These three stunning picture books aimed at young readers provide ample opportunity to begin conversations with small children about how what it’s like to watch someone they love grow older. All three explore various forms of ageing, including forgetfulness and the loss of memory. Whilst they don’t explicitly mention Dementia, the implication is there, and the topic is covered in a range of really sensitive age-appropriate ways. The beautiful illustrations enhance the impact of these books and also offer different opportunities to ask questions and begin discussions with young readers, exploring their own experiences of ageing in a safe and enjoyable way.
Grandpa Green – Lane Smith
Grandpa Green is an amazing gardener. In this beautifully illustrated book, his great-grandson leads us around his garden which is populated by all sorts of amazing topiary sculptures: animals, people and even an enormous wedding cake. Grandpa Green is getting old and he sometimes struggles to remember all the amazing things that have happened to him. But it’s ok, because “the gardens remembers for him” and he has a fantastic great-grandson who likes nothing more than to tell Grandpa’s story using all his imaginatively-shaped plants.
Grandpa Green was published by Two Hoots in 2017
My Great Grandpa – Martin Waddell
With illustrations by Dom Mansell
Gran might say “it’s sad to be like Great Grandpa is now!” but his little great granddaughter knows it’s not. She takes her Great Grandpa out on a wonderful adventure around the village he lives in. Great Grandpa tells her all the history he can remember and when his memory runs out, she fills in the rest of the details. Together they make a fantastic team. She doesn’t feel at all sorry for her Great Grandpa though she can see he doesn’t have as much energy as he used to have and sometimes he seems a bit muddled. She’s sure, “Great Grandpa knows things that no one else knows. In his mind he goes places that no one else goes.”
My Great Grandpa was published by Walker Books in 1990
Granpa – John Burningham
A little girl and her grandfather share a very special relationship. Though Granpa’s not as strong as he used to be and sometimes he can’t go out to play, through gorgeous leading questions and beautifully illustrated pictures of the fantastical worlds he conjures up we can see his imagination’s still working well. Granpa might be exhibiting the signs of early Dementia or he might just be playing make believe with his little granddaughter. Burningham doesn’t feel the need to make this explicit and this decision serves the story well. Granpa is a subtle and very clever book which illustrates the way a child’s ability to enter into her grandfather’s confusion about reality could actually help her cope with his Dementia in a loving and imaginative way.
Granpa was published by Puffin Books in 1984