Gifts for Grandparents: Bond Over a Book with Your Grandchildren
The Children’s Book Review | December 14, 2015
There is nothing like a parent or grandparent being fully present for a child, to send them the message that they are loved. Reading books together is an incredibly easy and, not to mention, enjoyable way for me to be present and engaged with my own kids. It’s a way for me to put my love into action. What better gift for a grandparent than to provide an opportunity for them to bond with their grandchildren? Below, you will find ideas on how grandparents (or any caregiver) can connect with their grandchildren through reading books. You’ll also discover some great books starring grandparents and kids—these make wonderful gifts for grandparents.
How to Make Bonding over a Book with Your Grandchild Memorable and Special
Create a Reading Ritual
Every night, almost without fail, reading aloud is our bedtime ritual—it’s a guaranteed daily story time for all 3 kids. Each night after teeth are brushed and PJ’s are on, we head to the bookshelf to pick a book. My kids always get to pick the book, even if it’s the same book each naptime and evening for 2 weeks straight (because there are benefits to that, too)—having the power of choice can do beautiful things for a child’s self-esteem.
4 Ways to Spice up a Bedtime Reading Ritual
- We find interesting places to read. Like under the covers with a flashlight or build a fort filled with comfy pillows.
- We use different voices for each character and read with animation and excitement.
- We stock the shelves with funny books (E.g., Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss and Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash). Laughing together only heightens the pleasure of simply being together.
- We let the non-readers of the family tell the story just by looking at the pictures. How empowering!
Tips for Readers Who Want or Need To “Bond from Afar”
Like a lot of families these days, our kids’ grandparents live far away. Our kids have changed every time their grandparents visit, but the one thing that remains the same is the ritual of bedtime story time—it’s such an easy way for grandparents to participate in the daily routine and get some one-on-one bonding. And the best part is that the experience of reading together can continue via Skype or Facetime once the grandparents return home—this is perfect for an unfinished chapter book with the older kids.
More Helpful Ideas for Long Distance Grandparents
- Listen to audio books—prerecorded or made with grandpa’s voice—and use them in the car or during a quiet playtime.
- When possible, give the gift of books for birthdays or any other celebration that requires a present. The books can be a promise of bonding time for the next face-to-face or Facetime visit.
- After a family vacation, help your child to pick out a book about a shared memory that connects her with her grandma or grandpa. After a trip to Sanibel Island, FL, where my oldest daughter scoured the beach for seashells and splashed at the shore with her grandmother, we gave my mother-in-law the beautiful Wave by Suzy Lee.
- And when grandma or grandpa come to stay, the local story times at the library and/or bookstore make easy, free outings.
Even More Ways to Make Reading Time Special for Kids
- We make arts and crafts or cook something related to the story. Pinterest is loaded with kids’ book related activities.
- We dress up like the characters from our favorite books.
- Each summer we pick a topic to explore and learn about—we always begin this learning adventure by reading books. A few summers ago we learned about volcanoes by reading books, visiting volcanoes in Oregon, making a paper mâché volcano and baking gooey chocolate lava cakes.
Grandparent-Friendly Book Recommendations
Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr (Ages 2-6)
Because really we should all have every single Todd Parr book in our personal libraries.
Publisher’s synopsis: Featuring Todd Parr’s signature colorful and kid-friendly illustrations, The Grandma Book portrays the different ways grandmothers show their grandchildren love, from offering advice and babysitting to making things and giving lots of kisses.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 2011 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0316070416
Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr
Publisher’s synopsis: Presents the different ways grandfathers show their grandchildren love, from putting extra marshmallows in hot chocolate to sending cards and telling stories.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 2011 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0316070430
Written and Illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
A wonderfully simple picture book that shows how easy it is to connect with long distance grandparents.
Publisher’s synopsis: Spending time with Grandpa is always fun.
Singing, laughing, eating, and playing.
And when it’s time to say goodbye,
It won’t be for long because
He’s never too far away to have tea.
In this sweetly simple, rhyming picture book by acclaimed author/artist Barney Saltzberg, a little girl tells us about her daily tea ritual with her grandfather where they sing and laugh and clink their teacups with the help of their computers and a video chat.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1596438941
Written by Todd Tarpley
Illustrated by Danny Chatzikonstantinou
This is a picture book for all the kids with more eccentric grandparents. Todd Tarpley is a black belt picture book writer. My Grandma’s a Ninja packs a funny punch for the mind, body and spirit.
Publisher’s synopsis: When Ethan’s grandma suggests they take a zip line to school, Ethan realizes that his grandma is a little different. In fact, she’s a ninja! Ethan is soon the hit of the school when his grandma drops from the ceiling at show-and-tell, and teaches the kid’s karate moves and how to do backflips in slow motion. But when his grandma deflates his team’s soccer ball, everyone is upset—including Ethan. Why can’t he just have a regular grandma? But when Ethan tries out his new karate moves during the championship game . . . he’s happy that his grandma isn’t ordinary.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: NorthSouth | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0735841994
Written by Jean Reagan
Illustrated by Lee Wildish
A great way to spice up a sleepover at grandmas with plenty of humor.
Publisher’s synopsis: When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky . . . it’s a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time. (Be sure to check out the sections on: How to keep a grandma busy; Things to do at the park; Possible places to sleep, and what to do once you’re both snugly tucked in for the night.)
From the author-illustrator team behind the New York Times bestselling HOW TO… series comes a funny and heartwarming celebration of grandmas and grandchildren.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0385753845
Written and Illustrated by Lane Smith
This book showcases the depth of a grandparent (family history and aging) by going down memory lane in a gorgeously illustrated and artistic way.
Publisher’s synopsis: Grandpa Green wasn’t always a gardener. He was a farm boy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green’s great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.
In his most enigmatic and beautiful work to date, Lane Smith explores aging, memory, and the bonds of family history and love; by turns touching and whimsical, it’s a stunning picture book that parents and grandparents will be sharing with children for years to come.
Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | 2011 | ISBN-13: 978-1596436077
Written by Holly Schindler (Ages 8-12)
A heartwarming tale of a child living with her grandfather. Together they define beauty through recycled art.
Publisher’s synopsis: August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Dial Books | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0803737259
This article and list of book for grandparents “Gifts for Grandparents: Bond Over a Book with Your Grandchildren” was curated and written by Bianca Schulze—an abbreviated version of this book list first appeared in Woman’s World Magazine in June 2015. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Grandparents, Reading Tips, Family Books, Gift Books, and Holiday Gift Guide Kids Books.