10 Picture Books That Celebrate Grandparents
The Children’s Book Review | September 6, 2019
This book list just may be one of our favorites! Who knew there were so many amazing kids books about grandparents? Not only are some of these intergenerational stories so moving that tears found their way into our eyes—we’re not crying … you are—but they also manage to celebrate so many rich and varied cultures, heritage, and relationships.
How do you spend your favorite day of the week? With Grandpa, of course! But what if Grandpa is grouchy? Don’t worry … he’ll soon remember that a day out with his grandson is so much fun. What do you do when your grandma gives you the unusual gift of a lemon tree? The obvious answer is make lemonade, but grandkids are even more creative than that. The last two books in this list address loss and grief both beautifully and poignantly. Without further ado, here are 10 glorious books that celebrate grandparents and their grandkids, too!
Written by Jamie L.B. Deenihan
Illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Grandma gives you a lemon tree, definitely don’t make a face! Care for the tree, and you might be surprised at how new things, and new ideas, bloom.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised (and disappointed) to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all. This clever story, complete with a recipe for lemonade, celebrates the pleasures of patience, hard work, nature, community . . . and putting down the electronic devices just for a while.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books | March 5, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1454923817
Written and Illustrated by Joowon Oh
Publisher’s Synopsis: Charmingly detailed illustrations help tell a touching tale of the bond between grandparent and grandchild in a quiet yet powerful debut.
“Thursdays are my favorite days.”
Every morning Papa follows his normal routine. He drinks his tea, waters his plants, tidies up, and takes the bus into town. Papa enjoys his daily tasks, but there’s one day each week that is extra special. That’s the day he might visit the craft store, get two orders of dumplings to go, and possibly pick some flowers he sees along the path. With its spare text and wonderfully warm watercolor and cut-paper illustrations just begging to be pored over, Joowon Oh’s tale of the singular love between a grandfather and granddaughter will nestle within the heart of every reader.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Candlewick | August 16, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1536203578
Written by Mina Javaherbin
Illustrated by Lindsey Yankey
Publisher’s Synopsis: In a true tale of a young girl in Iran and her grandmother, this beautiful ode to family celebrates small moments of love that become lifelong memories.
In this big universe full of many moons, I have traveled and seen many wonders, but I have never loved anything or anyone the way I love my grandma.
While Mina is growing up in Iran, the center of her world is her grandmother. Whether visiting friends next door, going to the mosque for midnight prayers during Ramadan, or taking an imaginary trip around the planets, Mina and her grandma are never far apart. At once deeply personal and utterly universal, Mina Javaherbin’s words make up a love letter of the rarest sort: the kind that shares a bit of its warmth with every reader. Soft, colorful, and full of intricate patterns, Lindsey Yankey’s illustrations feel like a personal invitation into the coziest home, and the adoration between Mina and her grandma is evident on every page.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Candlewick | August 13, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0763694944
Written by Wendy Meddour
Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
Publisher’s Synopsis: A young boy’s original game coaxes a grieving grandpa to reconnect with the world in a touching intergenerational story of love and resilience.
Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas.
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Candlewick | September 3, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1536211252
Written by Yamile Saied Méndez
Illustrated by Jaime Kim
Publisher’s Synopsis: This resonant picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer. A great conversation starter in the home or classroom—a book to share, in the spirit of I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo.
When a girl is asked where she’s from—where she’s really from—none of her answers seems to be the right one.
Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn’t give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one.
Where am I from?
You’re from hurricanes and dark storms, and a tiny singing frog that calls the island people home when the sun goes to sleep….
With themes of self-acceptance, identity, and home, this powerful, lyrical picture book will resonate with readers young and old, from all backgrounds and of all colors—especially anyone who ever felt that they don’t belong.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | June 4, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0062839930
Written and Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher’s Synopsis: This beautifully illustrated story connects past and present as a girl bakes a chocolate cake with her father and learns about her grandfather harvesting cacao beans in West Africa.
Chocolate is the perfect treat, everywhere!
As a little girl and her father bake her birthday cake together, Daddy tells the story of her Grandpa Cacao, a farmer from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. In a land where elephants roam and the air is hot and damp, Grandpa Cacao worked in his village to harvest cacao, the most important ingredient in chocolate. “Chocolate is a gift to you from Grandpa Cacao,” Daddy says. “We can only enjoy chocolate treats thanks to farmers like him.” Once the cake is baked, it’s ready to eat, but this isn’t her only birthday present. There’s a special surprise waiting at the front door . . .
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books | May 21, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1681196404
Written by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by Allison Colpoys
Publisher’s Synopsis: One young girl reflects on a year with her beloved grandpa. She remembers the fields and parks they explored in the springtime and the old toys they fixed up in the summer. She remembers the handmade gifts they exchanged in the fall and the stories Grandpa told by the fi re each winter. But this year, the girl must say good-bye to Grandpa. In the face of her grief, she is determined to find a way to honor him. She decides to record her Grandpa stories in the notebook he made for her and carry Grandpa with her as she grows. An honest and relatable depiction of loss, Grandpa’s Stories celebrates life and the ways in which love lives on.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Harry N. Abrams | April 2, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1419734984
Written by Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrated by Daniel Minter
Publisher’s Synopsis: “On reunion morning, we rise before the sun. Daddy hums as he packs our car with suitcases and a cooler full of snacks. He says there’s nothing like going down home.”
Down home is Granny’s house. Down home is where Lil’ Alan and his parents and sister will join great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Down home is where Lil’ Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to family history. All the kids have to decide on what tribute to share, but what will Lil’ Alan do?
In this rich and moving celebration of history, culture, and ritual, Kelly Starling Lyons’ eloquent text explores the power of family traditions. Stunning illustrations by Coretta Scott King Honor-winner Daniel Minter reveal the motion and connections in a large, multigenerational family.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company | April 1, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1561459384
Written and Illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Publisher’s Synopsis: Miss Eula is back! In this heartwarming companion to Chicken Sunday, young Trisha is devastated when her grandmother passes away, but finds joy in bonds with a new friend, her new California neighborhood—and the invincible Miss Eula.
There will never be anyone like her grandmother, Patricia Polacco thinks, when her grandmother passes away. But when she and her family move to California—in the middle of a drought—she meets a new friend, the irrepressible Stewart, and his amazing grandmother, Miss Eula, who not only takes Trisha under her wing, but, with Trisha and Stewart, steps up to lead their entire extraordinarily diverse neighborhood to help a hurting neighbor—and her once lush garden—survive the drought.
Trisha’s grandmother’s old saying about the stars being Holes in the Sky turns out to be Miss Eula’s, too, convincing Trisha that she has miraculously discovered another unforgettable grandmother.
Ages 6-9 | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | September 11, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524739485
Written by Pimm van Hest
Illustrated by Lisa Brandenburg
Publisher’s Synopsis: “Are you going to die, Grandpa?”
“Someday, sweetheart. But I hope not too soon.”
An important picture book that gives children free rein to express their questions, fears, thoughts, and ideas about death. For children ages 5 and up. Including an epilogue by the grief therapist Rebecca Dabekaussen, with tips on how to discuss this difficult but inevitable subject with children.
Ages 5+ | Publisher: Clavis | September 1, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1605374949
*The header image is an illustration from Grandpa’s Stories (Harry N. Abrams, 2019), written by Joseph Coelho and llustrated by Allison Colpoys.
The article 10 Picture Books That Celebrate Grandparents was curated by Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Family Relationships, Grandparents,Intergenerational Stories, Loss Of A Grandparent, and Picture Books.