As grandparents grow older, we must often help our children understand about aging, memory loss, and even, Alzheimer’s. These picture books and chapter books tell stories that will help you learn more about and discuss old age and the changes that may go with it.
It can be a confusing time for children. (And us!) I hope these books help.
Children’s Picture Books About Aging, Memory Loss, & Alzheimer’s
A Doll For Grandma: A Story About Alzheimer’s Disease by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey, illustrated by Samantha Woo
The little girl has a special relationship with her grandmother. When her grandma’s memory changes, one day her grandma calls her granddaughter the name of a childhood friend. That’s when the little girl gets the idea to buy her grandmother a doll. As they play with their dolls together, they continue their special relationship in a different way. It’s such a sweet story that shows a way to love the adults in our lives with memory issues.
The Forgettery by Rachel Ip, illustrated by Laura Hughes
This beautiful, well-crafted story sensitively addresses memory loss with lovely writing and shows Amelia and her granny finding a special place with all their forgotten memories. Granny’s room is large and filled with the things she forgot like the sound of autumn leaves and her favorite blue dress. Amelia’s room is small and cozy and filled with shoes and socks and couches and bumps. Then, they get directions on how to get home, and Amelia starts a book to help Granny remember her favorite memories. But the one thing she’ll never forget is her love for Amelia.
The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
This beautiful story uses balloons as a metaphor for memories. James loves Grandpa’s balloons most of all because Grandpa has lived a long time and has the best stories; stories about James’s dad or a fishing trip he and James took together. But one by one, Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away and Grandpa doesn’t even notice. It makes James feel very sad. James’s parents help him understand that sometimes grown-ups lose their memories when they get older. Now James will do his best to share his own balloons with Grandpa.
Never Forget Eleanor by Jason June, illustrated by Loren Long
Grandma Eleanor has a great memory for words, stories, and people. But one day, she starts forgetting what she used to remember. Elijah is worried when he can’t find her one day — so he draws and writes their favorite story to direct her back home. Then, Grandma’s story comes to an end and Elijah takes down the signs and he tells stories like his grandma.
Newspaper Hats by Phil Cummings, illustrated by Owen Swan
This is a sweet story about the forgetfulness that comes with aging. Georgie’s grandpa doesn’t always remember her but he does remember how to make newspaper hats. It’s age-appropriate and perfect for introducing the memory loss concept to children.
Grandma and Me by Beatrice Tauber Prior PsyD and Mary Ann Drummond RN, illustrated by Julia Walther
The boy’s grandma loves her grandson and the plants in her yard; she’s the best Grandma ever. Then something changes and it’s upsetting. The authors skillfully address what to expect when a loved one gets Alzheimer’s and the emotions that might accompany these changes.
Really and Truly by Emilie Rivard, illustrated by Anne-Claire Delisle
Charlie’s grandpa told him the BEST imaginative stories that he’d always end with “really and truly, Charlie.” But now, grandpa doesn’t remember. He sits and stares out the window without expression. Suddenly, Charlie knows he can be the storyteller now — and maybe make grandpa smile. I really like the approach this book takes on the reality of aging with a positive view. Recommended for children whose grandparents are losing memories.
My New Granny by Elisabeth Steinkellner, illustrated by Michael Roher
Illustrated in warm brown tones, we feel melancholy when Fini’s granny returns from a hospital stay but as a “new granny” — one that doesn’t do the same things or tell the same stories. Then, Fini’s granny moves in with Fini’s family. They must help granny much more now – brush her hair, eat, get dressed. Fini decides she loves her new granny as much as the old one.
Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas
I love this story so much — and used it frequently in the classroom. This little boy exemplifies kindness! He learns his friend, “Miss Nancy,” is losing her memory so he tries to figure out what a memory is and how he can help her remember.
Holding On by Sophia N. Lee, illustrated by Isabel Roxas
A little girl loves that her Lola cherishes memories and music. And Lola loves music –fills her days and nights. So when Lola sometime forgets things, the little girl plays Lola’s favorite music and remembers for her. They dance and sing. I love the exuberant collage illustrations and beautiful message of family and compassion.
The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
This old woman has outlived her friends. So she names things so she can call them by names as if they were her friends — her car is Betsy, her house is Roxanne, her favorite chair is Fred. But, she only names things she will outlive. Until she meets a puppy. It’s a risk but she eventually realizes that naming and adopting the puppy is worth it.
Lovely Old Lion by Julia Jarman, illustrated by Susan Varley
Lenny adores his grandpa, King Lion. Except King Lion is forgetting things and it’s confusing to Lenny. Lenny’s marble collection helps remind King Lion of some memories but ultimately, Lenny learns that sometimes brains don’t work the same (because of dementia) when a lion gets older.
Children’s Chapter Books About Aging, Memory Loss, & Alzheimer’s
Sticky Notes by Diane Touchell (ages 9 – 12)
I felt sad throughout this entire story, mostly because a good friend of ours has experienced a disease called frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), often misdiagnosed as early onset. 10-year-old Foster sees his dad’s personality disappear little by little throughout this story. As this happens, his mom becomes more and more stressed out. An aunt arrives to help which makes things both more stressful and better. It’s all is very hard. Because there isn’t a cure; there isn’t any recovery from this. There is only acceptance of the new situation.
The Space Between Lost and Found by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (ages 9 – 12)
What other books would you add to this list?