It’s wonderful when grandparents spend loving, quality time with their grandchildren. Such is the case in these picture books… children spending time with a grandparent, often it’s just time together but sometimes it’s sharing memories, adventures, or wisdom.
For Grandparents Day or any day, a free and easy gift idea is to give one of these books to a beloved nana, papa, or abuelo and read the book together with the grandchild.
These books representing many cultures celebrate and honor the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild.
If you’re separated by distance, ask a grandparent to read aloud one of these picture books on video so you’ll always be able to watch and rewatch their face and hear their voice.
Books with Stories of Loving Grandparents
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
The boy doesn’t like the city where Nana lives, it’s loud and scary. Nana gives him a fancy red cape that makes him feel very brave. And he and Nana walk through the city, discovering all that is wonderful about it. I loved how the cape helped the boy be brave. Wonderful!
Storm by Sam Usher
Tiny, Perfect Things by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
Celebrate the wonder of ordinary, small things as a girl and her grandfather take a walk to notice all the tiny, perfect things; things like a yellow leaf, a snail, a red bottle cap, a flower growing through a sidewalk crack… When they arrive home, the little girl excitedly shares about the wonders she saw. Warm, earthy illustrations throughout.
Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
Stunning artwork and narration show how art can bring together generations separated by language and age. When a boy arrives at his grandfather’s house, he’s frustrated because his grandfather doesn’t speak English. Then the boy begins drawing himself as a caped superhero. Excited, his grandfather contributes, drawing himself as a superhero — only one garbed in what may be a traditional Thai ceremonial dress. It’s beautiful on so many levels, metaphorically and literally.
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker, illustrated by April Harrison
Zura feels nervous about Nana Akua visiting her school for Grandparents Day because Nana has permanent African tribal marks on her face. When the day arrives, Nana Akua explains that she is from Ghana and the marks were a gift from her parents and she feels proud to wear them. She shows the class a quilt filled with other symbols from Ghana and each child gets to pick a symbol to wear on their face with face paint. Zura’s classmates love it and so do the other grandparents. It’s a beautiful moment that transforms Zura’s worry into pride for her family’s heritage. Gorgeous folk-art, expressive illustrations add such beauty to this special story.
Kiyoshi’s Walk by Mark Karlins, illustrated by Nicole Wong
Walk with Kiyoshi and his poet grandfather Eto through the town as his grandfather shows Kiyoshi where poems come from…When Eto stops to write a poem, Kiyoshi realizes that poems come from what you see, what you hear, what you imagine, and what you feel. “They passed by an old house with a tall wall around it. / They peeked through a crack, but could see only a stuffed bear on the ground. // Eto took out his pen and wrote: / His boy moved away. / Lying by the empty house. / A lonely bear waits.” Kiyoshi writes a poem, too. Then they walk home, seeing that in everything there is a poem. I LOVE this book so much!
Song of Frutas by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Celebrate Cuban culture and a loving grandparent relationship in this lyrical story about a little girl’s visit with her fruit-selling Abuelo. When the little visits her Abuelo in Cuba, she loves helping him sell frutas, singing the names of each fruit as they walk with his cart. They fill baskets lowered down on ropes. Other vendors sing their own melodies and rhymes about tamales, yerbas, and dulces so Abuelo must sing even louder. As her trip wraps up on New Year’s Eve, the girl eats twelve grapes at midnight, making a wish for each month, especially wishing for more visits and open borders. When she returns home, she feels happy that she can send Abuelo letters “back and forth, verses on paper, all our hopeful poems flying like songbirds who glide and soar through wild sky, each syllable un abrazo, a hug made of words.”
Our Favorite Day by Joowon Oh
There’s a beauty in the predictability and minimal description of Papa’s daily routine. He gets up, drinks tea, waters the plants, and eventually goes into town. He gets his favorite lunch–dumplings. But on Thursday, it’s slightly different. In town, he buys craft supplies and gets two orders of dumplings to go. Then, he spends the afternoon with his granddaughter who is just as happy to see him as he is to see her. I love the joy in this relationship and the exquisite paper-cut illustrations.
When the Snow Falls by Linda Booth Sweeney, illustrated by Jana Christy
Playful poetic language invites readers into a wonderland of multigenerational, multicultural family time in the snow. “Woods hush. Fields glisten. Wren sings. We listen.” The children sled, make snow angels, watch the snowy roads, and return home to a cozy fire next to grandma and grandpa. “Cocoa warms. Mittens puddle. Day dawdles. We cuddle.” Ultimately, this winter book feels like a warm and cozy hug.
I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi
The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khoa Ld
Kalia’s Hmong family doesn’t have much money but they do have, her grandma helps her see, is beauty, heritage, and love.
A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu, illustrated by Christina Forshay
What strikes me immediately about this picture book is the warm-hearted, loving relationship between the grandpa and the granddaughter. Even when the granddaughter does things differently than her grandpa, he is very accepting of her silly ways. And vice-versa. In the end, they both learn from each other during their morning practices of Tai Chi and Yoga. Because in the end, it’s about being together, trying your best, and not being perfect.
Abuelo by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Raul Colon
A lyrical story of a boy’s memories of his abuelo. The boy’s abuelo teaches him that there are many ways to be strong, fuerte; that it’s good to laugh, es bueno reirse; and to look, mira, at the stars. Even when the boy moves to the big city, his abuelo is always with him in spirit.
Grandpa Across the Ocean by Hyewon Yum
A little boy initially only notices their differences when he visits his grandpa in Korea. He notices their different language and the different smells and foods. But when he makes a mistake, his grandpa kindly gives the boy a peach. That shifts the boy’s attention. Now the boy finds all the things that they have in common — laughter, singing, their appearance, chocolate. When it’s time to leave, the boy can’t wait to visit again.
A Gift From Abuela by Celia Ruiz
Nanna’s Button Tin by Dianne Wolfer, illustrated by Heather Potter
Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
This story captures a common story of feeling embarrassed about being different. When Vinson’s grandpa from China visits, Vinson is embarrassed. However, Vinson learns grandpa is a martial arts master and starts to see him as someone to be proud of. The elements of Chinese culture like tai chi and clothing give readers some important cultural insight.
French Toast by Kari-Lynn Winters Illustrated by Francois Thisdale
My Grandma and Me by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Lindsey Yankey
Mina writes a beautiful, atmospheric tribute to her grandma in this story of growing up in Iran buying bread, playing, and going to prayers but mostly spending loving time with her grandma. The illustrations with intricate patterns and muted colors set a warm, comforting tone.
Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak
Lina walks through the snow to her Grandma’s house. As she walks, she notices the sounds of snow. Her boots on the ground sound like “snyak, snyek, snyuk.” People sweeping snow off their cars make a “swish-wish, swish-wish.” She hears the snow with things like mittens, skis, snowballs, shovels, too. When she arrives at her Grandma’s they cook together, eat, and listen to the stillness of the snow. This story’s lovely illustrations combined with the sensory images in the text give readers an immersive experience of this snowy day.
The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow
Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo, a Korean treasure-hunting mermaid, like her Grandma but she’s scared. Her Grandma helps her practice diving and holding her breath in a tide pool then in the big ocean, tethered together. The perspective of the illustrations helps us feel like we’re under the water, too — and we feel breathless and wonder-filled at the beauty of the ocean.
We Became Jaguars by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Woodrow White
A very imaginative and unique grandma encourages her grandson to pretend that they are jaguars. They practice moving like jaguars then venture outside into the night and the woods where they prowl and hunt, jaguaring on. The boy worries he’s missing too much school so his jaguar grandma writes him a note– her pawprint, leaving readers to wonder if she’s really a jaguar and not just pretending.
I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne, illustrated by Julia Kuo
A little girl remembers times with her beloved Popo…visiting the park, celebrating New Year’s Day, and looking at the globe to see where they are in Taiwan and where the girl will be moving, San Diego. She moves to the U.S. and thinks of Popo during her days, talks to her on video calls, and returns for a short visit. Even when Popo is gone from this world, she visits the little girl in her dreams and their love endures.