Introduction

Teacher Guide

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Reading List

Resources

Case Study

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About the Author


Picture books are a time tested method of helping young children understand complex concepts such as aging. Intergenerational books teach children to value the contributions of the elderly and understand that growing old is an important part of the life cycle. The following list represents a small selection of children's books that depict aging as a natural and life long process, and are some of this author's personal favorites.

Visit the Resources section of this guide for links to additional collections of children's literature related to intergenerational studies.

Can You Do This, Old Badger?

Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
ISBN: 0152016546
Publisher: Harcourt
Pub. Date: February 2000
Edition Desc: 1 ED
Age Range: 3 to 7

"There are lots of things Little Badger can do that Old Badger can't manage to do very well anymore. But Old Badger can still show Little Badger a few tricks to teach him how to become a badger extraordinaire—like how to catch fish, where to find worms, and how to get to the honey before the bees get to you. Old badgers are supposed to teach little badgers, he says. It's all part of the plan—and so is nap time!" (From the Publisher)
Verdi

Written by Jannel Cannon
ISBN: 0152010289
Publisher: Harcourt
Pub. Date: April 1996
Age Range: 5 to 8

"A python baby leaves his mother and enters the tropical world. 'Grow up big and green,' she calls after him, but Verdi much prefers his snazzy yellow skin with stripes, finding the big green snakes boring and sedentary. He determines to keep both his yellow skin and his adventurous, fast-moving lifestyle, and he goes zinging about the rain forest until eventually—'Whippety, whappity, fwip, fwap, WHAM!' During his recovery, Verdi grows to appreciate slowing down enough to notice things, but when a couple of cheeky, young yellow snakes come along, he proves that he can still have fun. "
(Booklist)
Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs

Written by Tomie de Paola
ISBN: 0399231080
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group, The
Pub. Date: December 1997
Age Range: 4 to 8

"As a young boy, Tomie loved to visit his grandmother and great-grandmother. They lived in the same house and he called them Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs. During his Sunday visits with his great-grandmother, he would eat mint candy and listen to her stories about the "Little People." When she napped so did he, and to him she was a beautiful and wonderful woman. Then she died, but for Tomie, she would always live in his memories. The same was true of his grandmother who died many years later when Tomie was grown up. It is a heartwarming but sad story about love among the generations and facing the reality that death is part of the cycle of life. It is a gentle approach that can help children and encourage them upon the loss of a relative to hold and cherish those memories of wonderful times together."
(Children's Literature)
Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge

Written by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Julie Vivas
ISBN: 091629126X
Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Pub. Date: April 1991
Edition Desc: American Edition
Age Range: 5 to 8

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge is a small boy who lives next to a home for old people, all of whom are his friends. His favorite is Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, because she has four names too. Wilfred is worried when he hears his parents mention that Miss Nancy has lost her memory. He asks the old people what a memory is, and all of their answers inspire him to fill a basket with objects. When this small boy presents the basket to Miss Nancy, each object sparks a special memory from her childhood.

When I Am Old with You

ISBN: 0531070352
Publisher: Orchard Books
Pub. Date: February 1993
Age Range: 5 to 8

"The bond between grandparent and grandchild transcends time, and sometimes transcends an adult's sense of logic, reaching a deeper level of truth. In this story, a small child imagines a future when he will be old with his Grandaddy and will sit beside him in a rocking chair and talk about everything. They will go fishing, drink cool water from a jug, and play cards ``till the lightning bugs shine in the trees.'' The poignant reality that time will never allow these two to coexist at the same age is softened by the fact that they do not have to be the same age in order to share happy times. What the boy dreams of doing with his Grandaddy someday are the same things that they are doing now."
(From The School Library Journal)
The Grannyman

Written by Judith Byron Schachner
ISBN: 0525461221
Publisher: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: September 1999
Age Range: 5 to 8

"Blind, deaf, and extremely arthritic, Simon, an elderly Siamese cat, is ready to call it quits after a long and happy life of furniture scratching, plant pruning, and mouse catching. Despite his family's deep love (they even submitted to "stinky old cat breath" in their faces when Simon chose to share their beds), his independent spirit becomes depressed as he needs more and more help in his daily life. Suspecting his decision to give up on life, his family plops a new kitten on his chest, and Simon puts his own worries on the back burner. Rejuvenated, he shows the kitten the facts of life at the milk saucer and the litter box. As his nurturing skills emerge, his loving family nicknames him "the Grannyman." Schachner's warm, emotional text is echoed in her softly colored illustrations, clearly depicting the contrast between joyous young Simon (seen in flashbacks) and his diminished elderly self."
(From Library Journal)

Sunshine Home

Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Diane deGroat
ISBN: 0395633095
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Pub. Date: March 1994
Age Range: 5 to 8

"A rare and perceptive book on an increasingly important topic. Nursing homes are a troubling necessity in our busy world, and Bunting tells of one family's transition with dignity, honesty, sensitivity, and just enough humor to make it bearable. Timmy is seven when his grandmother injures herself in a fall and needs full-time nursing care. On his first visit to Sunshine Home, he is afraid that Gram won't be the same and is overwhelmed by the smells and sights of the place. Mom and Gram are both outwardly ``cheery and chipper,'' but their voices don't ring true. When the family leaves Sunshine Home, Mom begins to cry. Timmy runs back to give Gram his forgotten school picture—she too is in tears. The boy realizes it would be better for all of them to reveal their real feelings and brings his parents back for some honest sharing. "
(From School Library Journal)

I Remember, Cried Grandma Pinky

Written by Jan Wahl
Illustrated by Arden Johnson
ISBN: 0816734577
Publisher: Troll Communications L.L.C.
Pub. Date: September 1995
Age Range: 5 to 8

"A tender tale that many children will relate to and enjoy. Nutmeg's grandmother is getting old and forgets a lot, but she remembers a great deal, too.The elderly bear has no trouble making an apple pie from memory, but she forgets to take it out of the oven. It is the stories of her youth—sleigh rides, snowstorms, and dances of long ago—that she recalls best, and these are the ones that Nutmeg loves to hear. Wahl's writing is crisp and clear. His short, smooth sentences with simple vocabulary make the narrative easy to read. Johnson's cozy, appealing illustrations cover three quarters of each double-page spread with soft and cuddly bears that will beckon young smiles. While there are many other intergenerational tales available, this one, because of its gentle telling, is worthy of consideration."
(From School Library Journal)

The Stranger in the Mirror

Written by Allen Say
ISBN: 0395615909
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Pub. Date: September 1995
Age Range: 5 to 8

"In this book, which, aside from a brief introduction written on an adult level, consists entirely of watercolor illustrations, of a young boy underging a startling transformation. Suddenly, he is turned into an old man. His progress through the day, the reaction of his family, doctors, and friends, and his own handling of the situation are the subject of the "story." Ultimately, he realizes that however he may look and however people may react to him, what matters is what's inside. The illustrations are beautiful and the people portrayed lively and from an Asian heritage. This book is probably most appropriate for children in conjunction with parents or teachers, since it may be confusing or slightly frightening, especially for young children who are still learning about how their bodies may or may not change."
(From Childrens Literature)

Mrs. Katz and Tush

Written by Patricia Polacco
ISBN: 0440409365
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: February 1994
Age Range: 4 to 8

Larnel, a young boy, befriends an older widow named Mrs. Katz. Recognizing her loneliness, he brings her a kitten, the tailless runt of the litter, for company. She names it Tush, and a friendship begins. From frequent visits, Larnel discovers common themes of suffering and triumph between his African American heritage and her Polish-Jewish experience.