Summer Reading with Young Children
Summer is the time when many children spend time with their grandparents. It is a time when, if a grandparent has Alzheimer’s, children will become aware of cognitive changes and have many questions. One way to help children understand the changes they see is through children’s books.
There are no shortages of titles these days for children. The most engaging tell stories that children can relate to, while also explaining what happens when someone has Alzheimer’s. For young children, the best explain changes in a straight-forward way and reassure children that they cannot get this disease. For all age levels, the top books give examples of how a child can continue to enjoy the company of and help the grandparent. Here are my picks, in no particular order, for young children:
Striped Shirts and Flowered Pants
By Barbara Schnurbush
This is a story about Libby and her grandmother who exhibits forgetfulness, difficulty finding words, a mood swings. It gives examples of how Libby continues to connect with her, and its overall message is that her grandmother’s love does not end. There is an excellent guide for parents at the end.
Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator?
By Max Wallack and Carolyn Given
This book was written by a junior at Boston University who helped care for his grandmother and now works in a research lab. It shares the experiences of a young girl from the time she was 4 through the age of 7. Her grandmother, who lives with her, changes from an independent woman to one who experiences forgetfulness, wandering, and visual distortions. The book contains many examples of ways to interact positively, including dealing with repetitive questions and sudden mood changes, and gives an understandable explanation of how the disease prevents her grandmother’s brain from processing information.
Still My Grandma
By Veronique Den Abeele
Camille loves being with her grandmother, spending the nights at her house and having special times together. But Camille notices that she is changing and becoming very confused. During the course of the story, her grandmother moves to a nursing home. The story reassures the reader that special times can continue even after such a move and is written in a very appealing voice for young children.
My Little Grandmother Often Forgets
By Reeve Lindbergh
This is a beautifully illustrated rhyming poem about Tom and his grandmother who comes to live with him. It is gentle, almost light-hearted introduction to the disease. Young children will also enjoy finding the different objects that the grandmother cannot find, which appear in each illustration.