September 10 was Grandparents Day—a holiday that should come more than once a year, I say, especially because of how phenomenal my kids’ grandparents are. Although Grandparents Day has passed, we continue to love reading these children’s books about grandparents—and I have a feeling your kids’ grandma and grandpa would love them, too!
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A special bond with grandparents
Have I mentioned lately the special relationship my kids share with their grandparents?
Nana, my mom, comes up from Eugene nearly every week to watch the girls while I work. They’re always busy with some creative project or outing, from painting the backs of cardboard boxes to send as postcards to writing love notes with chalk on the deck.
Grandpa Shempy, my dad, can occupy an entire afternoon by reading books to the girls or enacting mysteries while on a walk through the neighborhood.
Grandma Gregory, Eric’s mom, sees the world with the wonder and observation of a naturalist. She teaches her grandkids to spot the teeny-tiny miracles of nature and get hands-on with the outdoors.
Grandpa Gregory, Eric’s dad, acts like a kid with my girls. Over Christmas break, for example, he hooted and hollered along with his granddaughters as they zoomed down snowy hills and over homemade jumps.
So yeah, they deserve all the love my kids and I can shower on them.
The 15 best books about grandparents
These are some of our favorite books about grandparents and the special relationship they share with their grandkids. These books are sweet and silly, tender and funny. Best, they’ll be enjoyed by kids and their grandparents! If you’re looking for gift ideas for grandparents, these children’s books would make a great present for that special Grandma or Grandpa in your kids’ life.
Llama, Llama, Gram and Grandpa, by Anna Dewdney. This book in Anna Dewdney’s beloved series describes when your favorite Little Llama visits his grandparents. Homesickness doesn’t stand a chance when faced with the fun and love of Grandma and Grandpa, though. The absolutely relatable experience of staying the night away from home, then discovering something new about your family, is related in the simple rhymes Dewdney is best known for (and that inspire Ludacris to freestyle rap—good luck getting that out of your head!).
15 Things Not to Do with Grandma, by Margaret McAllister. This silly list includes plenty of things grandkids should avoid—like putting spaghetti in her purse or challenging her to a skateboard race (’cause she just might win!). The biggest lesson for my littles: Don’t forget to share Grandma! (They can get a little greedy with their Nana and Grandma Gregory.) The last few pages, which include ideas of what you should do with a grandma, are super sweet.
The Hello, Goodbye Window, by Norton Juster. A grandparents’ house is a special place—not only because grandparents don’t have to follow Mom and Dad’s rules (hello, cookies for breakfast!) but because of the adoring people who live there. In this book about grandparents, the window that overlooks the walk leading up to the house that’s full of mischief, fun and lots of love. The vibrant illustrations and hilarious antics of the quirky characters will have you reaching for this children’s book again and again.
Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith. Ok guys, this one gets me in the feels, especially because it reminds me of my own grandmother—the girls’ great-grandma. This book uses simple text and illustrations of an elaborate topiary garden to tell the history of Grandpa Green, all from a child’s perspective. The story starts at the beginning of Grandpa’s life, way before television and cell phones (if you can believe that!). What strikes me is the beautiful, childlike way the text glosses over huge events (like World War II) that is filled in by the illustrations (a topiary cannon shooting a cannonball). The tender ending points out that Grandpa doesn’t remember things very well anymore, but it’s clear that he still remembers the important things—like how much he loves his grandson.
I Love My Grandpa, by Lynn Johnston. The sweet-funny mix For Better or For Worse cartoonist Lynn Johnston is best known for shines in this pocket-sized book. The poem may get you all emotional, but the accompanying illustrations bring out the humor in every grandpa situation. I also appreciate the diversity Johnston draws in this book, showing the variety loving grandpas come in. This would be a great gift for grandpa—if you don’t believe me, the final page should persuade you: “My gramps believes in magic and dreams that can come true. He said, ‘I wished upon a star then I was blessed with you!'”
How to Babysit a Grandpa, and How to Babysit a Grandma, by Jean Reagan. Every kid whose grandparents sometimes babysit should read this pair of hilarious how-to books, which turn the tables on who is taking care of whom. Instructions on what to do with your elderly charge get really silly, really fast—for example, the section about taking your grandpa for a walk suggests avoiding stepping on cracks, looking for cool rocks and jumping in every puddle you see. The most important part of babysitting your grandpa or grandma: When it’s time for them to leave, you should ask, “When can I babysit you again?”
The Grandma Book, and The Grandpa Book, by Todd Parr. Author-illustrator Todd Parr loves to point out the joy in diversity, and these books are no different: They celebrate the different ways grandmas and grandpas are absolutely wonderful. My children giggle at the silly details (“Some grandpas put extra marshmallows in your hot chocolate,” “Some grandpas can wiggle their ears”) and point out which of their grandparents are like the ones in the books. Parr also highlights how all grandparents are the same: They love to hear from their grandkids, they like to make you laugh, and they’re all special.
What Grandmas Do Best/What Grandpas Do Best, by Laura Numeroff. You know Laura Numeroff from the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, and this two-in-one book lives up to the sweetness and silliness of the Mouse books. The words are actually the same in the grandpa and grandma sections, but the illustrations put a unique spin on each version. For example, the book says that grandmas and grandpas can make you a hat—but the grandma knits a woolen cap, and the grandpa folds a newspaper into a pirate hat. The ending is sweet enough to put a smile on any grandparent’s face: “But best of all, grandmas can give you lots and lots of love.”
Grandpas are for Finding Worms, and Grandmas are for Giving Tickles, by Harriet Ziefert. These lift the flap children’s books are perfect for little readers because of their simple sentences and interactive flaps. They celebrates all the wonderful things grandpas and grandmas can do, from building a bookshelf and singing old songs to, yes, digging for—and finding—wiggly worms. “A grandpa always makes you feel special,” the book says—and giving this children’s book to the grandparents in your life will be a treasured gift.
Our Granny, by Margaret Wild. I pretty much want to be friends with all the grannies in this book. And if I can’t, I want to grow up to be like them. They babysit, drive trucks, leave lipstick kisses on their grandkids’ cheeks, wear lots of jewelry, have interesting hair and march in demonstrations. Grannies can do all sorts of things—or not much at all—but they all have one thing in common: “Our granny has us, and we have her. We love our granny.”
I Already Know I Love You, by Billy Crystal. Actor Billy Crystal writes this beyond sweet book told from a grandfather’s perspective. Grandpa just can’t wait for his grandchild to be born and imagines all the things they’ll do together, from slurping messy spaghetti dinners to going to the movie theater, and looking at old family photos to singing the baby to sleep. The book beautifully expresses the sentiment grandparents will identify with: that they love their grandkids even before they’re born.
What do you love best about your own grandparents?