Witnessing the decline of a grandparent or elderly relative with dementia can be a confusing and confronting time for young children.
In response, a growing number of children’s authors and illustrators, often inspired by personal experience, are turning to the subject in their books for young readers.
To mark World Dementia Awareness Month in September, a group of Australian children’s authors are collaborating to showcase their stories and raise awareness of dementia and its impact on families.
Children’s literature can be a valuable starting point to discuss ageing and the transition to care.
All five books explore intergenerational relationships and offer practical strategies for connecting with ageing grandparents even in difficult and changing circumstances.
Lucas & Jack by Ellie Royce and Andrew McLean. Published by Working Title Press.
Lucas & Jack is a great book for introducing young children to the idea that old people can be fun and that deep down we have more in common than we think. More importantly Lucas & Jack encourages children to ask questions, be curious, imaginative and empathetic. Shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year 2015.
Celia and Nonna by Victoria Lane and Kayleen West. Published by Ford Street.
Celia and Nonna is a significant and heart-warming picture book about the special bond between children and grandparents – and what happens when life changes. In this story, young Celia finds a delightful and positive way to navigate this confusing time.
Harry Helps Grandpa Remember by Karen Tyrrell and Aaron Pocock. Published by Digital Future Press.
Harry and Grandpa love playing hide-and-seek together. Over time Grandpa becomes grumpy and forgetful, refusing to play games with Harry anymore. On Grandparent’s Day, Grandpa becomes confused and lost. He couldn’t even remember Harry’s name. Then Harry discovers clever ways to boost Grandpa’s memory. Endearingly told and full of hope, compassion and humour, the book provides a gentle introduction for children to the realities of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Winner of RADF grant through Arts Queensland.
When I see Grandma by Debra Tidball and Leigh Hedstrom. Published by Wombat Books.
A young girl and her toddler brother visit their sleeping grandmother in an aged care home and help ‘brighten her dreams’ and the lives of the resident community. The book celebrates the joy of intergenerational connection and the valuable ways children can engage in the care of their grandparents. Winner of the children’s book section of CALEB award 2014, and shortlisted for Speech Pathology Book of the Year 2014. All author royalties donated to the Hazel Hawke Dementia Research and Care fund.
Do you remember? by Kelly O’Gara and Anna McNeil. Published by Wombat Books.
A beautiful exploration between a child and their ageing grandparent presented with outstanding illustrations by newcomer illustrator, Kelly O’Gara. Children will relate to the mice as they read the story and understand their grandparent’s condition. The book can cater for multiple ageing conditions but specifically is focussed on explaining dementia to children.