Combat stereotypes and celebrate intergenerational friendships with these great stories.
Our society is remarkably biased against aging. Nowhere is this more clear than older elementary and young adult literature. Research reveals that when aging characters aren't entirely absent, they are presented as infirm, ineffective, and disregarded.
The books below offer wonderful exceptions to this challenge.
Talk about the issue.
Does it seem important to visit older people? Why?
What do you think you can learn from having friends of many different ages?
How would you feel if you couldn’t walk fast or couldn’t get around to visit your friends?
Sometimes seniors, whether they are living in institutions or independently, get lonely. Have you ever felt lonely? What helped you feel better?
Do you have any older friends or family members you'd like to share kindness with? Consider making a card or baking a treat to share and going for a visit.
The Gus & Grandpa Series by Claudia Mills
The youngest independent readers (ages 6-9) may enjoy this entire series about a young boy, his grandfather, and the tender way the support each other through the silly foibles of everyday life.
Kids and Grandparents: An Activity Book by Ann Love and Jane Drake
Some of these activities are for children and elderly people who share the same family, but most can be modified. The activities include food, memories, crafts and games.
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork
Linnea and her elderly neighbor, Mr. Bloom, visit Paris and Monet’s garden in Giverny. A delightful story of the relationship of a child and her older friend.
The Remembering Box by Eth Clifford
Join Joshua and Grandma to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath each weekend. The familiar rhythm of their weekly traditions always ends Joshua choosing an item from what his Grandma calls the "remembering box" and listening to the story it prompts Grandma to tell. The close and loving relationship Joshua and Grandma share is as wonderful as her stories.
The War with Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith
Ten-year-old Peter's account of this war, a series of epic and outrageous battles with Grandpa for disputed territory, is both hilarious and prejudice-busting. Grandpa doesn't sit idly by. He doesn't get angry. He gets creative.
A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, both by Richard Peck
A Long Way from Chicago and its sequel, A Year Down Yonder tell the story of Joey and Mary Alice and the adventures they have with their Grandmother Dowdel.
Homecoming and Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
This deeply touching classic follows four siblings who journey to their great-aunt's house after their mother abandoned them in a parking lot. As their tale continues in the sequel, Dicey's Song, the children's aunt becomes a source of wisdom, stability, and some conflict for teen-aged Dicey.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca "Sal" Tree Hiddle's wonderfully eccentric grandparents join her on a road trip to find her missing mother. As they travel, two stories unfold, a hilarious tale Sal tells her grandparents, and the bittersweet story Sal herself is living.
The 79 Squares by Malcolm J. Bosse
What can a troubled teen learned by examining a one-foot square of garden? Older readers (13 and up) will be captivated by this unlikely friendship between a 14-year-old delinquent and an ex-con out on parole at the end of his life.
Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian
The story of the friendship between Willie, a young victim of child abuse, and Mr. Tom, an elderly man who takes him in when Willie must evacuate to the English countryside during World War II.
Grand Mothers: Poems, Reminiscences, and Short Stories About the Keepers of Our Traditions by Nikki Giovanni
This lovely collection offers an inspiring and varied vision of wise older women. And don't let the title fool you, there are a fair number of unique Grand Fathers in these tales also.
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Want to take the lessons further on this important subject?
Order the DGT™ Kindness Curriculum which uses stories and discussions to empower kids to help!
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