Storytime with Jessica – Grandparents and Illness
Everyone gets sick, it’s one of those basic things that we cannot escape. We get colds and twist ankles, break bones and have headaches. Kids experience this from when they are very little from first sneezes through to the first sleepless night with a fever but there are bigger aspects of illness that are sometimes hard to explain. Anybody, no matter the age, can fall seriously ill but today I’m going to focus on grandparents. So many children have a deep and special relationship with their grandparent(s) and there are things that come with age that some children may experience through their grandparents.
Books provide two things in these situations: they are great places to start the conversation; they help explain the situation and they provide us with proof that we are not alone.
A Plan for Pops by Heather Smith and Brooke Kerrigan
Lou visits his two grandfathers — Grandad, who is interested in technology, and Pops, who loves rock and roll — every Saturday, but things change when Pops falls and will have to use a wheelchair, so Lou comes up with an idea to help Pops adjust.
Pops in this book has a fall and needs to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. This makes Pops very sad. Grandad and Lou want to help him feel better but everything they try fails. But they keep trying until finally Lou has an idea that works and things are a little bit different they return to something close to normal.
Loss of mobility is difficult no matter the age and it greatly affects our mood and outlook. This book deals with that, the impact it has on those closest to us and shows the power of love, perseverance and family during dark times.
Finding Granny by Kate Simpson & Gwynneth Jones
When Edie’s beloved Granny suffers a stroke, Edie feels as if she’s lost her – but the Granny she loves is still there. Every two seconds, someone in the world suffers a stroke. In Finding Granny, that someone is Edie’s beloved grandmother. When Edie comes to the hospital, she is confronted by the physical changes in her grandmother: muddled words, a crooked face, a woman confined to bed. This isn’t the ‘playtime, bedtime, story-time pantomime Granny’ that Edie knows. ‘That’s not my Granny,’ she says, as she waits outside in the corridor during her mother’s visits. But when her mother takes Edie to watch one of Granny’s art therapy sessions, Edie starts to understand that the Granny she loves is still there. Finding Granny is a heart-warming story of changing relationships and the bond between children and grandparents. It’s also a sensitive exploration of coping with illness and disability that will offer children much-needed comfort.
A stroke can affect people in many different ways, and this book lets children know that things might be a bit different but the person they love is still there even if we can’t always see it as clearly as we once could.
Grandma Forgets by Paul Russell and Nicky Johnston
Grandma is a little more forgetful than she used to be. She can’t remember how the family used to gather for Sunday lunch or how she used to drive to the beach in her sky-blue car. She makes up new rules for old games and often hides Dad’s keys. But that’s okay–it just means her family has to make new memories for her! An uplifting story about a family bound by love no matter what else might be forgotten.
The grandma in this book has dementia/Alzheimer’s and she can’t remember all of the people around her or all of the things they did together. This book deals with the fact that grandma having dementia makes Dad sad and it means she doesn’t remember people’s name and where she put the keys but it’s really about what the people who love her. It’s about the memories they have and about the new memories they are making. This book made me a little sad but in the best way. It was also a Notable for Picture Book of the Year Children’s Book Council Awards 2018.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge lives next door to a nursing home in which several of his good friends reside. Of course, his favorite is Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, because she has four names just as he does. The only problem is Miss Nancy, who is 96, has “lost” her memory. Undaunted, Wilfred sets out to “find” Miss Nancy’s memory for her.
This book was first published in the year I was born and it is a beautiful book. The title of my post is ‘Grandparents and Illness’ but this book isn’t about Wilfrid and his grandparent but Wilfrid and Miss Nancy, a 96 year-old lady who lives in a nursing home next door to Wilfrid and she is his friend. One day he hears that she has lost her memory but what is memory? It’s a big idea for anyone and in Wilfrid’s case he sets out to discover what memories are and then helps find memories for Miss Nancy. This is a beautiful book, it unpacks the idea of memories in a way children can understand and it shows us that memories can be good and sad but the book is always heart-warming. One of the best things about the book is looking at the connections that can be made across generations – Wilfrid gives Miss Nancy a freshly laid egg and she remembers blue-speckled eggs from her childhood.
There is no craft this week but I encourage everyone to go and spend time with grandparents, or the lovely lady who lives in the nursing home next door.
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