Relationships With Elders: New Books That Promote Positive Bonds Between Youth and Seniors

Katy Tessman

by Katy Tessman, New School Services Project Manager & Makerspace Specialist


It takes a village to raise a child. Parents depend on extended family, community members, and educators to help teach children about life. Personally, my parents have had an important role in helping me raise my two sons. The bond my sons have with their grandparents is unique, perhaps because they are so much alike yet quite different. And when I really think about it, my grandparents are some of the most inspirational people in my life.

Two of the most beloved children’s picture book authors, Patricia Polacco and Tomie dePaola, are known for their books about positive relationships between children and their elders, as seen in Polacco’s Holes in the Sky and dePaola’s Strega Nona’s Magic Ring. Their portrayal of children having strong bonds with older adults (whether it be a grandparent, teacher, or neighbor) is so important for young people to see in books.
There are many benefits of intergenerational relationships. Youth have much to learn from seniors, and vice versa.  When older and younger people connect, it improves both groups’ well-being. The most common activity these generations can do together is share stories. According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, sometime in the next decade there will be more people over the age of 60 in the U.S. than under 18. Books that show meaningful relationships between children and their elders are a valuable addition to any library. The following titles are some new books that promote positive bonds between youth and seniors.


New Picture Books

Grandma’s Gardens
by Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
PHILOMEL, 2020

In the Red Canoe
by Leslie Davidson
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS, 2020

Our Favorite Day

by Joowon Oh
CANDLEWICK PRESS, 2019

The Keeper of Wild Words
by Brooke Smith
CHRONICLE BOOKS, 2020

Grama’s Hug
by Amy Nielander
PAGE STREET KIDS, 2020

Big Papa and the Time Machine
by Daniel Bernstrom
HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS, 2020

Grandma’s Girl
by Susanna Leonard Hill
SOURCEBOOKS WONDERLAND, 2020

How to Read to a Grandma or Grandpa
by Jean Reagan
KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS, 2020

Accordionly: Opa and Abuelo Make Music
by Michael Genhart
MAGINATION PRESS, 2020


New Secondary Titles

The Parker Inheritance
by Varian Johnson
ARTHUR A LEVINE BOOKS, 2019

Birdie
by Eileen Spinelli
EERDMANS BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS, 2019

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
by Jason Reynolds
ATHENEUM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS, 2019

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