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Picture Books to Read with Grandma & Grandpa On Grandparent’s Day

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t even know National Grandparent’s Day existed until my adult years. This is probably because it didn’t originate in the United States until the year 1978. It’s often one of those holidays that can be easily overlooked especially since it’s right around back-to-school, Labor Day and adjusting to new routines for both kids and adults.

Of course, one way the kids and I will be celebrating Grandparents Day is by reading lots of grandparent-related books like the ones listed below.  I’ve categorized some fantastic books for your to enjoy with your little readers. Hopefully you find at least one book from this list that resonates with you. Enjoy!

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African-American/Black

Grandad Mandela by by Ambassador Zindzi Mandela, Zazi and Ziwelene Mandela, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Grandad Mandela is a beautiful and important story told from the perspective of Mandela’s two youngest great-grandchildren and daughter.  The story begins with little Zazi and Ziwelene approaching their grandmother (Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zindzi) to tell them about their great-grandfather after finding a photograph of him around the house.  Mandela’s daughter goes on to her grandchildren the story of why Mandela went to jail when she was just eighteen months old.

Grandaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy

Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights era.  A  powerful and touching true-life story shares one boy’s perspective of growing up in the segregated South.

Time Together: Me and Grandma by Maria Catherine

Time with grandma is always special, and these special moments are captured in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From biking to bird watching, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

When Grandmama Sings by Margaree King Mitchell
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When Grandmama Coles gets a big chance, Belle gets one, too. Belle’s going to spend the summer touring the South with Grandmama and a swing jazz band! Belle’s never been outside Pecan Flats, Mississippi, and she can’t wait to go on the road with Grandmama, helping her read signs and menus and hearing her sing. There are so many new things to see on their travels through the Deep South. But some things aren’t new. Everything is segregated, just like at home. But Grandmama stands up for what’s right. And when she sings, Belle knows that Grandmama’s song can bring everyone together.

Grandmother and I by Helen E. Buckley
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Grandmother and I are sitting on the big chair, rocking. We rock back and forth, and back and forth.  Other people have laps for sitting on and backs for riding on. But when you have a cold or lighting is coming, nothing feels quite as right as rocking on Grandmother’s lap, listening to the little tunes that she hums.

Grandfather and I by Helen E. Buckley
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Everybody is in such a hurry these days–mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. About the only people who aren’t in a hurry are grandfathers. With them there is always time to stop…and look…just as long as you like.  This gentle story about the warm, happy relationship between the oldest and youngest ones in the family was originally published in 1959 with illustrations by Paul Galdone.

15 Things Not to Do With a Grandma by Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
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The hilarious follow-up to 15 Things Not to Do with a Baby has all the warmth and humor of its predecessor, focusing on the relationship between children and their granny. DON’T hide an elephant in Grandma’s bed. DON’T send Grandma up to the moon in a rocket, or wear her pants on your head, or give her squashed jelly beans on toast for breakfast. But do… dance with Grandma, listen to Grandma’s stories, hug her and love her lots. She loves you!

Don’t Call Me Grandma
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Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother.

Bigmama’s by Donald Crews
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Four African American children travel with their mother, and when the train arrives in Cottondale, Florida, the summer at Bigmama’s house begins! Donald Crews brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and emotions of a memorable childhood experience.

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin
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When a young boy learns about what makes art special—sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it tells a story—he realizes that these same characteristics are what make his grandmother special, too. As a result, he finds the inspiration to create his own masterpiece that’s one of a kind.

The Baby on the Way by Karen English
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In an urban rooftop garden, a young African American boy named Jamal initiates an intriguing conversation with his grandmother when he asks her if she was ever a baby. Turns out Grandma was even once ?the baby on the way,? and she proceeds to tell the story of her birth, the tenth child in a poor farming family. As she discusses the events and traditions that accompanied her welcome to the world, from the fetching of the midwife to a folkways ritual of drinking water from a thimble, vivid, expressionistic paintings from a talented new illustrator evoke the past.  A gentle and satisfying book that will inspire young readers to gather other stories about being the baby on the way.

Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield
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Seeing her beloved grandfather making a mean face while he rehearses for one of his plays, Tamika becomes afraid that someday she will lose his love and he will make that mean face at her.

Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip by Denia Lewis Hester
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Grandma Lena takes good care of the turnips she plants in her garden. One turnip grows so big that Grandma can’t pull it out of the ground! Even when Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, and the dog help Grandma yank and tug, the big ol’ turnip doesn’t budge.

Asian
Mei-Mei Loves the Morning
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Set in a contemporary city in China, depicts a typical morning in the life of young Mei-Mei and her grandfather. The warm and engaging watercolor illustrations bring this intergenerational story to life.

Grandfather Counts by Deborah J. Short
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When Helen’s grandfather, Gong Gong, comes from China to live with her family, he’s shocked to find that none of his grandchildren speak Chinese. How will he communicate with them? At first he keeps to himself. Then one day he joins Helen to watch the trains. He starts counting the train cars in Chinese, and she repeats the words. Then Helen says the numbers in English. They continue to teach each other, and Helen even learns her Chinese name, which means “flower.” In this luminously illustrated intergenerational story, the devotion between a young girl and her grandfather helps them overcome barriers of age and language. Grandfather Counts was selected as one of the 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).

A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu
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Mei Mei’s grandpa is practicing tai chi in the garden, and Mei Mei is eager to join in. As Gong Gong tries to teach her the slow, graceful movements, Mei Mei enthusiastically does them with her own flair. Then Mei Mei takes a turn, trying to teach Gong Gong the yoga she learned in school. Will Gong Gong be able to master the stretchy, bendy poses?

Dear Juno by Soyung Pak
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Juno’s grandmother writes in Korean and Juno writes in drawings, but that doesn’t mean they can’t exchange letters. From the photo his grandmother sends him, Juno can tell that she has a new cat. From the picture he makes for her, Juno’s grandmother can tell that he wants her to come for a visit. So she sends Juno a miniature plane, to let him know she’s on the way.

Caribbean (Cape Verde)
Seaside Dream by Janet Bates
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Tomorrow is Grandma’s birthday, and the house is overflowing with family and friends. Hugs, laughter, and the smells of delicious food fill the air as everyone gets ready for a beach party. Cora is excited, but she is also worried because she still does not have a present for Grandma. Cora cannot think of anything special enough. Cora knows her grandmother misses her home country, Cape Verde. After a nighttime walk on the beach with Grandma, Cora finally comes up with an idea for the perfect gift. It is one that both of them will always remember and a way to help Grandma reconnect with faraway family.

Indian

Indian Shoes by Cynthia L Smith

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins…or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?  Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia
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Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world s best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti Overflowing with family, food, and a tall stack of fun, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy.

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi
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One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village.  Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud?

In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light.

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi
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At Grandfather Gandhi’s service village, each day is filled, from sunrise to sunset, with work that is done for the good of all. The villagers vow to live simply and non-violently. Arun Gandhi tries very hard to follow these vows, but he struggles with one of the most important rules: not to waste.

How can throwing away a worn-down pencil hurt anyone? How can wastefulness lead to violence? With the help of his grandfather, Arun learns how every wasteful act, no matter how small, affects others. And in time he comes to understand the truth of his grandfather’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Italian
A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting
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Tony thinks it’s dumb to go all the way to Liberty Island for a birthday picnic. But that’s before he understands what the Statue of Liberty means to Grandma.

Latino/Latina

A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz

Abuela can’t help thinking how much she’d like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week — a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela’s dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all.

Abuela by Arthur Dorros
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Dive into Spanish text and fly high over beautiful New York City with Rosalba and her grandmother in Arthur Dorros’ enchanting Abuela.

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
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Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa“), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better.

Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez

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Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengue-the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico-sharing her memories and passions with Eric.

But Eric sees Grandma in a new light when she gets them tickets to hear their favorite band in concert. The music sounds so different than it does at home on their scratchy records. And then the lead singer serenades Grandma right in front of the whole audience!

Multicultural
Ladder to the Moon by  Maya Soetoro-Ng
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From Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a lyrical story relaying the loving wisdom of their late mother to a young granddaughter she never met.

Little Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma, who would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could, Mama says. And one night, Suhaila gets her wish when a golden ladder appears at her window, and Grandma Annie invites the girl to come along with her on a magical journey. In a rich and deeply personal narrative, Maya Soetoro-Ng draws inspiration from her mother s love for family, her empathy for others, and her ethic of service to imagine this remarkable meeting. Evoking fantasy and folklore, the story touches on events that have affected people across the world in our time and reaffirms our common humanity.

Other
Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies
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At the bottom of Syd’s garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad’s house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn’t in any of the usual places. He’s in the attic, where he ushers Syd through a door, and the two of them journey to a wild, beautiful island awash in color where Grandad decides he will remain. So Syd hugs Grandad one last time and sets sail for home. Visiting Grandad’s house at the bottom of the garden again, he finds it just the same as it’s always been — except that Grandad isn’t there anymore. Sure to provide comfort to young children struggling to understand loss, Benji Davies’s tale is a sensitive and beautiful reminder that our loved ones live on in our memories long after they’re gone.

Joone by Emily Kate Moon
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oone likes the color orange, ice-cream sandwiches, and playing outside. She lives in a yurt with her grandfather and her pet turtle, Dr. Chin, who rides around on her hat. Grandpa teaches Joone something new every day. Sometimes Joone teaches him something new, too, like how to make a daisy chain. Together they enjoy life’s small joys—sunsets, tree houses, and most of all, each other.

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
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Grandpa Green wasn’t always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green’s great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.

Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci
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A child who loses a beloved grandparent finds comfort in carrying on the activities they shared in this sweet, genuine look at a universal rite of passage.

Grandma is always on her knees in the dirt, with her gardening gloves on, talking to her roses and laughing with the birds-of-paradise. Her home brims with plants and blossoms, and on hot days, she waters her granddaughter, her “most special flower of all,” with the garden hose. But a day comes when Grandma is no longer there to care for the little girl, who feels sad and small and alone until she remembers all that her grandmother taught her — and all that she now has to teach. Full of light and life and the solace of green growing things, this moving and beautifully illustrated picture book explores a timeless bond with warmth and joy.

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
nanainthecity
In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city.

Our Granny by Margaret Wild
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Two children compare their granny with others. Some grannies have thin legs, fat knees, crinkly eyes, or big soft laps. Their granny has a wobbly bottom and wears an old red sweater that was grandpa’s. She has a style all her own–and to the children who love her, this granny is perfect. Full of warmth and good humor.

Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anna Dewdney
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It’s an exciting day for Llama Llama; he’s going to visit Gram and Grandpa Llama and spend the night! His first night away from home….and from Mama. But he makes sure to pack everything he needs. And there are so many fun things to do with Gram and Grandpa. It’s not until he gets ready for bed that he realizes that he’s forgotten something important. Fuzzy Llama! Fortunately, Grandpa Llama has a wonderful solution and soon Llama Llama is having sweet dreams.  May you rest in peace, Anna Dewdney.

Baking Day at Grandma’s by Anika Denise
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Three bouncing little bear siblings, wrapped tight in their winter clothes, can’t wait to tromp through the snow for Baking Day at Grandma’s!  In a rhyming text that begs to be sung, the bears and their grandma pour and mix and stir–with breaks for hot cocoa and dancing–to create the perfect wintry treat. Then they wrap it up in ribbons to show that sweets are even better when they’re shared. With a recipe in the back, this is a perfect family feel-good story for the fall, winter, and any holiday spent with grandparents.

Grandpa and Me by Karen Katz
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Let’s make a pizza with Grandpa! You can help. Lift the large, sturdy flaps to find everything you need.

Grandma and Me by Karen Katz
grandmaandme
This lift-the-flap book continues Katz’s board book series, following Where is Baby’s Mommy?, with this celebration of spending time with a special grandmother.

How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
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Written in a how-to style, the narrator gives important tips for “babysitting” a grandpa, including what to eat for snack (anything dipped in ketchup, ice cream topped with cookies, cookies topped with ice cream) what to do on a walk (find lizards and dandelion puffs, be on the lookout for puddles and sprinklers), and how to play with a grandpa (build a pirate cave, put on a scary play).

Filled with humor, energy, and warmth, this is a great gift for or from a grandparent, and perfect for lap reading when Grandpa comes to visit!

How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
howtobabysitagrandma
When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky . . . it’s a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time. (Be sure to check out the sections on: How to keep a grandma busy; Things to do at the park; Possible places to sleep, and what to do once you’re both snugly tucked in for the night.)

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
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When Alice Rumphius was a little girl, she lived with her grandfather, an artist, by the sea.  During the day, he let her help him with his paintings. In the evening, he talked about his childhood in a faraway land.

Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went.

Time Together: Me and Grandpa by Maria Catherine

Small moments between a grandpa and child are chronicled in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From taking a nap to reading the newspaper, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

Your turn:  How will you be celebrating Grandparent’s Day with your little ones?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

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