Books

The best books to help the caregiver plan and care for their charge… or for children and grandchildren.

Making sense of Alzheimer’s: books for kids

Making sense of Alzheimer’s: books for kids

by MEGAN JONES

Talking to young people about a loved one’s Alzheimer’s can be difficult — particularly if children are very young.

Families looking to explain Alzheimer’s and dementia to their youngest members may find storybooks useful in starting a discussion.

Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore, a shop located in Toronto’s east-end neighborhood, recently compiled a list of picture books about dementia, aging and memory loss aimed at young children.

Heather Kuipers, the store’s owner, says storybooks can be comforting, and can help guide kids and parents through difficult discussions about Alzheimer’s and dementia.

While families often seek out books that match their situation exactly, Kuipers says that shouldn’t be the primary concern.

“I think families are feeling overwhelmed at the news; tailoring it to their situation seems like yet another project,” she says. “But some great stories don’t match and can still be useful.”

While the list is still growing, listed below are some titles recommended by the staff at Ella Minnow. And for more children’s books about Alzheimer’s, and further tips on how to help children better understand the disease, click here.


The Little Word Catcher

Elise has noticed that her grandmother often loses her words. Once, she knew lists and lists of fantastic ones, but now they seem to fly away from her. Elise wonders if she can catch them, the same way she catches butterflies in a net. Eventually, Elise decides that her grandmother has used up her words, and passed them on to the young girl as a gift. This award-winning book by Danielle Simard and Genevieve Cote shows how families change when a grandparent develops Alzheimer’s, and how the disease creates a bond between grandmother and granddaughter.

My Grandpa

This book by Maria Altes tells the story of a little bear’s relationship to his big grandpa bear, who has Alzheimer’s. Told through the eyes of the little bear, My Grandpa shows the loving and playful relationship a grandfather and his son manage to maintain despite their generation gap, and the confusing or frustrating moments that sometimes accompany Alzheimer’s.

Really and Truly

Charlie’s grandpa used to tell him fascinating stories about pirates and witches and gnomes. But nowadays, the stories have stopped, and often, grandpa doesn’t seem to recognize Charlie at all. Grandpa is sick, and the disease has made it impossible for him to remember many details. He can barely eat, and worse still, he has lost his smile. Charlie is determined to make his grandfather grin again, and decides the best way is to tell the same stories Grandpa once told, in order to make him laugh. While staying frank about the inevitable pain of watching a loved one’s health decline, Really and Truly by Emilie Rivard and Anne-Claire Delisle is a touching book about a young boy struggling to stay positive.

Grandpa Green

Grandpa Green’s yard is magical, but he wasn’t always a gardener: he has plenty of stories to tell about growing up as a farmboy, or the time he had chickenpox or when he went to war. His great grandson, Jack, discovers these stories as he walks through Grandpa Green’s garden, where topiary trees spark memories, and imagination helps to recreate forgotten moments. This whimsical storybook written and illustrated by Lane Smith explores memory, aging and the strength of family bonds. To read a Q&A with the author, click here.  


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