Saturday, September 6, 2014

Celebrating Grandparents - Our Multicultural Picks!

In the U.S., tomorrow is Grandparents' Day. This isn't as big a deal for Americans as Mother's Day or Father's Day, not by a long shot (you don't see ads like "buy Grandma a diamond necklace for Grandparents' Day", for instance). I'm not sure why this is, although it's an interesting commentary on our culture. The sociologist in me is fascinated by this kind of thing. But the mother in me is busy making sure we have a homemade card and a picture for Oma -- no diamond necklaces here, that's just how we roll.

A fun way to celebrate Grandparents' Day would definitely be an intergenerational storytime. I think this would be an awesome program for a library or bookstore to host, but you could certainly do an impromptu one at your own Grandparents' Day celebration or the next time an extended family get-together comes around. I've gathered up some terrific picks to share for such an event - none of which are specific to Grandparents' Day itself, making them the perfect titles to share for the holiday or any time you want to celebrate these important folks in your kiddo's life.

1. Can You Hear the Sea? by Judy Cumberbatch - this vibrant title, set in West Africa, catches readers right from the front cover (got you, didn't it?). The story is simple enough for the youngest listeners, but works on multiple levels to teach concepts and share relationships. I love the messages about trust and caring for one another.

2. All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino - kids will recognize Yaccarino's whimsical style, and adults will appreciate his intergenerational theme of a family's immigrant heritage. Based on the author's family's journey to America from Italy, this story of perseverance and connections will get kids thinking about what pieces of their own family are being handed down for generations. A lovely title on all levels.

3. Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia - this was one of Sprout's favorites for a long time, for the fun illustrations and the playful text. This one's great because it really shows the relationship between Aneel and his grandfather, whom he idolizes. And the elements of tall tales that Zia weaves in make this a true joy to read aloud - over and over again!

4. Suki's Kimono by Chieri Uegaki - a classic title that speaks very much to identity and being confident in your own skin. Suki decides to wear her kimono to school because it reminds her of a special time with her grandma - even though she knows that other kids might make fun of her. All is well in the end, though not unrealistically so. A good choice for older kids just starting to find their identity.

5. Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell - Falwell's books are always a hit in our house and Rainbow Stew is no exception. This one not only has a grandpa taking care of all three of his grandkids, it also emphasizes the appeal of growing and preparing your own healthy food. Great for late fall storytimes about harvest and togetherness.

6. Lottie Paris Lives Here by Angela Johnson - it's hard to say how much I love Lottie Paris. She's pretty much everything I adore about kidlit today - a dynamic personality, full of flair and life, and just a little bit of naughtiness (which makes you love her even more). Lottie's just right for kids who like all things color and sparkle, and will add a burst of liveliness to storytime for sure.

7. My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone - a rhyming book! What fun! This rollicking read features a grandma who's getting around - around the world, that is. Kids will enjoy counting along with granny's purchases even as they are introduced to the concepts of global citizenship. Full of small details that make this entertaining even after the story is done!

There are so many more titles that we could have included, but I hope this list gives you just a taste of all the wonderful intergenerational titles that populate the shelves at your library or bookstore. What are your favorite grandparent stories? Please share in the comments!

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