Grandparents & Good Books


One of my children’s favourite things to do when their grandparents come and visit, is to curl up on the couch—or their beds—and read a bedtime story. It’s something I loved doing when I was growing up too. Even though we read to our children every night before bed, there’s just something special about hearing Nana or Papa read their favourite stories. If you are looking for some new stories that could become favourites, here are a few that highlight just how special the grandparent/grandchild relationship can be.

The first is My Day with Gong Gong by Sennah Yee and illustrated by Elaine Chen (Annick Press, 2020). In this adorable story, May spends the day wandering through Chinatown with her grandfather. But they have a big problem: they don’t speak the same language. Still, before May gives up completely, Gong Gong has a surprise to turn things around. For ages 3 to 7.

Just like My Day with Gong Gong, this next story reminds readers just how magical it can be to spend a day with a grandparent. In Maud and Grand-Maud by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Kenard Pak (Tundra, 2020), Maud can’t wait to spend the day with the woman she is named after. The illustrations in this story are fantastic and they really showcase just how sweet and special the relationship can be. For ages 3 to 7.

As I mentioned, I have memories of the times I spent with my grandparents. But, unlike Mina Javaherbin, I haven’t written them down. However, I am glad she did. In My Grandma and Me by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Lindsey Yankey (Candlewick Press, 2019), Mina recollects the time she spent with her grandmother growing up. From waking up early to pray or eat before sunrise during Ramadan, to building rocket ships from scrap fabric, Mina followed her grandmother everywhere. This story reminds us all, how the special things, don’t have to be extravagant. For ages 4 to 8.

This next story isn’t directly about grandparents, but it is about those around us that we lovingly call Gramma or Grampa. Those wonderful souls who just envelope everyone with their warmth. In Wingmaker by Dave Cameron and illustrated by David Huyck (Kids Can Press, 2021), two ants, Leaf and Lou, take care of Gramma Tinker and help her with her inventions. As the story unfolds, Gramma Tinker, who is an eastern tent caterpillar, is building her greatest invention yet: the Wingmaker. For ages 4 to 8.

Finally, as much as we may want to avoid it, we all know that there will come a time when we need to say goodbye. It’s not always easy to find the words to say. But this next book might help. In Bon Voyage Mister Rodriguez Christiane Duchesne and Francois Thisdale (Pajama Press, 2019) work together to write and illustrate a magical story about how the children of one community said goodbye to a very special man. For ages 4 to 8.

Even if you don’t take any of these suggestions to heart—though they are fantastic stories—I hope you all find fun and enjoyable ways to spend time with your grandchildren, be it through reading, tinkering or letting them use your scrap cut offs to build a rocket ship.

Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children, and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books, check out her website at