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Books Celebrate Senior Citizens

Share Celebrate Grandparents Day -- on the Sunday after Labor Day -- with some books on a "grandparent" theme. Included: A scrapbook kit, a book from Eve Bunting, and an old cat that finds a new interest,

My Grandmother & Me Book Cover


Every kid can get to know his or her grandparents in a special way with two "Memory Scrapbook" kits. My Grandmother and Me and My Grandfather and Me (Kids Can Press) actively involve kids and their grandparents in drawing and writing, creating a family tree, and collecting souvenirs and memories.

The fun with My Grandmother and Me begins with the cover. Lively and colorful illustrations of kids and grandparents together set the tone for what's waiting inside. A punch-out rectangle on the cover cries for a photo of "my grandmother (or grandfather) and me." And the inside back cover has a handy pocket in which favorite pictures or other mementoes might be stored!

Together, grandparents and grandkids can complete the 32 pages that comprise their Memory Scrapbook. Each page spread has a theme. One spread, "Look At Us," has kids comparing their appearance with their grandparent's; there's a place for each to put a fingerprint and a lock of hair. Another spread, "Our Favorite Things," compares at a glance the grandparent's and grandchild's favorite TV shows, colors, sports, seasons, and so on. Other spreads invite the pairs to examine their favorite foods, things they like to do together, what life was like when the grandparent was a child, and much more!

Some of the scrapbook's pages involve a little writing. But, often, multiple-choice checklists fill the bill -- which is great for kids who are reluctant readers and writers. They'll have a real sense of accomplishment when the scrapbook is complete.

Teachers -- these Memory Scrapbook kits would make a great curriculum resource! If you match kids with seniors as part of your curriculum, or if you want to do something special for Grandparents (or "Special Friends") Day, a Memory Scrapbook might be the perfect memento of your special program. Each student could create one for themselves or for their chosen senior citizen.


Grannyman Book Cover Simon is a very old cat. His family tries to take care of him. They keep him comfy in a baby carriage, and they put a bib on him to catch the dribbles when he eats. But Simon feels useless. After such a full life -- which included showing the ropes to a number of new family kittens -- Simon wonders to himself what good an old cat is.

The family senses Simon's depression. The old cat just isn't himself lately.
But they have a plan -- a plan that will give Simon lots to do, lots to look forward to! His spirit revived, the family bestows on Simon a new nickname -- which also happens to be the title of the book, Grannyman (Dutton Children's Books).

Judith Byron Schachner's words and her charcoal and watercolor pictures fill the pages of Grannyman with love and feeling. Simon is the real star of this book, the humans serve only supporting roles.

The parallels between Simon's life and the lives of many senior citizens are clear. In the right hands, Grannyman could be the starting place for a wonderful discussion about the needs and feelings of senior citizens. Even without drawing those parallels, Grannyman is sure to win the hearts of readers of all ages!


(This review and activity first appeared on Education World's BOOKS IN EDUCATION page this summer.)

The day I was seven, my grandfather gave me an olive tree.
"Happy birthday, Sophia," he said.
"Where's the tree?" my brother Georgios asked.
"It is in Greece. On the island," Grandfather said.

Sophia is a bit puzzled by the odd gift she receives from her grandfather on her seventh birthday. She wanted a skateboard.

A year later, Grandfather dies. Sophia and her mother travel from their California home to the little Greek island where Grandfather had lived for many years and Sophia's mother was born. When Sophia finally finds her olive tree, she finds a gift far greater than she had imagined.

Olive Tree Book Cover

I Have an Olive Tree (Joanna Cotler Books/Harper Collins) is the latest book from acclaimed author Eve Bunting. A testimony to the wondrous ties of family and heritage, I Have an Olive Tree is an ideal lead-in to talking with your students about family history.

Accompanying Bunting's heartfelt prose are the bold brush strokes of Karen Barbour's paintings, which bring life to the Greek culture that is foreign, yet familiar, to Sophia's eyes.

Follow-Up Book-tivity: A Family of Silhouettes

Before video cameras and cameras, silhouette portraits were all the rage! Although silhouette portraiture was a difficult skill to master, you and your children can create family silhouettes with some simple tools found in the home.

  • Tape a sheet of white drawing paper to a wall.

  • Seat one family member, facing sideways, on a chair in front of the sheet of paper.

  • Shine a lamp on the seated person. The lamplight will cast a shadow in the shape of the person's profile on the drawing paper.

  • While the seated person sits very still, use a pencil to trace the outline of his or her silhouette.

  • Color or paint the silhouette. (If you prefer, you could place a sheet of colored paper under the white drawing paper and use scissors to cut along the outline.)

  • Display a family silhouette collection.

Make this a yearly activity so children will have a collection of silhouettes that record their growth.

All of the books above are available in bookstores. If your local bookstore doesn't have the book you want, ask your bookseller to order it for you. Or contact the publisher:

  • My Grandmother and Me and My Grandfather and Me, written by Jane Drake and Ann Love, and illustrated by Scot Ritchie, are published by Kids Can Press, 85 River Rock Drive, Suite 202, Buffalo, NY 14207.

  • Grannyman, written and illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner, is published by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 545 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

  • I Have an Olive Tree, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Karen Barbour, is published by Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children's Books.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2005 Education World

Updated 08/15/2005