Granny, Grandpa, Nanna, Pops, Grandpa, Grandma, Gramps, Nan, Oma, Opa, Nonno and Nonna – whatever you call your beloved grandparents, here are some of my favourite books to celebrate them…
Joy by Corrinne Averiss, illustrated by Isabelle Follath
I absolutely love this beautiful picture book by Corrinne Averiss and that's not just because I share the same name with Fern!
Fern’s Nanna has not been herself of late. And when Mum remarks that all the joy seems to have gone out of her life, Fern decides to fetch the joy back. With her catching-kit at the ready, she goes to the park and finds joy in all sorts of unusual places. Whooooshh! But Fern soon realises that joy doesn’t fit in a bag, or a box or a tin! How will she manage to bring some back to Nanna? Emotional, funny and uplifting, this beautiful picture book has a strong message about empathy and maintaining loving relationships with our grandparents. Guaranteed to bring a bit of joy into every reader’s life, this story is a pure delight.
Benji Davies is a master storyteller, and his picture books Grandad's Island and Grandma Bird are two of my favourite picture books out there! Similar to Joseph Coelho's If All the World Were, Grandad's Island subtly explores the emotional topic of losing a grandparent. In this beautifully illustrated tale, young Syd and his grandad take a journey to a wild and beautiful island, awash in colour and exotic animals, and where ultimately Syd's grandad decides to remain. Whilst Grandad's Island doesn't explicitly mention death, Davies skillfully tackles this difficulty subject with great sensitivity and depth, whilst reminding us that our loved ones live on in our memories long after they're gone.
Grandma Bird takes us back into the tender and heart-warming world of The Storm Whale, where Noi is staying with his grandma. Grandma Bird is such a brilliant character - she's adventurous and kindhearted, and the relationship that blossoms between her and Noi is such a beautiful one. And Davies doesn't leave us short on the thrills as Noi and Grandma Bird are quickly swept up in a dramatic rescue!
Other brilliant grandfather and grandson relationships include my favourites, Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, The Building Boy by Ross Montgomery, Grandpa Christmas by Michael Morpurgo and Grandad's Secret Giant by David Litchfield.
And for some brilliant picturebooks about all the great grandmas, grandmothers, nanny's and nanas out there be sure to check out Grandma Z by Daniel Gray-Barnett, Ninja Nan by Hollie Hughes, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, How to Hide a Lion from Grandma by Helen Stephens, Grandmas from Mars by Michelle Robinson and Big Cat by Emma Lazell.
This wouldn't be a booklist about grandparents if Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Jo weren't on it, not to mention the rest of the Bucket Grandparents - Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George, and Grandma Georgina! But grandparent figures have taken a leading light in recent children's books, so much so that they've become some of my favourite literary characters of all time. Fionn's grandfather, Malachie Boyle, from The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle will go down as one of the best grandfather characters I have ever read. And the parental relationship he has with Fionn literally broke my heart and put it back together again. (You can read my review of The Storm Keeper's Island here.) Another magical read featuring the greatest grandparents of all time is Anna James' Pages & Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanders. Tilly's grandparents literally live in a bookshop! And a magical one at that as favourite book characters like Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, start to appear in the shop.
Other must reads include Grandpa's Great Escape by the one and only David Walliams and Christian O'Connell's Radio Boy and the Revenge of Grandad. But one of my all time favourite books that features an unforgettable grandmother is Grace Lin's extraordinary When the Sea Turned to Silver.
But not all grandparents are lovingly gentle...some are hilariously naughty! Think David Walliams' Gangsta Granny - an international jewel thief! Sophy Henn's mischievously Bad Nana! And Kita Mitchell's Grandma Dangerous!