September is World Alzheimer’s Month, an apt time to help raise awareness about this disease. The statistics are devastating — in the United States, for example, 5.4 million individuals in this country live with Alzheimer’s disease.
So what does this have to do with our work as children’s librarians?
How many preschool/school-age grandchildren, children, friends & neighbors do you think these 5.4 million people have? How many parents, teachers, and caregivers are struggling with how to open a discussion about this topic with their kids? Many of these adults will reach out to librarians in an effort to find materials which they can use in this manner.
There are an increasing number of books which could be useful for grownups to share with their kids; here are a few of them.
Striped Shirts and Flowered Pants by Barbara Schnurbush is suitably subtitled “A Story About Alzheimer’s Disease for Young Children.” This picture book format gently tells the story of a young girl who begins to notice changes in her grandmother’s behavior. With the support of her parents, she learns more about Alzheimer’s and what the future might bring as her grandmother’s disease progresses.
Still My Grandma by Veronique Van den Abeele focuses on the enduring love a child feels for her grandparent who is now living in a nursing home facility. The final page sums it up: “It’s true that she’s not the same person she used to be, but she’s still my Grandma and I love her very much. She loves me too.”
Singing with Momma Lou by Linda Jacobs Altman is a picture book story for a slightly older audience. Opening with nine-year-old Tamika’s reluctance to visit her grandmother in the nursing home, and progressing through her efforts to re-ignite sparks of memory through the use of newspaper clippings and photographs, this story is an inspirational tribute to a participant in the American civil rights movement as well as a story about the progression of Alzheimer’s.
My Grandma Has Alzheimer’s Too, by Joseph Voight, is a ten-year-old boy’s real thoughts about life after his grandmother came to live with his family. Emotional, loving, and powerful, this book is honest in its portrayal of life with someone who has Alzheimer’s.
Have you been asked about books for kids on this topic? What books have you recommended?