The pleasures of the page
Music changes and so does fashion, but a look through any bookstore reveals the timelessness of some books. Many of the titles you enjoyed as a kid are delighting today’s children. There are books to fit every budget and every kid’s interest. Most fun for grandparents of younger children are the picture books chock full of details you can search out and discuss. Be prepared to read favourites again and again.
For pre-schoolers there are a plethora of alphabet books. One of the most imaginative, and a Caldecott Honor Book winner, is Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson (Viking). Each illustration is based on a piece of the urban landscape. It will have you both looking at your city in a fresh way.
In Frederick Thury’s The Last Straw (Key Porter), an aging camel named “Hoshmakaka” is chosen to carry gifts to a newborn king. Beautifully illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen, whose Orchestranimals sold over 100,000 copies.
The special relationship between an Ojibway grandfather and his grandchild is the focus of Morning on the Lake, by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, illustrated by Karen Reczuch (Kids Can Press).
Silverwing (Harper Collin, by Kenneth Oppel, is the thrilling story of a young silverwing bat named Shade who must make an amazing journey after he’s separated from the colony during the long winter migration. Chosen by Grade 7 and 8 students to receive the 1998 Blue Heron Award.
Carol Matas has created an inspirational story for older children. After the War (Scholastic) is the story of a resilient Jewish teenager who survives the war and finds the strength to discover a new place in the world.
Ask your local librarian or your grandchild’s teacher to suggest titles. Does your grandchild have a particular interest — dinosaurs or science fiction, for example?
Bookstores still stock classic tales, many of them in glorious new editions.
For the kid who may be facing a long car trip in the future, why not check out a book on tape. It’s amazing how that road rage erupting in the back seat dissipates with “Once upon a time…”