Books are often a way to help children understand the difficult things going on in their world such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease of a parent or grandparent.

2 children laying down outside reading a book with grandparent

If you’re looking for a way to get your child to understand what your loved one with dementia is going through then I have a few book suggestions for you. The first 4 books are good to use with primary grade level students. The 5th book is more involved so this would be better for upper elementary students. The topic on that one deals with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.

Explaining Alzheimer's to a child

This first book would be a good one to use for explaining what Alzheimer’s is. It’s called Weeds in Nana’s Garden: A heartfelt story of love that helps explain Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.

This is a lovely story, written and illustrated by Kathryn Harrison, of a young girl who helps her Nana plant seeds in the garden. One year she notices that Nana hasn’t pulled the weeds in the garden and thus begins the little girl’s understanding of Alzheimer’s and how it affects a person.

The author does a wonderful job of capturing the look of confusion on Nana’s face. I recognized that look on my mom’s face enough times.

The reader can follow the storyline by watching for the tiny fairies on each page and look for the cat.

There are answers to questions that children commonly ask about Alzheimer’s in the back of the book. And $1.00 from the purchase of the book is donated to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

As stated in the book notes, Grandma and Me: A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia was written to help prepare a young child for the journey with a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease. It is written by Beatrice Tauber Prior, Psy. D. and Mary Ann Drummond, RN.

The illustrations are beautiful but the story does not lend itself to one that a child will read for enjoyment. This is more of a reference book and one that tells how the boy kept up his relationship with his Grandma over time.

Other Children’s Picture Books about Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Grandma Forgets by Paul Russell is a wonderful story of the memories the family has about Grandma even though Grandma doesn’t remember them.

My Singing Nana by Pat Mora is another book. The author has first hand perspective in writing this book as both her parents had dementia.

This is another sweet story about a little boy who does a lot with his Nana. But he catches on that Nana is having trouble remembering things they’ve always done together. Billy’s mom tells him that Nana sometimes needs their help.

In the back of the book are several suggestions as to how to help children cope.

Children reading with grandparent outside on the grass

Luis, the little boy in this next story, has a close relationship with his Abuelo-his grandfather. One day, Abuelo walks away from the house. The book is titled, The Day Abuelo Got Lost: Memory Loss of a Loved Grandfather, and is written by Diane de Anda. 

Although life changes, Luis learns that even though he and Abuelo don’t build model toys anymore, they can still paint together.

The Space Between Lost and Found by Sandy Stark-Mcginnis is definitely not a children’s picture book so this is one for older students – even adults! Once again, this is a book written by someone with first hand experience of Alzheimer’s in the family.

I really enjoyed reading this book – not that I didn’t appreciate the others but this one really gets into the feelings of the main character. You feel 11 year old Cassie’s sadness and struggle as she and her father cope with her mom’s diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s.

It’s a very interesting look into how Cassie uses art to work through her thoughts and feelings.

I’m happy to see that there are more authors writing picture books about Alzheimer’s. Now if we could just get the libraries to purchase and put them into circulation.