If you are looking for a story about understanding aging, disabilities, acceptance, and compassion, this Amazon #1 Best Seller in four categories (Multigenerational Families, Aging Parents & Eldercare, Children’s Maturing Books, and Children’s Camping Books), is the book for you. This multi-award-winning children’s book in categories including disability awareness and special needs, is beautifully illustrated taking place in a mountain setting with nature all around. It is a sweet story to help explain the impacts of aging and disabilities in general. It is about a boy and his grandpa as they are trekking on a Colorado trail where little Joey sees his grandpa is acting differently. What Joey doesn’t understand is that Grandpa is experiencing disabilities that come along with aging. Joey misinterprets Grandpa’s inability to do what he could do with him in the past as a reflection on him, questioning whether his grandpa still loves him anymore. Misunderstandings such as this are common and require communication to get the big, the true picture of what really is happening. This is a multigenerational story which is wonderful for parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends to read to with children leading discussion on how easily situations can be misunderstood.
Sonja Lange Wendt is an award-winning author of the Cultivating Compassion in Children books series. Her books are intergenerational and address important and sometimes difficult topics with children on inclusion, acceptance, disabilities, bullying and aging. Serina and Seymour Seed kick off and end each story. Seymour and Serina are the seeds of compassion children have, but sometimes they need planting and nurturing to cultivate the best in them. Through increasing awareness, understanding and discussion, these books teach that using compassion in different situations shows kindness in the greatest way in this sometimes difficult to navigate world.
Sonja uses a variety of setting and characters from grandparents, little girl, little boy, and bugs to engage children in the stories. The settings all include nature and the outdoors. Each story ends with thought provoking questions to be asked by the adult and discussed with the child.
These books are generally fitting for children ages 4-8 but as C.S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Her books are brilliantly illustrated with vivid colors and scenery.
Aging is difficult. Who wants to lose their physical and mental abilities, and their independence? We see hearing aids, canes, and walkers and cringe. Little kids don’t understand some of the pain, suffering and disabilities that aging may cause. Kids don’t realize that grandpa may be speaking loudly, not because he’s mad at them, but because he’s adjusting to new hearing aids. Grandma may not be able to keep up with little Sarah like she did last year while hiking on a favorite trail or might not have as much patience or stamina since her body feels achy today.
The messages of not accepting natural processes of aging are similar to kids accepting themselves as they are, even if they are not skinny, athletic, popular, smart, funny or beautiful. Intergenerational learning helps people understand the commonality of the human experience. Bridging the generations rather than setting up barriers, brings people together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities and support. This promotes greater awareness and respect between generations and contributes to building more cohesive communities and relationships. Intergenerational practices are inclusive, welcoming and creates a bigger picture enhancing understanding which is the nourishment to growing compassionate people and relationships.
What are you going to do June 1 to acknowledge Intergenerational Day?
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