I have been wanting to investigate how others explain complex issues to people who know little to nothing about said issue. I took to Plymouth Central Library to have a look at what is available in a public space. I found a few examples of this.
The first book I found was in the self help section, but could just as easily be put into the children’s section of the library. “Grandma” is a children’s book about dementia. In this story, the child has a close relationship with their grandmother, who is then moved to a care home. This book highlights the positives of this happening. The child meets new people and gets to play in the home when they visit. Saying this, it does not hide the difficult aspects of this. It still discusses how they feel sad when the grandparent “acts up” and demonstrates that feeling sad in this situation is normal. It is also a reminder the they are still the person you love, just different sometimes.
In terms of aesthetics, the illustrations are naive and quite child like, using crayon, with handwritten text. This adds to the personal nature of the narrative. The backgrounds are plain, with multiple scenes floating on each double page.
In the back of the book, there is more text based information, with common questions and answers in simple english. I suppose this acts as a post story time conversation to have with the children about what is happening in the story and how this may relate to someone they know.
This books reads as a normal children’s story book, which perhaps could be seen as a disguise or a trick, but by presenting complex information like this in a format that is safe and comfortable and familiar for children, I can’t see it as an issue, but a positive thing, in that it opens up this discussion. Overall, the story is very sweet, but carries a powerful message and an aid for children and their guardians to begin a complex discussion.
Shepherd, J. (2014) Grandma. Swindon: Child’s Play Ltd.