Three top children’s books for grandparents to read with their grandchildren this holiday

Kate Agnew of Muswell Hill’s Children’s Bookshop explains the important role grandparents play in a child’s education.

All year round we are always very conscious at the Children’s Bookshop of how important a role grandparents play in family life. Week in, week out during term time we see local grandparents providing regular after-school and day care for their grandchildren, but with the long weeks of the summer holidays their role becomes yet more important. Grandparents, both local and those visiting from further afield, are constantly in and out of the bookshop, some on holiday, others about to set off, some with, and others without, their grandchildren, but all playing a key part in children’s extended holidays, and especially in their choice of summer reading matter.

One thing we’ve noticed grandparents are particularly good at is encouraging children to enjoy the classics. Often they have more time than hard-pressed parents to read aloud to older children and this can be the perfect introduction to many of the longer and more complex classic books. It makes for a winning recipe, with children being introduced to a wide range of wonderful stories while they have both the hours and the mental space to “get into” them.

At this time of year, one great shared favourite is Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, a wonderful holiday adventure to enjoy, especially beloved of those heading off to the Lake District. Another is the Secret Garden, with its glorious evocation of the life-enhancing pleasure of time spent creating and nurturing a garden. It’s a much-loved book, appreciated by multiple generations and perfect for sharing over the long holiday.

Meanwhile plenty of picture books celebrate that special relationship between grandparent and child. Any visiting grandparents providing summer holiday childcare will appreciate How To Hide A Lion From Grandma in which Grandma comes to babysit for a weekend equipped with some surprisingly heavy luggage. Her arrival poses a problem for granddaughter Iris, whose pet lion will clearly have to hide for the duration since having a lion in the house is bound to make Grandma anxious. Hiding him is no easy feat, but how will Grandma really react if she discovers the truth? Observant small children may already have spotted the huge trunk that arrived with Grandma and wondered about the contents of her shopping trolley. This appealing book is a lovely reminder of the warmth and empathy that makes relationships between small children and their grandparents so very special and which can make shared summer holiday-time such fun.