As regular readers know, I love intergenerational stories. And when I find one that showcases the bond between a grandparent and grandchild that also includes a cultural tradition different from my own, you know it’s bound to become a Perfect Picture Book!
Title: My Grandma and Me
Written By: Mina Javaherbin
Illustrated By: Lindsey Yankey
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2019
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: grandmothers, friendship, Iran, autobiographical, tradition, religion
When I was growing up in Iran, my grandma lived with us. I followed her everywhere. When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her, too.
In little snippets of her life in Iran, Mina explores the special bond between a granddaughter and grandmother, and the joys that occur in everyday activities.
Links to Resources:
- What do you enjoy doing with a grandparent or other older family member or friend?
- This story is based on the author’s childhood in Iran. Learn about Iran;
- Invite a friend and his or her grandparent to spend time with you and your grandparent. Do you think your activities will be the same as that of the older women or men?
- Check out the Activity Kit.
Why I Like this Book:
My Grandma and Me provides a window into home life several years ago in Iran, told from the perspective of the narrator, a child. Although many of the activities are particular to the narrator’s experiences with her grandmother, like praying at dawn with a prayer rug or purchasing fresh bread from a delivery boy on a bicycle, the love that is evident between grandparent and child is a universal experience to which children will relate.
I particularly liked the inclusion of Islamic religious practices and the scenes that highlighted the respect and affection for those of different faith traditions. Interestingly, as the narrator played with her friend, their grandmothers knitted blankets together and then “donated them to my grandma’s mosque and Annette’s grandma’s church.” I also love the narrator’s conclusion that even as an adult, she still wants to be just like her grandmother who was “kind, generous, and full of love.” What a wonderful role model she describes!
I think My Grandma and Me will be a terrific conversation starter as parents and children, or perhaps grandparents and grandchildren, read this book together and discover how their lives are similar to those in Iran in the not-too-distant past. I also think this book will appeal to anyone wishing to learn more about the day-to-day practice of Islam and religious tolerance.
The delicate and detailed illustrations in soft colors include lovely Persian details that remind the reader that although the love that shines through the text is universal, the narrator’s story and the relationship with her grandmother are uniquely their own.
A Note about Craft:
Javaherbin utilizes first-person point-of-view to tell this largely autobiographical story. As always, this viewpoint draws readers into the story enabling them to better imagine Mina’s activities with her grandmother and think about the things they do with their own grandparents.
A space motif runs through the story, including a scene with the narrator imagining a flight into space. The book culminates with a comparison between the “big universe full of many moons” and the many wonders in the world, and the all-encompassing love the narrator feels for her grandmother.
Learn more about Iranian-born, US-based Javaherbin. See more of Yankey’s illustrations on her website.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!