How to Babysit a Grandpa (Alfred Knopf, 2012), by Jean Reagan, with illustrations by Lee Wildish, is a charming story. The book opens with these words of wisdom from a little boy who is about to spend the day with his grandpa.
“Babysitting a grandpa is fun–if you know how.”
Our nameless hero goes on to explain all the highlights of a five-year old’s day: snacks, going outside, playing games, and more. He even suggests “bouncy music” to make clean up easier. Every other page or so provides additional tips for would-be grandpa-sitters, such as snack suggestions and ideas for lots of creative play. (I love that there is a T.V in one illustration, but it is never mentioned, let alone turned on.)
Adding to the appeal of Reagan’s text are Lee Wildish’s digital illustrations. His characters remind me of Melissa Sweet’s non-collage work–imbued with love and a sense of humor about the realities of life as a child. There are crumbs all over the table, and the boy’s tongue is set firmly in the corner of his mouth as he draws a picture for grandpa.
Reagan and Wildish have teamed up again for How to Babysit a Grandma (Alfred Knopf, 2014), and it is every bit as engaging as How to Babysit a Grandpa. The style and tone are the same (the boy and his grandpa even make a cameo appearance at the park), but our heroine has her own ideas for activities to “keep a grandma busy.”
Both of these books are perfect mentor texts for Kindergarteners and first graders learning to write how-to books. Children could also come up with their own versions of the lists Reagan has included, or add their ideas to hers. These books could just as easily be enjoyed as read-alouds, or shared in September in honor of Grandparents Day. The possibilities are endless. One thing is certain, though. If you have a 4-6 year old, know one, or teach them, these books should be on your list of How to Entertain a Child.