Passing on Family Traditions with New Books

Grandparents can have so much fun reading to their grandchildren. And this “Nana” is no exception.

There are two things you should know about me. First, I believe that family traditions and history should be shared with each upcoming generation. Second, I love books and reading them to my grandchildren.

Combining the two is what I do best.

My helpers for this article are Shelby, my 12-year-old granddaughter and Archer, my 4-year-old grandson, who have heard me read to them all of their lives. To narrow down the field of books, I chose ones that appealed to my sense of family tradition and history so I could share these with my grandchildren. Now for some new books for the New Year.

Madeline and the Old House in Paris, by John Bemelmans Marciano

I adore anything French. That is something my grandchildren have learned quickly. And Madeline is everything French! The main character, the little French Catholic schoolgirl Madeline, along with the original series of six books, was created by Austrian author Ludwig Bemelmans in 1939. Carrying on their family tradition is his grandson, John Bemelmans-Marciano with the newest book, Madeline and the Old House in Paris. In this book, the brave little red-haired Madeline and her friends encounter the head of their school, a Lord Cucuface (the name alone was a hit with my little Archer), an antique telescope in a dusty attic, and the ghost of the original owner of the house who had been a lifetime master of the study of the stars in heaven. Archer especially enjoyed the rhyming and the way the children have banded together to trick old Cucuface and help the ghost. Shelby enjoyed hearing a new story about Madeline, an “old friend” from her younger days.

It’s About a Little Bird, story and pictures by Jessica Lange

My entire family has enjoyed photography for nearly a century starting with my parents, and I hope my grandchildren will continue that tradition. The book It’s About a Little Bird caught my eye immediately because of its beautiful, hand-tinted fine art photography by acclaimed actress Jessica Lange. Shelby is very artistic and was intrigued with the hand-tinting process. Archer liked the action photos of the two little girls (even at 4, he really likes little girls), the farm animals, and the mesmerizing golden birdcage found in the dusty old barn. I also appreciated special references to Paris and the French words used in the story. Lange weaves a sweet story of the two sisters who visit their grandmother on her old farm. They play, learn about their grandmother and learn to enjoy life. A rainy day finds them sneaking into the old forbidden barn and finding lots of treasures, including the magnificent birdcage. The grandmother tells the tale of how she found an incredible bird and how she came to purchase the birdcage, which once belonged to the famous actor John Wayne. You will end up singing after reading this one!

Herman and Rosie, story and pictures by Gus Gordon

The book Herman and Rosie is delightful! I love books that begin with “Once upon a time” and I love children’s books that engage adults as well. This is a love story (Shelby, the preteen, tuned into that) between Herman the alligator and Rosie the deer (Archer found that to be a very funny combination). They live in New York City, yet are two very lonely souls. Rosie sings jazz. (I love to go and hear live jazz around Tulsa.) Herman plays oboe on his rooftop. (I played oboe for seven years. Do you see why I like this book?) The story takes them all over, narrowly missing each other in numerous places. Finally, they meet. And you can probably guess the ending.

My family hopes that you will be touched by these new books, just as they have taken us back to “our roots” and brought back some sweet memories of our family traditions. May you and yours have a wonderful New Year full of reading!

Connie Lee Krute has been a Children’s Library Associate for the Pratt Library branch of the Tulsa Library for 11 years and has been a “Nana” for 12 years. She holds an MA in Education from The University of Tulsa.

Categories: Books and Literacy