Written and illustrated by Anita Crawford Clark
Gnome Road Publishing 2023 (Ages 4-8)
I believe this is a wonderful first. The publisher’s description includes: “An intergenerational story that is certain to encourage a healthy-aging mindset among readers of all ages.” Kudos to Gnome Road Books! Read more about what we learn about aging from picture books. Lindsey
Guest post by Marsha Weiner
In Old to Joy, writer and illustrator Anita Crawford Clark has created a story that conveys how rich, sensory experiences punctuate childhood, imprint memories, and can yield profound insight, connection and meaning.
This book shares how “old” is a positive attribute.
In this atmospheric story, young Joy visits her Grandmama in an old house, on an old street, with old trees and all kinds of old things.
Joy joins Grandmama in a series of old-time experiences:
shelling black-eyed peas by hand instead of opening a can, and washing dishes in a sink of warm, sudsy water instead of using a machine.
She exclaims “Whoa”, as she looks up and through the leafy branches unique to the majesty of very tall, old trees.
Grandmama receives a package from a dear childhood friend.
Learning that Grandmama had a childhood of her own prompts an insight that frequently stuns children.
“You were a little girl like me?” Joy blurts out. “So one day I’ll be old, too?”
It’s a valuable insight for healthy aging.
The package contains “the biggest hat ever” for Grandmama’s collection—eliciting another “Whoa” from a delighted Joy. She dances and poses with the variety of hats: big hats, Sunday morning hats, small hats, and hats for sad times.
Grandmama places one on Joy’s head. “This hat belonged to my mother. Now it belongs to her great-granddaughter.”
Joy is thrilled as she realizes the many ways old things and old ways bring joy. She experiences a deep connection and meaning.
Age Positive activities:
Help children learn about aging, to recognize age stereotypes and to anticipate late life with joy.
Reflect • Share • Confirm • Affirm
Continuity, memory, identity and community give meaning to a life, and old things have the power to convey that meaning. Family heirlooms and personal mementos are not artifacts in museums. They help us share stories of love, loss, joy, strength and connection.
Children welcome feelings connected to their elders—the stories of old ways and to old things.
Given the acuity of a child’s sensory experiences, handling old things and experiencing those old ways consecrates a connection with the past. The hat Grandmama placed on Joy’s head embodied such a connection.
Consider giving a special family item to a young family member
—something that can’t be broken or lost. A button, a scarf, a glove… a hat.
Along with the stories and the sensory experience of old items, you’ll be giving the child a piece of their heritage. This contributes to resilience and self-respect. And you’ll imbue them with a stunning insight—they, too, may one day be fortunate to grow old.
*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher at our request.
Find more Age Positive picture books here.
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Recommended new book: There was an old woman: reflections on these strange, surprising, shining years.” by Andrea Carlisle. “Andrea’s glorious wry wit and brilliant wisdom have always lit up her readers and listeners so thoroughly that we stand in line waiting for her new book with greatest joy and gusto…” author Naomi Shibab Nye.