Award Winning Picture Books!


Albert Whitman Publishing

Albert Whitman Publishing

Not long ago I discovered an award that is given every two years for “the positive portrayal of older adults in books for kids.”

An organization called AGHE (or Association for Gerontology in Higher Education) has awarded this honor to seven books since 2009, including four picture books. Kindred spirits!

Award Winner Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock

Their 2009 award went to the picture book Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock (Ages 7-10; Albert Whitman & Co. 2006). It was written by Sheila Bair, with illustrations by Barry Gott.

Sheila Bair is the former Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). She authored a book for adults addressing the origins of the most recent financial crisis in the U. S. (and also one for ages 12 and up coming out in 2015).

In Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock a wise and worldly grandfather passes on his knowledge around saving versus spending money to his twin grandsons–

“Listen now, for here’s the trick, each buck you save, I’ll match it quick. But spend it, there’s no extra dough, so save your cash, and watch it grow.”

At the end of the summer Brock has amassed a tidy sum, while Rock has apparently squandered all of his on the tiny temptations kids see daily. The lesson is not wasted, and this is the best part in my view (as shared in a School Library Journal write-up):  “Evidently Rock learned his lesson as the tale ends with the twins in their old age as millionaires.”

Zonderkidz Publishers

Zonderkidz Publishers

When making selections for their award AGHE considers:

  • Portrayal of meaningful aging
  • Portrayal of positive intergenerational relations
  • Abbeville Kids Press

    Abbeville Kids Press

  • Diversity e.g, gender, race, ethnicity, disability
  • Appeal
  • Realism of story line
Groundwood Books/House of Anansi

Groundwood Books/House of Anansi

Their four award winners now top my “Positive Aging Picture Book Wish List.”

AGHE is the educational unit of The Gerontological Society of America. One goal is to train educators who specialize in the fields concerned with aging. AGHE has also awarded three elementary readers—find that list here.

Intergenerational Lessons

That's me--far right.

That’s me–far right.







If only someone had imparted that important lesson to me while young…just think! I do recall being scolded for spending 11 cents on a shiny polished stone at the age of nine. And I got endless grief for the $15 wasted on a mangy old mink coat my freshman year of college. (But was that coat warm!)

My own two sets of grandparents were polar opposites. One set spent their money pretty much as it came in—they did travel the world, however their retirement was not planned for, nor pretty. My other grandparents were careful with every expense and financially independent in their later years.

Perhaps someday, when I’m a grandmother, I can brag of the year I took the bus an hour each way to my first low wage job—a  total drag during Minnesota’s winters.

A Resource:  Intergenerational Financial Chats

A recent intergenerational study found that the vast majority of young people were willing to have a financial chat with their grandparents, reports USA Today. (The survey of grandparents and young adults was conducted by the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, in collaboration with TIAA-CREF.) In fact, “73% say that their grandparents have the power to influence their saving and spending habits.”

There are cheat sheets to jump start grandparent talks about money. Available from TIAA-CREF and AARP for three different age groups—beginning with younger than eight. Worksheets, incentives, and certificates are included, along with simple ideas such as:

  • “Talk about how prices have changed in your lifetime”
  • “Listen to their worries.” (Savings are a big concern for today’s young people.)

Older adults in a child’s life can take on a role well suited to sharing past life challenges. How about the times delayed gratification paid off, or the benefits of education?

Were you lucky to have an excellent older role model? I’d love to have your comments.

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