Thursday, December 4, 2014

Learning from Picture Books: How to Babysit a Grandpa

Today's feature is a good model for writers who are interested in including lists in their picture books. It's also a lot of fun for primary teachers to include in a unit on families.

Here's the summary from Amazon:

New York Times bestselling picture book about a child spending time with his grandpa. Written in a how-to style, the narrator gives important tips for "babysitting" a grandpa, including what to eat for snack (anything dipped in ketchup, ice cream topped with cookies, cookies topped with ice cream) what to do on a walk (find lizards and dandelion puffs, be on the lookout for puddles and sprinklers), and how to play with a grandpa (build a pirate cave, put on a scary play). 

Filled with humor, energy, and warmth, this is a great gift for or from a grandparent, and perfect for lap reading when Grandpa comes to visit!

How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan and Lee Wildlish was  first published in 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf.

My thoughts as a writer:

This is another example of a picture book that takes a simple idea—spending time with Grandpa—and turns it into something special using the concept of a how-to or “instruction manual.”  Even though the idea was simple, there was a lot of humor in this story with all the lists and funny illustrations to go with them. 

It was really sweet how the book circled back to the beginning at the end when the parents came home, and touching when the child had to say goodbye to Grandpa.  I can see why this book became a bestseller. The end papers of the book are filled with cute “snapshots” of the child spending time with grandpa.

My thoughts as a teacher:

I’d love to read this to my students during an investigation of families, as a way to spark discussion about special relationships with family members and different special activities students do with family members. This book is full of fun lists that would provide a great introduction to list-making as a form of writing, which could be followed up by students writing their own funny “how-to lists.” 

A great companion to read would be the follow up book, How to Babysit a Grandma, by the same author-illustrator team. This would provide opportunities to compare and contrast the stories, as well as for discussion about individual differences and preferences.

If you're looking for more great picture books to read to your class or to investigate as a writer, author Susanna Leonard Hill has a wonderful list of Perfect Picture Books.


  1. Sweet choice form a local writer (CO)!

  2. What a thoughtful review. You told me everything I wanted to know, and now I will purchase it for our grandchildren::) Just in time for Christmas. Sounds hilarious.Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kids will love their role as teachers in this one!

  4. I have seen this book. . .definitely a winner!

  5. Looks like an excellent book! Kids in charge!!

    1. Yeah, it's always fun when the kids take over...ha!

  6. I love "how-to" books filled with fun (and not necessarily "correct") ways to do things. This looks like a perfect book to give a kid who's going to grandpa's house for the holidays.

  7. This does sound like a fun book and I think it is great that there is a companion book. Definitely opens the books up to lessons for teachers (and parents). :)

  8. This sounds adorable. The title and cover should be big draws!


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