Forever Friends


These books are some favorites in illustrating intergenerational relationships that are appropriate and enduring. Following this list, you'll find a link to help you select appropriate intergenerational literature.



Written by Libba Moore Gray
Illustrated by Jada Rowland
Simon and Schuster 1993

Neighborhood children love Miss Tizzy and all the fun she shares with them. Roller-skating, cookie baking, parades, and paintings for “people who have stopped smiling” are some of the adventures in this heartwarming story.

Ultimately the children are able to comfort Miss Tizzy with the same enthusiasm and love she has shared with them. This book is perfect for young, old, and all readers in between.


Written by Karen Ackerman
Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Knopf Books for Young Readers 1988

Karen Ackerman’s main character is a former vaudevillian performer who entertains his grandchildren by putting on a song and dance show. In the attic, surrounded by memorabilia, the children are encouraged to join in the fun. They watch as their grandfather finishes his soft-shoe with a click of his heels, a twirl of his cane, and a tip of his bowler hat.

This Caldecott Medal Winner is a favorite of children in primary grades.


Written by Mary Hoffman
Illustrated by Caroline Binch
Dial Books for Young Readers 1991

Grace is a young African-American girl who lives with her mother and Nana. Nana is a constant source of encouragement to Grace and convinces her she can overcome almost any obstacle. When Grace wants to play Peter in Peter Pan, she is told by classmates that she cannot because she’s a girl and she’s black. Nana’s response is to take Grace to a ballet to see Romeo and Juliet. Juliet is played by an African-American dancer. Nana’s message to Grace is that she can be anything she wants to be.


Written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Viking Children’s Books 1985

This American Book Award winner chronicles the life of Alice Rumphius from childhood to old age. A world traveler, she finally comes home to live by the sea and follow her grandfather’s advice to “do something to make the world more beautiful.” Barbara Cooney provides wonderful illustrations to accompany this inspirational story.


Written by Wendy Kesselman
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Dell Publishing Co. 1993

The painting Emma receives for her 72nd birthday isn’t quite right, so Emma sets off to purchase paint supplies and paint her own pictures. When Emma’s family discovers her collection of paintings, they are thrilled. Encouraged by their enthusiasm, Emma sets up her own studio; the story ends with Emma surrounded by her paintings. This is a delightful story of determination and spunk.


Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers 1994

The warmth of this story rises from the friendship between a young African-American boy, Larnel, and an elderly Jewish woman, Mrs. Katz, as they care for a kitten named Tush. Mrs. Katz is portrayed as a woman of wisdom with a story to tell and history to honor. As Larnel spends more time listening to Mrs. Katz tell stories of the past, he sees they share far more than love for a kitten.

The book tells the story of a wonderful intergenerational friendship and creates an awareness of African-American and Jewish cultures.




Written by Sharon Jennings
Illustrated by Mireille Levert
Annick Press 1992

This second book in the “Jeremiah and Mrs. Ming” series plays on the theme of “nothing to do.” Whenever Jeremiah has time on his hands, he knows the best place to be is near Mrs. Ming, for then some very exciting things begin to happen. Riding on a broomstick, playing hide and seek, jumping on the bed, or dressing up in old clothes all help to make time pass for Jeremiah. Also, Mrs. Ming makes the ideal companion, as she is always ready to join the fun no matter what work she is busily doing.

Although readers are no closer to understanding the relationship between Jeremiah and the mysterious Mrs. Ming than they were in the first book, few will care as they enjoy the rollicking adventures of this delightful duo.
Young readers will also appreciate the humorous illustrations in this book. Each picture has something to search out and relish quite separate from the text while still remaining faithful to the story. This book reinforces the strong message that whenever there is nothing to do, reading is a way to bring many exciting things to pass even if only in one’s imagination.



Written by Mary Stolz
Illustrated by Pat Cummings
HarperCollins 1990

Because a fierce storm has put out the lights, Thomas’s grandfather says, “I shall have to tell you a tale of when I was a boy.” But Grandfather’s story about his dog Melvin is prefaced by 18 pages that focus instead on Thomas’s loving relationship with the peppery old man. The discursive, gentle text reflects Thomas’s thoughts about sounds and memories. He wonders about the differences between grandfathers and boys: He has “a chin as smooth as a peach” while Grandfather has “a voice like a tuba.”


Written by Gloria Houston
Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb
HarperTrophy 1997

As Arizona grows up, she longs to visit the faraway places she learns about. She becomes a teacher, and for 57 years she teaches generation after generation of students in her one-room schoolhouse. Arizona ages from a baby to a woman in her 90s. Her students carry the legacy of Arizona with them as they travel to places their teacher inspired them to visit.


Evaluative Questions – How to select appropriate intergenerational books