Talking about dementia with the author of I Love My Grandpa

Finding books to help children understand dementia can be difficult.

We talked to author Sally Flint about her book I Love My Grandpa. This charming book can help readers of all ages to understand the experience of living with dementia.

Author Interview: Sally Flint on I Love My Grandpa

Illustration from I Love My Grandpa children's book about dementia

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What is I Love My Grandpa about?

Sally: I Love My Grandpa is a book about a boy’s loving relationship with his Grandpa. Chris’ Grandpa happens to have dementia. He does some unusual things, such as talking to invisible people and getting lost in his own house. We see how Chris helps his mum take care of his Grandpa. The story affirms how people with dementia can still live a valued and valuable life. They can be loved, admired and needed by family members.

What age range is the book aimed at?

Sally: I’m tempted to say all ages. It is well read by adults and children alike in the care homes and libraries that it can be found in. However, I guess the layout, language and illustrations of the book all suggest that it is aimed at children between about three and seven years old. It is full of humour though so is fun for older children too. It’s a great tool to initiate discussion about dementia.

Illustration from I Love My Grandpa

What inspired you to write this particular story for children?

Sally: I am an ex-librarian so I am very alert to how powerful picture books can be. They can share messages about important moral and social issues. I was inspired to write this story because I felt that there is a real misconception about what dementia is. Many people think that it is only related to memory loss.

Often people have heard of Alzheimer’s but are unaware of other types of dementia. I wanted to dispel this misconception in a heartwarming and gentle way. My own father has a type of dementia which has developed as part of his Parkinson’s Disease. So I had plenty of knowledge about the topic.

Have you written any other books?

Sally: Yes, I wrote my first picture book, The Day the Wi-Fi Broke when I was still working full time as Head of Libraries at a large international school. I was lucky as I had lots of children to read the story too and check that they would enjoy it. I was relieved that they did. I followed this with another fun book called Just Five More Minutes which features the same family as the Wi-Fi story.

Finally, I co-authored with my friend Lorraine Illing an ‘IB Parents’ Survival Guide’. This is to help parents aid their children in navigating the stress of post-16 college courses. It includes advice about time management, empty nest syndrome, revision and all that kind of thing. I had to frequently refer back to it when my own kids were completing their International Baccalaureate!

Illustration from I Love My Grandpa children's books about dementia

What made you decide to write books for children?

Sally: I love children, I love reading, (I mean I really love reading!) and I love writing, so it made sense. To be honest I think readers are the most empathetic and empowered people in our society. I am very keen to motivate young readers with fun, accessible entertaining stories.

Where can our readers get hold of copies of I Love Grandpa?

Sally: Well, it is available in all bookshops in Bangkok, including Kinokuniya and Books @53. It is also for sale in several UK independent bookshops. But the best place to get hold of the books are directly from my website store here.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading in your spare time?

Sally: Hmmm… well even though I’m not a librarian anymore I’m still a big kids’ book reader. I just finished Ben Miller’s The Boy Who Made the World Disappear which was pretty good.

I am trying to read more non-fiction, but I’m not such a fan. The last non-fiction book I read was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson which I didn’t overly enjoy. The message was ok, but it was a bit forceful for me. I actually blogged about it.

However, what I really enjoy is all kinds of fiction. I loved Girl, Woman Other by Bernadine Evaristo. I also really quite enjoyed The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I think I’d have given the Booker to Evaristo alone though. I quite like Barbara Kingsolver books too and my guilty pleasure is Robert Galbraith!

Who is your personal favourite author?

Sally: I would have to say, Doris Lessing. The Golden Notebook is a phenomenal book that blew me away the first time I read it. I’m a bit of a fan of all African literature to be honest. Ken Saro-Wiwa is an interesting author and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is wonderful.

Do you have a website or blog where our readers can find out more about you and your writing?

Sally: Yep, my blog address is just my name .com so It is a blog mainly about my experiences as a fifty-something mum. It explores family issues such as empty nest syndrome and travelling with grown-up kids. All aspects of my life I guess. In addition, it includes a section on books with reviews. There are also book club questions and educational posts exploring reading and literacy-related issues.

Thanks, Sally!

Click here for more information on I Love My Grandpa, written by Sally Flint and illustrated by Terry Cooper.

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Alex is the kind of parent who wants to discuss the latest hero movie or middle-grade book series on the school run. She grew up on the Lord of the Rings books and has a background in education & publishing. She believes all children & young people can enjoy wonderful story-telling and loves sharing ideas with others.