About this Program

The MSU Extension Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness for Children Storybook Program is designed to teach children about a form of dementia called Alzheimer’s disease. 

The goals of the program are: 

1) to increase awareness and knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease, and

2) to provide supportive resources to children and families when they have a loved one with the disease.

Authors of the reading guides are:

  • Jennifer Munter, Volunteer Program Coordinator. Jennifer is a former Early Childhood Educator and has worked with children and their families for over 15 years.
  • Marsha A. Goetting, MSU Extension Family Economics Specialist

Brief Summary

This is a story about a young boy named James and his grandpa. In the story, balloons represent memories.  James notices that he has more balloons than his younger brother but not as many as his mother or father.  His grandpa has the most balloons.  One day Grandpa’s balloons start drifting away.  James soon realizes some of Grandpa’s lost balloons are now his to hold.  This book has a unique way of explaining memory loss and can be useful when explaining the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Questions to Ask While Reading

  • Book Cover:  James and his family are all holding balloons. What are in these balloons?
  • Pages 3-4:  James has more balloons than his little brother. Which memory is James’ favorite?
  • Pages 9-10:  Who has the most balloons? Why do you think Grandpa has the most balloons?
  • Pages 17-20:  James and his grandpa share a memory, and both have a silver balloon. What memory do they share? 
  • Pages 25-26:  Grandpa's balloons float away, and James tries to catch them. How does James feel when he cannot catch the balloons?  Who does James talk to when he is feeling sad? 
  • Page 31:  Grandpa’s silver balloon drifts away. Do you think grandpa meant to let go of the silver balloon?

Common Reactions

  • Concerned: Children may feel concerned when the person with Alzheimer’s disease starts losing their memories.
  • Confused: Children may feel confused about why the person with Alzheimer’s disease is losing their memories. 
  • Mad: Children may feel mad at the person with Alzheimer’s disease for forgetting their memories.
  • Sad: Children may feel sad when a person with Alzheimer’s disease loses the memories they share with the child.

Activity Enrichment

  • Practice identifying emotions: Use clay or playdough to make faces (sad, mad, happy, scared). “After you and your child have created your faces, ask your child to identify the feeling being expressed by saying aloud, “I feel___.”
  • Balloons Activity 1: Give your child a piece of paper and something to draw with. Have them think about a memory they have (it can be anything).  Then, ask them to draw a balloon with a picture of that memory inside the balloon.  Write on the back of the picture what the memory is as your child tells you.
  • Balloons Activity 2: Buy some inexpensive balloons and blow them up.  Use a marker to write a memory your child has about a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.   For example, fun, sing, reads book to me, make cookies with, walk with and so on.

Other Tools and Resources

For other tools and resources about Alzheimer’s disease, visit:

Other Books in this Program

Other MSU Extension Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness for Children Storybook reading guides within this program include (click on the title of the book to go to that particular reading guide link):

  1. Ferguson the Forgetful Frog: A Story About Dementia

    by: Dr. Paul J. Gerber
    Illustrated by Veronica Geran Gerber

  2. A Garden of Flowers: A Story About Alzheimer's
    by Marta Schmidt Mendez 
    Illustrated by Andreea Mironiuc

  3. My New Granny
    by: Elisabeth Steinkellner
    Illustrator: Michael Roher

  4. Still My Grandma
    by Véronique Van den Abeele
    Illustrated by Claude K. Dubois

  5. Striped Shirts and Flowered Pants: A Story About Alzheimer’s Disease for Young
    by Barbara Schnurbush
    Illustrated by: Cary Pilo

  6. What a Beautiful Morning
    by Arthur A. Levine
    Illustrated by Katie Kath

  7. When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child’s Perspective on Dementia
    by Toby Haberkorn
    Illustrated by Heather Varkarota