Grandma-in-the-know book list

Dec 16, 2009 at 1:18 p.m. ET

Three recent releases celebrate the 21st-century grandma in all her diversity and brilliance. Hot Granny: Fabulous at 50, 60, and Beyond: The Hip Grandma's Handbook and Good Granny/Bad Granny champion the modern grandmother, an active participant in everything life has to offer whose grandchildren are a singular joy but not singular joy.

Senior Woman Reading Book

Hot Granny

Of these, Hot Granny (Chronicle Books, 2007), by popular author, radio host, and columnist Mel Walsh (with spunky illustrations by Chuck Gonzales), informs as much as it entertains, admirably addressing myriad issues of interest to older women. From the emotional importance of spending time with girlfriends to the crucial need to take care of one's health and from being a single granny looking for love to a long-married granny facing unexpected and often embarrassing intimacy and grooming issues, Walsh's book tackles it all with an easy prose style that amuses as much as it encourages:

'One hundred years ago, the average woman was dead by her late forties. Out the door, toes up, finito. But today, in a history-making leap of good health and longevity, we older women have time -- maybe thirty or forty extra years -- to play, explore, laugh, love, learn, and develop our Hot Granny selves.'

Hip Grandma

The Hip Grandma's Handbook (Falls Media, 2007), the first book born out of the Hip Grandma's Club and its founder, author and teacher Linda Oatman High, takes a similar approach to that of Hot Granny, but with a more punk-rock attitude. High sees no reason why a grandma shouldn't turn up the Led Zeppelin, plop herself down next to her grandchild on their matching beanbag chairs, and jointly plan a multi-generation ski or surf vacation.

More conservative readers might bristle at Hip Grandma's decidedly liberal viewpoint on everything from breast-feeding to the military, but most readers should find something useful in the sorted-by-age suggestions for kid-friendly activities. Many will also appreciate the hundreds of relevant Website recommendations for subjects such as child safety, women's fashion, and potty training that appear throughout the book.

Packed with information and resources, The Hip Grandma's Handbook will inspire many to form their own clubs, but remember to read the official 'Rules for Forming Your Own Local Branch of the Hip Grandma's Club' before you do!

Good vs. Bad

On the even lighter side, Mary McHugh's delightful little gift book Good Granny/Bad Granny (Chronicle Books, 2007) humorously explores, in the context of today's grandmother, the angel and devil we all have within us: 'Good Granny teaches her grandchildren to make roast chicken and baked potatoes, with gingerbread cookies for dessert. Bad Granny shows them how to look up take-out restaurants in the Yellow Pages.'

In Patricia Storms's charming illustrations, Good Granny tends to look more like the old stereotype of a grandmother, with a bun and, yes, 'granny glasses,' and Bad Granny favors hipper clothing and far more stylish eyewear, but this exaggerated disparity only adds to the fun. Good Granny/Bad Granny is sure to be enjoyed by grandmothers who embrace their complex lives with both humor and zest.

For more grandparent articles on SheKnows:

Unique grandparent names: Just call me Oma
Grandma's babysitting boundaries
Grandparents to the rescue