Fostering Empathy and Understanding: A New Book Series on Dementia for Children
Atlantic Fellow and psychiatrist Tomás León discusses a new children's book series he created about dementia.
Above: Cover image of "¡Aquí está la abuela!" by Atlantic Fellow Tomás León.
“My name is Diego and I love spending time with my grandmother. She takes care of me after school, we cook delicious things, we play hide-and-seek and she helps me with my homework, but as the years have passed my grandmother is more and more forgetful and tired. I don't really know what's going on. Can you help me find out?”
The passage above is an excerpt from “¡Aquí está la abuela!” (“Here is Grandma”), a new book in a four-part collection that aims to bridge the gap between children and the world of dementia. The first volume is about Alzheimer's disease. The series will also consider frontotemporal dementia and other topics. Below Leon shares reflections on his process of creating the book.
What inspired you to write this book?
My own story with my grandma and her dementia. It's the story I would have wanted to hear when she started with the disease. I also considered that children are usually left out of psychoeducational sessions.
What are the main themes and messages of your book?
The main theme is telling stories of children whose grandparents are having dementia and they don't know what is happening. The main message is of hope that even with dementia, the grandparent is still there.
Above: a scene from "¡Aquí está la abuela!" by Tomás León.
What was the process of creating this book?
I wrote the first one about Alzheimer's based on my story, and then I wanted to do more stories based on other dementias; that was harder, but I used stories of persons living with dementia to inspire me.
What was the most challenging part?
It was challenging to learn to write to children, avoiding use of technical language but at the same time being precise enough to convey the right information. Having to modify the language for children and create a (hopefully) entertaining story was a challenge.
What are your hopes for this work?
I hope to reach kids who may be going through this process and help them, like I would have wanted to someone to tell me. for them to learn about brain health and create change for new generation to come, not only in preventing dementia but also in the way they treat people living with dementia. That’s why its free for all to download and share!
The first two books are now available (two more coming soon) and you can download them for free at the links below: