Ont. author’s new book aims to help children understand dementia

An illustrated scene from Kathryn Harrison's book, Weeds in Nana's Garden.

An illustrated scene from Kathryn Harrison’s book, Weeds in Nana’s Garden.

Kathryn Harrison was inspired to create book after her mother passed away from dementia

Helping a child understand Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is not an easy task, but a new picture book created by a Cobourg, Ont. author and artist is aiming to change that.

Author Kathryn Harrison is seen in this 2006 photo with her mother, Bonnie, and daughter, Tristin.

Author Kathryn Harrison is seen in this 2006 photo with her mother, Bonnie, and daughter, Tristin.

Kathryn Harrison recently published her book, Weeds in Nana’s Garden, to help children understand the challenges people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia face. For every copy sold, Kathryn is donating $1 to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

Kathryn says she was inspired to create the book after her mother, Bonnie Harrison, passed away from dementia six years ago. She says she wrote the book to help children better understand dementia and to improve lives of families touched by the disease.

“After my mother’s passing from young onset dementia in 2010 I knew I had to do something to help – something to foster understanding and provide much needed support to families enduring the hardship that is dementia,” Kathryn says.

The book, which contains an array of engaging, colourful illustrations, tells the inspirational story of a young girl who shares a special bond with her grandmother in “Nana’s” magical garden.

The book is rich with metaphor. In the story, the little girl goes to her grandmother’s normally well-kept garden one day and finds it has become overgrown with weeds. She eventually learns that Nana has Alzheimer’s disease and has not been tending to her garden. When the weeds continue to grow thicker, the young girl takes it upon herself to become the magical garden’s caretaker.

The book’s story also guides readers through the typical stages of dementia.

At the end of the book is a set of question and answers Kathryn and the Alzheimer Society of Toronto created to help children learn about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Click here to learn more about Kathryn and Weeds in Nana’s Garden.

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