Grandfather Counts

by Andrea Cheng (Author) Ange Zheng (Illustrator)

Grandfather Counts
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In this contemporary intergenerational story, a biracial girl and her Chinese grandfather overcome language differences and develop a special bond.

Gong Gong (Grandfather) is coming from China to live with Helen's family. Helen is excited, but anxious. How will she and her siblings, who know only English, communicate with Gong Gong, who speaks only Chinese?

At first Gong Gong keeps to himself, reading the Chinese newspapers he brought with him. Then one day, as Helen sits outside watching for the train that runs behind her house, Gong Gong joins her. He starts counting the train cars in Chinese, and then teaches Helen the words. Helen reciprocates by teaching Gong Gong to count in English. Soon Helen and Gong Gong are teaching each other more words, and a special bond between them begins to develop and grow.

A moving intergenerational story, Grandfather Counts highlights the universality of the love shared between grandparent and grandchild, a love that helps them cross the boundaries of language and culture.

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Review quotes

"The book's theme of cultural assimilation is subtly renedered . . . and the illustrations are fittingly textured and tender."
Andrea Cheng
When she was eight, Andrea Cheng cleared out a space behind her house and made a garden just like the one in this book. Though she passed away in 2015, her books will continue to inspire. Learn more at

Patrice Barton earned a BFA in studio art from the University of Texas-Austin and illustrates books for children. Visit her at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Lee & Low Books
Publication date
September 01, 2000
Reading Rainbow Books
BISAC categories
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
Library of Congress categories

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