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Grandfather Counts

Last updated Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Author: Andrea Cheng
Illustrator: Ange Zhang
Date of Publication: 2000
ISBN: 1584300108
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2008

Synopsis: From 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 only know 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.

Note to readers:
•  There is a pronunciation guide on the copyright page.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you have grandparents?
•  Where did your grandparents grow up? Where do they live now?
•  Do you talk to your grandparents?
•  Can you count in another language?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Can you speak another language? Did you have to go to school to learn another language?
•  Do you have a name besides your English name?
•  How did you get that name? Your grandparent, parent, friends, brother/sister?
•  How high can you count in another language?
•  How high can you count in Chinese?
•  Gong Gong means grandfather in Chinese (Mandarin), how do you say grandfather in Spanish? (Abuelo) How do you say grandfather in Dutch? (Opa) How do you say grandfather in French? (Grand-pere)

Craft ideas:
•  Make a paper train. Take a piece of paper and fold in half hot dog style; fold it in thirds. Draw a train on the paper and cut . On the first train car, draw a 1" in English and then in Chinese character; on the second train car, draw a 2" in English and then in the Chinese character, etc.
•  Draw a picture for your Grandparent and write Chinese characters on it. Use the guide on the copyright page.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!