The best books about a grandfather

1 authors have picked their favorite books about grandfather and why they recommend each book.

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Becoming Joe Dimaggio

By Maria Testa, Scott Hunt,

Book cover of Becoming Joe Dimaggio

This book not only features baseball as a metaphor for what unites us and brings us together, but also celebrates the relationship of a boy and his grandfather who bond over their hero Joe Dimaggio. Set in the 1930’s, it is a beautiful, and heartfelt verse novel for anyone who loves baseball and historical fiction.

Who am I?

I love the way verse novels eliminate unnecessary background and scene-setting. They cut straight to the heart of conflict and emotions. We instantly feel what the characters feel. The lyrical flow of words, figurative language, and freedom to arrange the poems in different ways on the pages taps into a different creativity for an author. Each poem stands alone, telling its own story. While writing Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully, eleven-year-old Jack insisted I tell the story his way. Raw, unflinching, unfiltered. I am in love with this form and plan to write more novels in this format. The book is a 2021 NCTE notable verse novel.

I wrote...

Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully

By Darlene Beck Jacobson,

Book cover of Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully

What is my book about?

Eleven-year-old Jack misses his Dad who is MIA in Vietnam. The last thing Jack wants to do is spend summer with his grandparents. Mom believes it will be good for them all – Jack, his sister Katy, Mom, Gran and Pops – to be together while they wait for word about Dad. Jack expects the worst summer of his life. The first summer without Dad, friends, his room, and all the things that remind him of Dad. When Jack meets a girl named Jill - a girl with a brother who makes trouble for both of them – things they believe are turned upside down. Welcome to a summer of fishing, camping, bullies, and a fish who grants wishes. A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem.

My Beijing

By Nie Jun,

Book cover of My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder

This utterly charming collection of short stories by acclaimed cartoonist Nie Jun offers an insider’s glimpse into the alleys (hutong) of a Beijing neighborhood. Originally written for a Chinese audience, the book portrays a community that is quintessentially “old Beijing” and will be sweetly recognizable to anyone fortunate enough to have lived there in decades past: we see not only famous landmarks peeping out from behind the curved tile roofs of the classic courtyard-house (siheyuan) architecture, but also the green pillar mailboxes, low wooden courtyard chairs, bicycle repair stands, outdoor water spigots and washbasins, colorfully dressed old ladies dancing in the public square, and other authentic details that a book written for an international audience might not think to include.

The stories revolve around a young girl with an almost mystical connection to her quirky grandfather and are full of the kind of “everyday wonder” that…

Who am I?

I'm a historian of modern China who specializes in the history of science. My professional life revolves around teaching history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and writing academic books and articles—but my not-so-secret dream has always been to write for children. For the past decade, I've been a regular visitor to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Encouraged by a chance meeting with a publisher’s representative attending an event at the Carle, I decided to distill my academic book, Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China, into a children’s story. I’m proud that my fans now include elementary-school students…and at least one professional historian has admitted he read the kids’ version first! 

I wrote...

Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming

By Sigrid Schmalzer, Melanie Linden Chan (illustrator),

Book cover of Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming

What is my book about?

Moth and Wasp tells the story of a real Chinese scientist, Pu Zhelong, through the eyes of a fictional village boy—a composite character I created from people I interviewed who grew up in China during the Mao era (1949-1976). Melanie Chan’s illustrations bring the narrator’s memories to life while incorporating traditional Chinese folk art and elements of the Chinese written language.

Pu Zhelong was an insect scientist committed to serving the people by finding environmentally friendly and affordable ways to control agricultural pests. He personified the best of Maoist science, summed up in the phrase “bringing together soil and ocean”—that is, combining Chinese knowledge rooted in the countryside and Western scientific learning from overseas. In Moth and Wasp, the villagers are initially skeptical of Professor Pu’s proposal to breed and release parasitic wasps, natural enemies of the moths that destroy the rice plants. But the city-born scientist wins them over with his willingness to get his hands and feet dirty for the sake of protecting the crops. 

Grandad's Island

By Benji Davies,

Book cover of Grandad's Island

I’m in two minds about this recommendation: on the one hand, it’s one of the few commercially successful books that deals with the loss of a grandparent head-on, while managing to do it in a vibrant, rich book that a child reader is likely to enjoy and request again and again. Benji Davies’ beautiful, detailed illustrations are a visual delight and hit exactly the right note for the subject matter. My reservations come in the fact that the ending seems fudged and confusing: did Grandad actually die? Did he retire to an island? Or did he go to whatever version of ‘Heaven’ your particular (secular or non-secular) beliefs allow? It certainly encourages questions.  

Who am I?

I’ve illustrated and written over 50 children’s picture books and now teach the subject of writing and illustration for all stages up to University level. I’m particularly interested when a student presents a challenging theme a publisher might balk at on commercial grounds: we have plenty of books about pirates, fairies, dinosaurs, and monsters under the bed, but relatively few on the important lessons that life can throw at a child. Race, abuse, depression, or disability (with which I have personal experience) are subjects rarely seen in book stores and can be difficult starting points for a successful children’s book. But the restrictions themselves can often be the source of great creativity.    

I wrote...

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma's Wardrobe

By Diane Fox, Christyan Fox,

Book cover of The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma's Wardrobe

What is my book about?

If you think you know the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, think again! Cat is trying to read the much-loved classic children’s fairy tale to Dog – parents will sympathise with Cat as she suffers question after question from inquisitive Dog. Minimal words and pictures combine to create a powerfully funny book, with two new delightful, engaging, and appealing characters in a perfect debut. The humour is very funny throughout… the simplicity of the drawings, the meta-fiction element, and laugh-aloud dialogue will delight six-year-olds and upwards.

This book was chosen by Julia Eccleshare as one of “the best of 2014” in The Guardian in December 2014.

Katy Has Two Grampas

By Julie Schanke Lyford, Robert A. Schanke, Mariia Luzina (illustrator)

Book cover of Katy Has Two Grampas

This is the first book to feature gay grandfathers, an overlooked and under-represented population in the literature. It is based on the author’s actual family experience, which allows the reader to experience the real emotions experienced by the characters. The author carefully takes the reader on a journey that will be relatable to anyone with an LGBTQ+ family member. This is a story that needs to be told and Schanke and Schanke do it beautifully.

Who am I?

As a gay father of two transracially adopted daughters, I am constantly searching for books that feature families like mine. It is important for children to see families that look like theirs represented in their storybooks. Unfortunately, there is a limited number of children’s books spotlighting adoption and even less featuring LGBTQ+ families. I am happy to share this list of some of my favorites that represent diverse/LGBTQ+ families.   

I wrote...

Scoochie & Skiddles: Scoochie's Adoption Story

By Tom Tracy,

Book cover of Scoochie & Skiddles: Scoochie's Adoption Story

What is my book about?

Scoochie’s Adoption Story is a Firebird Book Awards multi-category winner – 1st place in Adoption, 1st place in LGBTQ+ Families, and 2nd place in Parenting & Family

Scoochie was adopted by her two daddies through an open adoption. In Scoochie's Adoption StoryScoochie takes you on the journey of her and her daddies’ adoption experience. Narrated by the book's main character, Scoochie's Adoption Story is told in child-friendly language with adoption concepts presented in a manner that is easy for children to understand. It is a celebration of family, regardless of family composition or how a family has been created. Through text and illustration, the story represents a wide variety of families and sends a strong message of diversity and inclusion. 

Drawn Together

By Minh Lê, Dan Santat (illustrator),

Book cover of Drawn Together

A young boy and his grandfather are thrown together for the afternoon. They are both lost for words—the grandfather does not speak English and the boy does not speak Thai. What I love about this book is how the spare text in this story manages to speak volumes and the gorgeous, evocative illustrations illuminate their relationship. The language gap and culture gap seems to loom between them. And yet…. unexpectedly, a sketchbook ignites a silent conversation as the two draw their way to a new understanding of and connection to each other. It’s a heartfelt storyso relatablethat beautifully depicts an age-old immigrant experience, the sometimes painful cultural alienation between older and younger generations.

Who am I?

As someone straddling multiple cultures, growing up everywhere and belonging nowhere, I know what it feels like to not fit in. I know what it feels like to want to hide parts of yourself so you can fit in. And so, as a picture book writer and a Kindergarten teacher, I'm always looking for books that share stories about children trying to figure out their place in the world. I didn't have those books growing up. What a difference that would have made in my own journey. The books that I picked are unique in the way they portray belonging. I hope you love these gems as much as I do!

I wrote...

American Desi

By Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Supriya Kelkar (illustrator),

Book cover of American Desi

What is my book about?

A young girl longs to know where she fits in: Is she American? Or is she Indian? Does she have to pick or can she be both? American Desi celebrates the experiences of young children growing up first and second-generation Indian American: straddling the two cultural worlds they belong to, embracing all they love of both worlds, and refusing to be limited by either.

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians

By Brandon Sanderson, Hayley Lazo (illustrator),

Book cover of Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians

While the kids have taught me to enjoy the action, I still want humor in my stories. This one has a hero who breaks stuff, sometimes at the most inopportune moments. His family members have “talents” that include being late and getting lost. It’s fun, and very clever, to see how these traits end up being helpful.  

Who am I?

My favorite books—to read and to write—have always been funny Christian romances. But all four of my kids prefer fantasy. They want me to read with them, and they’ve been asking me to read nothing but fantasy for years. Now I can say it’s my second favorite genre. In fact, I learned to like it so much I eventually started writing a children’s fantasy series of my own, in between all the mushy stuff. Beyond Wisherton is the first in that series.

I wrote...

Beyond Wisherton

By Amanda Hamm,

Book cover of Beyond Wisherton

What is my book about?

Wisherton is surrounded by a Wasteland filled with terrifying Herders. Sevra Say has lived twelve years grateful for the giant wall that keeps Wisherton safe. But now her life is threatened by something inside Wisherton, something that makes her believe getting past the wall may be the only way to save her family. With the help of her three siblings, Sevra will embark on an impossible quest and come face to face with what lies beyond Wisherton.

The Lost House

By B.B. Cronin,

Book cover of The Lost House: A Seek and Find Book

The Lost House takes readers on a seek-and-find quest through Grandad’s quirky house to recover items needed for a trip to the park. A chaotic visual delight, The Lost House features a vibrant limited color palette on each seek-and-find spread. Cronin charms the reader with unique characters, delightfully complex interiors, and a painterly style. The first in a series, also check out: The Lost Picnic, The Lost Cousins, and The Lost Christmas.

Who am I?

From the ages of 1-4, my son Finn deeply rooted himself into the detailed world of Richard Scarry. These books could be such slow reads that we only needed two of them for long airplane rides. Through Finn’s love of Scarry books, I began searching for more books that delighted with detail. And when I did not see my family’s bicycle-rich lifestyle reflected in books, I created Cycle City.

I wrote...

Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

By Alison Farrell,

Book cover of Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

What is my book about?

When little Etta the Elephant goes to her Aunt Ellen's house, she takes a journey through bicycle-filled Cycle City, a town filled with bikes of all kinds! At the end of the day, a special surprise awaits Etta—the most amazing bicycle parade imaginable.

Detail-rich illustrations in this fun seek-and-find book paint the colors of this unusual town where everyone rides some kind of bike—whether a penny-farthing, a two-wheeled unicycle, or a conference bike, everyone is on wheels! Packed with prompts and lots to see on every page, this is a sweet story for the sharpest of eyes.

Finding Orion

By John David Anderson,

Book cover of Finding Orion

"Everybody’s family is a little nutso. But there’s nuts…and then there’s the Kwirks." A scavenger hunt to find the ashes of their late grandfather! That premise may seem macabre, but John David Anderson has a gift for plotting the oddball, yet heartfelt, storyline with memorable main characters. With Rion Kwirk and his nutty family, he has done it again. From the opening chapter when a clown appears at the Kwirk’s door, singing a message about the death of their grandfather, I knew I was in for a hilarious, fun-filled journey—one that reminded me that being out of the ordinary only makes you extraordinary.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to stories about outsiders and misfits. Who hasn’t, at some point, wondered if they fit in with their family, friends, or school? I love the moments in stories when characters find their voice and recognize that being different can be empowering. As an elementary teacher, it’s my hope that each student in my classroom can share their uniqueness and let their voice shine. I want them to know that it’s okay to feel different or to be weird. The lead characters in the middle grade books I’m recommending all have that sense of being an outsider in some way. I hope you enjoy them.

I wrote...

Worse Than Weird

By Jody J. Little,

Book cover of Worse Than Weird

What is my book about?

"Hank and Coral will never change. They live in their own infinite loop of weirdness." MacKenna MacKensie MacLeod is convinced she has the weirdest parents in the world. They grow their own food, raise chickens, lead drumming circles, and even participate in naked bike rides! What’s worse is that they shun technology—Mac’s true love! Wanting to ditch her parents’ Mother Earth Festival, Mac sets out to win a citywide food cart scavenger hunt and the money she needs to attend her dream summer coding camp. Along the way, she learns that help often comes from the strangest of places and that maybe there are other problems that are worse than weird.

The Snow Bear

By Holly Webb, Simon Mendez (illustrator),

Book cover of The Snow Bear

I absolutely love all of Holly Webb’s books, sometimes she writes about animals in real life and sometimes about animals and magic but whatever she is writing, her books always have fantastic characters and show the bond between humans and animals. I particularly like her Winter Journeys series, they are longer than some of Holly’s other books and sensitively explore different cultures and family relationships. The Snow Bear is one of my favorites. It tells the story of Sara who loves to listen to her grandfather’s stories about the Inuits. One night she goes on a magical snowy adventure with a beautiful polar bear and finally discovers the magic of the Arctic for herself. A gorgeous, wintery story to share or to read alone.

Who am I?

Growing up as an only child, books and animals were hugely important to me – they were my friends and I really wanted to believe in a magic that would allow me to talk to animals and them to me. I have now written over 250 books and pretty much all of them have either magic or animals in or a combination of both – unicorns, ponies that turn into magical horses, star animals who teach the children they bond with how to do magic, mermaids with sea creatures as pets. I really love to write – and read – about magical animals and their very lucky human friends!

I wrote...

Star Friends: Mirror Magic

By Linda Chapman, Lucy Fleming (illustrator),

Book cover of Star Friends: Mirror Magic

What is my book about?

Do you believe in magic? Mia and her friends do and when they meet the star animals who have traveled from the Star World and who teach them how to do magic, they are plunged into a whole host of exciting adventures!

In Mirror Magic, the first in the series, Mia's older sister has started acting strangely and the star animals sense dark magic at work. Soon, Mia discovers that the new compact mirror that her sister, Cleo, has been using must be to blame. Can Mia and her star animal, a fox named Bracken, help make things right and stop the dark magic before it’s too late?

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

By Jacqueline Kelly,

Book cover of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Calpurnia Tate lives in a small dusty Texas town. Her father is a farmer but her mother sees herself as a lady, and wants her only daughter to be one too. Unfortunately, that means wearing frilly dresses and learning to cook, clean, and sew. What Calpurnia wants is to study animals and plants like her naturalist grandfather, which means getting dirty. My sympathies were all with Calpurnia. I remember what it was like to play in the creek and dig in the dirt. It was better than dressing in ruffles and lace any day!

Who am I?

All my life I’ve been pushing against limits. Being the oldest of five children born to a farm couple who became mill workers, I was frequently reminded by family that “people like us” did not need much education, didn’t get the good jobs, and shouldn’t “rise above themselves.” Being a girl, I had additional limits. Naturally, when I learned to read, I was drawn to books in which characters broke through unfair restraints to have adventures and accomplish great deeds. I wanted to be one of those people. By the time I came of age, I knew I had a shot at becoming the heroine of my own story!

I wrote...


By Faye Gibbons,

Book cover of Halley

What is my book about?

Halley is a fourteen-year-old girl in Depression-era Georgia. Her father has died and she, along with her mother and brother, must move in with her domineering preacher grandfather. Pa Franklin has no sympathy for Halley’s desire to get an education. The only future he sees for her is marriage and children. Until then he considers any money she earns as rightfully his.  In fact, he is ready for her to drop out of school and go to work at a local mill. Waiting for the Rapture, when Jesus will return, may satisfy others, but Halley wants more. She yearns for some control over her own life. An education, she hopes, might allow that.

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