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Family ties

Children’s Books

Family ties

Four books about dads and granddads

Our Favorite Day

Joowon Oh

Papa does the same thing nearly every day. He rides the bus to town and eats dumplings at the same restaurant. But on Thursdays the routine changes. That’s when his beloved granddaughter comes to visit. On that day they eat twin orders of dumplings at his house and work on a project together. The cut-paper illustrations complement the text and offer insights into Papa’s life: a photo of his wife on the bed table and a picture of them as a young couple on the wall. This simple story shows the mutual love and enjoyment between a grandfather and granddaughter. (Ages 3-7)

Grandpa’s Top Threes

Wendy Meddour

Grandpa is distracted. When Henry complains, his mom says, “Ask him if he wants a sandwich.” Henry does, but Grandpa doesn’t answer. The boy asks about his top three sandwiches and offers his own list: chocolate spread, raspberry jam, and grated cheese and butter. Grandpa’s are tuna fish, egg salad, and beetroot. Gradually, they discover more top threes. Here’s where the story offers an emotional punch. Henry asks, “Who are your top three grannies?” and begins his list with “Granny who is dead.” Grandpa responds with three memories of his wife, captured in impressionistic watercolor illustrations. This is a lovely story about love and grief. (Ages 3-7)

Raj and the Best Day Ever 

Sebastien Braun

Raj and his dad are tigers. They’ve planned a big day out with a list of all the things they hope to do. But when it comes time to check out a book at the library (item No. 1 on the list), they find that Dad has forgotten his wallet. Instead of letting this ruin the day, Raj and his dad begin to improvise. They come up with creative ways to accomplish their list without needing money. The mixed-media illustrations offer lots of interesting details. A humorous twist at the end will ring true to many parents. (Ages 3-7)

Around the Table that Granddad Built

Melanie Heuiser Hill

This bright, cumulative, rhyming story begins: “This is the table that Grandad built.” Each page adds items to the table: sunflowers in a vase, napkins made by Mom, “glasses from Mom and Dad’s wedding. … Everyone has a part.” The feast includes “stacks of toasty tamales” and “samosas, spicy and hot.” The story ends with a full spread showing a bird’s-eye view of the abundant table and hands clasped at the edges: “For these hands we hold, for tasty good food, for family and friends, for grace that is given and love that is shared, we give thanks … around this table that Grandad built.” (Ages 3-7)



“Dad lives with the angels now, and we need to find a new home.” That’s how Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler (Penguin, 2019) begins. A mother and her eight children find a shack in the woods and begin a new life there. The book moves through the seasons as the family brings order to their new home. Inspired by her grandmother’s Depression-era childhood, Wheeler’s story shows a family dealing with tragedy with love and grit.

In My First ABC by Shirley Hughes (Candlewick, 2019) a little girl connects each alphabet letter to her life. When readers reach the letter K, they learn that “K is for Katie—that’s me.” Katie has a mom and a dad and a brother, Olly, whom she loves: “Olly and I can make lots of noise, especially when I am dancing and singing and he joins in with a saucepan and spoon.” —S.O.