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“Is that man really Ojijisan?” asked Gigi. “He doesn’t look like he can play tag.” –Gigi and Ojiji

Gigi and Ojiji

I Can Read Level 3

by Melissa Iwai
AR Test, Diverse Characters, Teaches About Culture

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Gigi can’t wait for her Ojiji—Japanese grandpa—to move in. Gigi plans lots of things to do with him, like playing tag, reading books, and teaching Roscoe, the family dog, new tricks. 

But Gigi plans don’t work out quite the way she’d hoped. And her grandpa doesn’t seem to even like Roscoe. Will Gigi find a way to connect with her Ojiji? 

Readers will relate to Gigi, who struggles to connect with her grandfather because of their cultural differences. Gigi is a biracial six-year-old girl who learns about her Japanese culture from her grandfather. Several times, Gigi cries because she doesn’t think Ojiji likes her. However, Gigi’s mother calmly explains how Ojiji’s culture is different. For example, when Gigi gives her grandfather a gift, he doesn’t open it and Gigi thinks he doesn’t like the present. However, her mother says, “Most people his age think it’s rude to open a present in front of the person who gave it to them.” Gigi’s mother doesn’t scold Gigi for her tears, instead, she helps Gigi understand Ojiji’s behavior. Gigi’s mother’s patient explanations help Gigi see that although Ojiji can’t play tag or read with her, they can still have fun together. 

As part of the I Can Read Level 3 Series, Gigi and Ojiji is intended for independent readers who are ready for more complex plots and challenging vocabulary. Each page has three to six sentences and large illustrations. The illustrations capture Gigi’s emotions and have cute details, such as showing Gigi’s artwork hanging on Ojiji’s wall. The back of the book also includes a Japanese vocabulary wordlist. 

Gigi and Ojiji is an adorable story that shows readers how cultural differences do not have to keep people apart. Gigi’s family is portrayed positively, and they demonstrate the importance of communication. Adults who want to help readers learn social-emotional skills should read Gigi and Ojiji with them. Young readers will easily connect with Gigi and gladly read about her adventures.  

Sexual Content 

  • None 


  • None 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None 


  • None 


  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • None 
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“Is that man really Ojijisan?” asked Gigi. “He doesn’t look like he can play tag.” –Gigi and Ojiji

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