I was asked recently if I knew any good storybooks for kids that involved dads. It's a much harder question than you would think.
Fathers are given the short end of the stick in kid's books. Often, mothers are the only parent in sight, and fathers don't even exist in the book. Moms cook the dinner, moms play with their kids, moms tuck in their child at night. Where's dad? Oh, he must be working.
Sadly, when fathers are a part of the book, they're often portrayed as pathetically as they are in sitcoms: bumbling, disinterested, or just not involved at all. Look at the Olivia books, just for one example. What does dad ever do in those books besides read a newspaper?
Or else, they're about dads working. There are an amazing number of books out there that feature dads, but the story involves dad going away for a business trip and how much the kids will miss daddy when he's gone. So we're present in our absence.
And then there's all the divorced dad books - "Weekend with Daddy"-type stories. And I'm not complaining, because for all the dads out there in that situation, it's great for them to have something that reflects their reality. But there's not enough books that reflect the other reality - real fathers, as a part of the daily routine in the house just like moms are.
But there are a number of books that show dads in a positive light. I especially love finding books where dads are the caretakers - we tuck our kids in at night, we solve problems, we comfort our kids when they're upset. Because that's what we do, in real life, all the time. Here's a partial list of my favorites, along with suggestions I've gotten from friends. I can't vouch for all the books, but I wanted to provide the longest list possible. Let me know about your favorite books about dads in the comments, and I'll keep the list going.
Night Driving, by John Coy and Peter McCarty. This is my #1 favorite book about dads. It's the story of a boy and his dad driving cross-country at night. The pictures are beautiful and the bond between the father and son is really touching.
- Owl Moon - Jane Yolen
- The Ice Palace - Deborah Blumenthal
- Baby Brains (and the other related Baby Brains books) - Simon James
- The Gruffalo's Child (okay, it's about a monster and his dad, but that
- counts, right?) - Julia Donaldson
- Daddies are for Catching Fireflies - Harriet Ziefert
- Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti - Anna Grossnickle Hines
- The Angelina Ballerina books
- The Lilly the Mouse books - Kevin Henkes (Henkes always does a great
- job giving dads and moms equal time)
- Enemy Pie - Derek Munson (another great bonding book about dads and sons)
- Born in the Gravy - Denys Cazet
- The Summer My Father was Ten - Pat Brisson
- Kevin and His Dad - Irene Smalls
- Danny, the Champion of the World - Roald Dahl (probably for older
- If I Were Your Father - Margaret Park Bridges
- The Trumpet and the Swan - E.B. White
- Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg - Dr. Seuss (not about dads exactly, but Horton = nurturing male role model)
- Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too (where the dads walk their kids to school, and they end up saving the day!)
This is meant to be a partial list. Tell me in the comments about the books I missed. What are your favorite books featuring real dads?
More suggestions from readers:
Two Old Potatoes and Me (suggested by the author himself, John Coy!)
"Two Old Potatoes and Me is the story of a girl and her father planting potatoes and I think you'd enjoy both the story and the art."
On Our Way Home - suggested by anonymous commenter
"An outstanding book about a little bear and his Daddy on a hike. No mentions of absence or anything other than special time with Dad. For a bonus, Daddy tucks the little bear in at the end."
Some Dogs Do - suggested by JustineR
"'Some Dogs Do' is about a little dog who has a bad day, and his father is the comforting one. Mother dog doesn't even have a speaking role."