Dad’s don’t often find themselves front and center when it come to children’s books. There are many books that don’t include a parent at all, but when they do, they are typically mothers taking charge or fathers who are not actively involved. But that is not the case in real life and it isn’t always the case in literature. In honor of Father’s Day, here is a round-up of books with great dads.
For an introduction on Father’s Day itself, Ann Heinrichs put together a wealth of information in her book “Father’s Day.” This book is part of a series from The Child’s World. Considering how commercialized the day has become, it is very interesting to see where the holiday actually came from. Children can learn the interesting story of how a little girl came up with the idea to honor fathers in church in 1910. The idea spread, but did not become a national holiday until 1972.
Another non-fiction title that will easily grab the attention of young readers is “The Emperor’s Egg,” by Martin Jenkins. This beautifully done picture book depicts the interesting twist in the child birth process for emperor penguins. While the mother penguin lays the egg, it is the father’s responsibility to keep it warm for two months in the frigid arctic cold while the mom goes out to see to replenish her nutritional reserves. Fathers are the first caretakers for their young, even providing their first food until the mother returns.
Many of the books that feature fathers often feature animal fathers. In Peter Horn’s “The Best Father of All,” a young turtle tells his father how safe he feels when he is with him and in return his father explains that keeping him safe is his job. This starts an interesting conversation about what else fathers do. Each page is a journey through the animal kingdom showing how fathers support, nurture, and educate their children. A simple example of how all of the little things add up.
Another book highlighting the mundane little things that really add up is “Every Friday,” by Dan Yaccarino. Turning the pages of this book makes you feel like you have taken a step back in time, yet it was written in 2007. The story is of a little boy who loves Fridays because that is the day that he and his father stroll through the city to a corner diner to share a breakfast of pancakes. Apparently, Yaccarino started this tradition with his own son when he turned three and with this wonderful story, he encourages every family to start a little tradition of their own.
One thing that we know is true is that dads come in all shapes and sizes, but dads also come with many different temperaments. “When Dad’s Don’t Grow Up,” by Marjorie Blain Parker, pays homage to the dads out there who have never lost the kid inside themselves and who truly enjoy playing with their kids. In addition to celebrating hands on dads, it also does a great job of showing a full spectrum of dads from various races and cultures. “They may look like grown-ups on the outside, but underneath they’re just like us….KIDS!”
Not only do dads come with different temperaments, but they also have all kinds of jobs to help support their families. In “Night Shift Daddy,” by Eileen Spinelli, Daddy works the night shift, so father and daughter share a special routine around bedtime. Every night, Daddy reads to the little girl, tucks her in, makes sure that she is cozy, and turns off the light. Unbeknownst to him, she also goes to the window and watches him leave for work. When the morning sun wakes her up, Daddy is there to share breakfast with her and then she tucks him into bed in the same way. This is a very touching book and a reminder that all dads work hard, but routines and special shared moments make all the difference.
Some dads not only work hard for their family, but also for their country. The sunny story of “Hero Dad,” by Melinda Hardin, opens with the words, “My dad is a superhero.” The reader soon learns that while the boy’s dad might not be Superman with a capital S, he is an American hero – a soldier. This book wonderfully covers the way that a child might see the actions of their military fathers and what an amazing role he plays while protecting our country as well as at home protecting his own kids.
Finally, “Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers,” by Kelly Bernett, is a great tribute to blended families. In this story, a young girl compares the two fathers in her life by showing how the have different behaviors and enjoy different things. By the end, it comes back to the fact that even though Dad and Pop are very different, in one crucial way they are exactly the same – the both love her unconditionally.
No matter what special father you want to celebrate this year and every day, there are a wealth of great books out there that highlight the relationship between parent and child.