Fathers are the bearers of great wisdom; they teach us how to throw the perfect pitch, how to torment and stick up for our siblings in equal parts, and perhaps most importantly, that “ketchup is for french fries and hamburgers. Never hot dogs.” For a little help in passing along these vital life lessons, here are nine picture books that highlight the special relationship we have with our daddies. Happy Father’s Day!
1. The 10 Best Things About My Dad, by Christine Loomis
As Loomis’ narrator rattles off the things he loves best about his father, encourage your child to make his own list of Dad’s most endearing qualities””it’ll make for an adorable Father’s Day present!
2. The Night Before Father’s Day, by Natasha Wing
Mimicking the rhyme scheme from “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this Colorado-based author constructs a story around all the tasks two children and their mother must complete in order to prepare the perfect Father’s Day surprise. It’s also a good story to read with Mom, who might be feeling a little neglected at this time of year.
3. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s graphic novel is technically meant for children 5 and up, yet his witty observations certainly appeal to the young-at-heart as well. Best of all, the absurdity of swapping a person for goldfish should inspire a hearty conversation on childhood fantasies””and the dire efforts needed to achieve them””that lasts well past bedtime.
4. Because I’m Your Dad, by Ahmet Zappa
Frank Zappa’s son turns this phrase of exasperated parents everywhere into an excuse for indulgence. Example: “Because I’m your dad, you can have spaghetti for breakfast, French toast for dinner, and rocky road ice cream in the bathtub.” If only!
5. Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too, by Anna Dewdney
A follow-up to the popular Llama, Llama books, this one focuses on Nelly’s relationship with her father as they work on a special project together. It’s ideal for the younger age group, around 3-5 years old, and is a refreshingly modern take on the daddy-daughter bond.
6. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
This beautifully-illustrated book based on the controversial true love story of two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo explores the remarkable lengths fathers will go to for their children, and is a wonderful tribute to family””in all its forms.
7. Daddy, Papa, and Me, by Leslea Newman
A child spends the day running through a host of activities with his parents””who just happen to be two fathers””in this board book for the toddler set. There’s no special fanfare for their non-traditional family situation, so it also works for stepfathers or other homes with multiple parental figures.
8. Papa, Do You Love Me?, by Barbara M. Joosse
Drawing on Africa’s Maasai culture, Joosse reminds us that fathers are the same across the world: they protect us from danger, teach us about the land, and most of all, love us unconditionally. The author has also written a companion book, Mama, Do You Love me?, for mothers.
9. What Dads Can’t Do, by Douglas Wood
The title is a little misleading, but this is a sweet story about how lost fathers would be without their children. Dads, for instance, can’t even read a book by themselves; they need their kids to read with them! It’s especially appropriate for single parents and, as one reviewer put it, is “just the right blend of sassiness and sentiment.”
For more book recommendations, check out our post on 7 Children’s Books that Effectively Tackle Divorce Woes.