Inside: Children’s Books About Dads are the most special way to celebrate the men we adore, not just on Father’s Day but all year round. Check out these fabulous picture books to read with daddy, as well as three awesome crafts to honor dad!
Children’s books about dad’s are the best way to celebrate fatherhood!
I don’t think a day of my childhood went by without my dad telling me he was proud of me.
Even when we had rip roaring battles and stood across the kitchen table from one another, arms crossed tightly against our chests, eyes locked in a stare down as we both tried to get in just one last word, it wasn’t long before somehow or another, he would once again utter that one little phrase that always meant so much:
I’m proud of you.
Those words will forever be etched in my memory. My Dad still regularly says this to me now, a grown woman almost forty years old, and guess what? They STILL mean so much.
This is the beauty of fatherhood. To so many little ones, daddies are children’s’ heroes and idols. They symbolize courage and bravery, they wipe away tears, they learn to braid ponytails and they cheer on kids at sports games and piano recitals.
You know what we need to add to this list of things that dads do so well? Make sure dad is reading books to your kids before bed.
Calling all you fathers! Snuggle up with your kids and read children’s books about dads at bedtime!
The following children’s books about fathers showcase not only the tenderness inherent in the daddy-daughter or daddy-son relationship, but also the many ways that dads are beacons of love and heroism for their kids. Most importantly? These books are incredibly special when they are read to a child snuggled up with dad before the lights go out and it’s time to sleep.
And guess what? It has been found in a recent study that children benefit more when fathers read them bedtime stories. Why? When men read with their kids, the questions dads ask often encourage use of the imagination and spark “imaginative discussions,” thus enhancing children’s language development.
So here’s the moral of the story: get some of these amazing stories celebrating fathers, let dad read with the kids, and watch the magic happen. Sooner than later, your kids will be the one reading these books to dad, and dad will gaze at his children with love and amazement… and he may even utter those four little words that my dad always said to me:
I’m proud of you.
Enjoy, and happy reading!
Is That Your Dad?, illustrated by Carles Ballesteros: Is that your Dad, Froggy? In this fabulous little board book that makes a perfect present for dad from your littlest kids, children watch with glee as the pages change faces with every turn. So much fun! A cute refrain, vibrant pictures, and brilliant page turns make this one a winner!
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Fathers, by Hope Anita Smith: If you like poetry, you will LOVE this gorgeous book! At once tender, funny and powerful, this poetry collection is a sentimental celebration of fathers by a Coretta Scott King honor winning poet. Told from a child’s perspective, this collection celebrates the heartwarming, everyday moments that fill our lives with magic and meaning, from guitar playing to wrestling matches to snuggling together in bed. I just love it.
Papa Brings Me the World, by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw: Lulu’s Papa is an explorer! He navigates the world, and his adventures take him from mountains to oceans, from Zimbabwe to China. But Lulu’s favorite thing about Papa is when he gets home, and the stories and treasures he brings with him. We absolutely love the way this beautiful story highlights cultures from around the world, and the way it helps families celebrate and learn right in their homes. A new favorite!
Made for Me, by Zack Bush and illustrated by Gregorio De Lauretis: Oh, how this book made me cry! I’m always looking for great books to give first time parents — or second, third and fourth time parents, for that matter — and this is one that is so sweet to gift to a new dad! This tender, touching story about a father and his growing infant is so poignant, hitting all of those special moments from the first time the baby says “dada” to those first adorable, wobbly steps. Whimsical illustrations and a sweet refrain make this one a winner!
Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall: Young Jabari and his family hit the city pool, and today is the day Jabari tells dad he will jump off the high diving board. In fact, he tells his dad he is not even scared at all. Yet, when it is time to climb the ladder, Jabari let’s some of the other kids go ahead of him…. and then takes time deciding what kind of jump he wants to do…. and then gets just a little bit tired. Oh, the excuses! Will Jabari overcome his fear of the board and find his way to take the plunge? Jabari’s dad is tender and patient, encouraging Jabari where necessary but also recognizing when to allow his child to step back from a fear-inducing event and take some time to breathe. The two are a perfect pair. For our full review of Jabari Jumps, click here!
Night Job, by Karen Hesse and illustrated by G. Brian Karas: A young boy packs his dad’s lunch, and as the sun sets, the two jump on dad’s bike and head to the middle school where Dad cleans the facilities during the night. The two pal around as dad cleans. In the gym, the boy shoots baskets. In the theater, they listen to the big game. And in the library, the boy lays down on the couch and reads aloud to his father until he falls sound asleep. When they eventually return home, the sun comes up and dad snuggles into a big arm chair — and then the boy snuggles up to dad until sleep overtakes them both. I simply adore the tender, sensitive relationship in this story! For our full review of Night Job, click here!
Big Boys Cry, by Jonty Howley: Levi is heading to school, and he is awfully scared. Levi’s dad tries to comfort him by telling him that big boys don’t cry — but as soon as the words are out of his mouth, it’s clear dad regrets them. As Levi wanders to school, he sees many grown men expressing their emotions, and once he gets to school, Levi sheds a tear and feels a lot better. When he runs home at the end of the day he finds his father waiting for him, with tears in his eyes, because dad, too, was scared about Levi’s first day. Such a gentle story about the power of letting yourself be vulnerable!
Dandy, by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Charles Santoso: This is such an awesome author/illustrator combo! Dyckman’s stories never fail to delight, and Santoso is definitely one of my favorite illustrators. When you combine these two, you get a story that is as authentic as it is awesome! In Dandy, a dad tries desperately to rid his perfectly manicured lawn of an unruly dandelion — even as his determined daughter tries to save it. Dad and his friends are appalled at this weed ruining the otherwise beautiful lawn— but is dad willing to break his daughter’s heart so his lawn maintains its beauty?
My Dad Used to be So Cool, by Keith Negley: Oh, the sacrifices parents make for their children! We all experience it – the thought that we used to be so cool, but now, as parents, we’ve lost our “oomph.” This wonderful book tells the story of a day spent in the life of one father and son duo. The boy knows his dad used to be cool because he was in a band and rode a motorcycle, and though he wonders why dad gave it up, the reader understands that it’s because dad wants to be there for all of his son’s special moments. Modern, tender, and wonderful, we love this book, and we ADORE Keith Negley, who also wrote one of our favorites, Mary Wears What She Wants!
My Papi has a Motorcycle, by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Pena: This is a fabulous story set in a vibrant immigrant neighborhood. It beautifully conveys the love shared between a father and his daughter, their joyful ride on Papi’s motorcycle, and their exploration of their evolving neighborhood and community. The sweet girl so adores her hardworking father, and this is a testament to the mutual, unconditional love and adoration between father and daughter.
A Brave Bear, by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Emily Hughes: Who is the absolute best person to help a little bear feel brave? His dad, of course! I just adore this story every time I read it, about a bear who tries to impress his father but ends up getting hurt instead. Yet, the little bear doesn’t miss a beat, and he gets up and keeps on going. “I think a brave bear is probably the bravest thing in the world,” says Dad. Cue heart melting. So sweet, such a gentle read aloud, and a total gem.
Raj and the Best Day Ever, by Sebastien Braun: Raj and Dad have the best day planned. They are going on an adventure! But — uh oh! — Dad left his wallet at home. Can they still have the best day ever, even if they only have their imaginations and each other’s company to rely on? Such a cute read – an instant hit!
A Different Pond, by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui: This was a 2018 Caldecott Honor Book, one brimming with hope, tradition and authenticity. Bao tells the story of going to fish early in the morning with his father, but the fishing was for food, not fun, and they had to get home quickly so Bao’s father could subsequently rush to work. This tale of an immigrant family beautifully weaves together a father’s life in Vietnam and a son’s role as the youngest child in a family of refugees. Touching, thought provoking, and a perfect mirror and window book!
Daddy Long Legs, by Nadine Brun-Cosme and illustrated by Aurelie Guillerey: This is a fabulous French import that describes one father’s valiant efforts to assuage his son’s concerns about the challenges that might prevent his dad from picking him up at kindergarten. It melts my heart with each and every read, and I love the way this father will stop at nothing to alleviate his child’s nerves!
Papa, Do You Love Me?, by Barbara M. Joose and illustrated by Barabra LaVallee: This is a gorgeous follow up to Mama, Do you Love Me?, yet this story is set in Africa and features the Massai culture. Capturing the universal love between a father and his child, this one shows a father reassuring his child that he will always be protected from dangers and taught to survive and thrive. A beautiful window book for many of us, this one beautifully shows that a father’s love is unconditional, no matter where — or how — you live.
Stella Brings the Family, by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown: We simply adore this story about a young girl with two daddies! Stella is distraught when she learns her class will soon have a Mother’s Day celebration at school. After all, Stella has no moms, so who on earth will she bring to the party? With the help of her classmates, Stella realizes she’s got two phenomenal, loving dads and a whole crew of people who love and support her — and she might just have to celebrate with them all!
Tell me a Tattoo Story, by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler: This book is just so cool, and I love the way this author illustrator team puts a modern spin on the relationship between a father and his child. If you love family history, you will love the way this dad tells his little one about their family and all of the special memories he wanted to forever capture through his tattoos, such as the special book his mother always read to him and a favorite phrase his father always told him. Special, unique and authentic, this one is fabulous!
Mitchell’s License, by Hallie Durand and illustrated by Tony Fucile: Mitchell got his driver’s license when he was just four years, one month and five days old… and when gets behind the wheel, he has a need for speed! But sometimes, his car doesn’t operate exactly when it should — especially when dear old dad is the “vehicle.” This one never fails to elicit giggles, and we love both its tenderness and wit!
My Papa is a Princess, by Doug Cenko: I absolutely adore this sweet story about the way one little girl views her doting father. When they play cars, he is a racecar driver. When he braids her hair, he is a hairdresser. and when he hangs pictures, he is an art collector. I love seeing how reality affects the way the daughter sees her father as a larger than life, oh-so-special figure in her world. This one is just fabulous!
You and Me, Me and You, by Miguel Tanco: I love the illustrations in this whimsical book! This is a poignant story highlighting those magical, mundane moments that epitomize what it means to be a dad: from answering endless questions to taking time to smell the flowers to journeying to far off places with nothing more than a bit of imagination. This one perfectly captures how a father’s love is patient and unconditional, and whether sharing a chaotic moment, a routine moment, or a moment of relaxation, dad’s relationship with his child is supremely precious.
Dad and the Dinosaur, by Gennifer Choldenko and illustrated by Dan Santat: Nicholas wants nothing more than to be as brave as his dad. But he needs help — and with his toy dinosaur at his side, Nicholas feels brave enough to conquer the world! When his dino disappears, though, Nicholas is in for a whole new set of fears, and the world is awfully frightening once again. Luckily, Dad comes to the rescue. Dad knows that even the bravest people get scared, and sometimes, we just need to learn to ask for help when we feel spooked..
Things to Do with Dad, by Sam Zuppardi: A boy is excited to spend the day with his dad… until that dreaded to-do list appears with a whole host of chores that need doing in their house. The boy begins to watch as dad tackles the chores, and he soon realizes that if he jumps in to help, the two can go on some awesome adventures as they cross items off their list, using nothing but cleaning supplies and their hefty imaginations.
Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr: Late one night in the dead of winter, a young girl and her father set out to go owling. They barely speak on their journey through the snow, for you don’t need words to go owling. Instead, they maintain hopeful hearts and exercise patience as they wait to witness the resolute stare of a wise old owl. A poetic masterpiece and an exquisite story capturing love and tenderness as a father takes his child on one epic adventure.
Hair Love, by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison: Not only is Hair Love an ode to loving your natural characteristics – such as Zuri’s hair that kinks, coils and curls every which way — but it is also a tender story of the things a father will do for his daughter and the special love shared between them. When Daddy steps in to style sweet Zuri’s locks for a special occasion, he’s got a lot to learn. But for his girl, he will do whatever it takes to make her happy. Such a fun, sweet story!
Hammer and Nails, by Josh Bledsoe and illustrated by Jessica Warrick: Darcy cannot wait for her playdate! She and her friend are so excited to fix their hair and paint their nails and spend the day together. Dad, on the other hand, cannot wait to read the paper, mow the lawn, and do other chores around the house. But when Darcy’s friend suddenly cancels, poor Darcy is devastated until Dad suggests they tackle their to-do lists together. Will Dad play dress up? Will Darcy help mow the lawn? The two step far outside their comfort zones, and the day couldn’t go any better.
BONUS! Read Children’s Books About Dads, and make them some awesome crafts, too!
Looking for some fun and fabulous craft ideas to make for Dad? Look no further than Sunny Day Family, one of my favorite bloggers on the web. Laura created these amazing crafts, and these would make perfects gifts for fathers and grandfathers, too!
Handprint Baseball Father’s Day Gift with Printable Poem: I adore this clever gift to remember when your kids hands were small enough to wrap around a baseball! The perfect, thoughtful present to celebrate Dad!
Father’s Day Coupon Book: I loved making coupon books for my parents when I was a little girl, and I couldn’t love this adorable printable pack anymore! Your child can decide what she wants to gift daddy, then fill in and color the coupons all on her own!
Free Printable Father’s Day Survey: I love fill in the blank surveys where kids can write exactly what they love about their families, and these, celebrating dad and grandpa, are just perfect! These make great gifts for father’s day, birthday, or any other day when you just want to show dad how much your little one cares. Enjoy!