Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wanted: Children's Stories With Dads as Central Characters

After reading a recent blog from Daddy Dialectic about most loved children's stories, I am inspired to look into this subject in a deeper way as to how it relates to the depiction of dads. I feel that, just like the way our mass media treats dads, the stories that we read to our kids have an equally strong impact. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with great classic children's stories that are mom-centric. Some of my boys' and my favorites are focused around great moms (The Runaway Bunny, anyone?)

However, there just aren't that many good children's books out there that emphasize the role of dad. After considering the dozens of books I've read to my boys (and we do so religiously every morning) I can only think of a scant few that have strong fatherhood figures in them.

The most impressive children's lit depiction of an 'evolved' dad to date is Mo Willems' "Knuffle Bunny" books. Without making a big deal about the father in these two books, Willems paints a really great picture of an involved dad who shares the care of his daughter with his wife. The book doesn't spell out whether he's an at-home dad or not (and not that it necessarily should, either! However, do observe what he's wearing when he takes his daughter to school.) What's great about the books is that the way the father is depicted is so matter of fact. That's really the bottom line about being an involved father for me. It's not like we should be standing out as being exceptional or different, but rather, it's our job as a parent and it's normal.

The second series of books that comes to my mind are the 'Little Bear' books by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth. These books were written in the early Nineties and are terrific for the love and care they exude between the father and son bear.

And then my mind seems to go somewhat blank on what other really good father-centric children's books are out there. I'd be interested in compiling a list of dad-related books as a resource for the Evo Dad site and would love to know what other books are out there. So, if you have some that come to your mind, please write in and share. It'd great to learn other titles and, frankly, I'd love to read them to my kids. Many thanks in advance.


Kim said...

Hi Dana,

Thanks for starting a list! I look forward to learning about more stories that feature fathers and male caregivers. Our one-year-old son's primary caregivers are all male. My husband is a stay at home dad; our son goes to hang out with grandpa when my husband is in class.

Two books that we enjoy reading:

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Natasha's Daddy by Constance Allen

Both stories depict fathers in a positive, nurturing role.

JustJane said...

Hi-- I randomly came across your blog, sorry to leave an anonymous post, but this is a sweet subject. :) As your kids get older, I'd recommend Roald Dahl's "Danny, Champion of the World" (a very sweet book), "Ramona and her Father" by Beverly Cleary, "The Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Patterson (not about a father at first glance, but the portrait of the boy's dad is incredibly touching), and it might be out of print, but my favorite book from childhood for younger kids is about a single father (I think)-- "Gorilla" by Anthony Brown. Happy reading, from a children's book lover. :) -Jane

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

Howdy. I just posted fathers are rare in children's booksmy Father's Day list of children's books that depict fathers as co-parents and caregivers.

Todd said...

I recommend the board book "Daddy Kisses"

There's also a companion volume called "Mommy Hugs"

This is a great early book for dads to read to their children.