With Monty now sleeping more civilised hours (goodbye 4.30am starts, please don’t come back), we have managed to have a few blissful family weekend lie-ins – the four of us tucked up in our bed chatting and reading a few great picture books together before getting up for some breakfast. If we manage a lie-in with a few books on Father’s Day morning, I’ll be a happy dad. Here are some of my top picks for Father’s Day books, to set the tone for the day.
My Dad Used to Be So Cool – Keith Negley
When what you see is Dad vacuuming, doing the laundry and tying your shoelaces, it’s hard to imagine that Dad used to be in a rock band and used to ride a motorbike. It’s hard to imagine Dad used to be cool. So, what made him stop? Something must have happened for him to give it all up! It turns out dad may still be a tiny bit cool and having lots of fun anyway.
My Dad Used to Be Cool is my pick for Father’s Day this year. It has a depth to it not often found in ‘About my dad’ books. The illustrations are spectacular and clever. From one page to the next, Negley keeps Dad’s stance but transforms the setting – from current-day-Dad stooped over the washing basket to cool-in-the-past dad hunched over his guitar. The story line combined with the unique illustration-style is really something else.
Bluey: My Dad is Awesome by Bluey and Bingo
Here Bluey and Bingo share some great stories about their dad. (Although share, might be the wrong choice of word here since they are jostling for the chance to share their own story about Dad throughout this book…) In any case, Bluey and Bingo tell us all about all the adventures they get up to with Dad, his likes and dislikes, strengths and (few, minor) shortcomings. Somehow, they manage to cover off the highlights of just about every Bluey episode ever made. Like every Bluey episode, this book is fun, down-to-earth and uplifting. Definitely one for the Bluey fan families out there.
My Dad is… – Ed Allen and James Hart
The Dad rhinoceros in this story is a great many things – chef and storyteller, as well as loudest farter and worst snorer – but above all he’s a great base friend.
My Dad is… is a funny and quick read to share with your own little rhinoceroses. Best of all it comes with a handy-dandy spinner built into the front cover for see just what kind of dad your dad is.
You can find My Dad Is… here.
My Dad Thinks He’s Funny – Katerina Germein
This is a great book for me… because I tend to think I’m funny. My Dad Thinks He’s Funny is basically just a celebration of the infamous dad joke, and you can almost hear the eye-roll from the child-narrator on each page. In fact, on one page the eye-roll is illustrated in a detailed diagram. Naturally, many of the jokes covered in this book are part of my day-to-day vocabulary, so my 4-year-old was able to empathise with the poor kid in the book. Importantly (for me), My Dad Thinks He’s Funny introduced me to some new jokes. So now I really will be funny! Just remember, the key to a good dad joke is that it becomes funnier the more often it is said.
Searching for Cicadas – Lesley Gibbes and Judy Watson
Searching for Cicadas is a clever book that serves the dual purpose of telling a sweet story of adventure, while simultaneously informing the reader all about cicadas. The illustrations are wonderful and really help young readers to understand the stages of a cicada’s life.
The relationship between grandchild and grandpa is sweet and the book is a celebration of the enjoyment that can be discovered in the simple things in life. Searching for Cicadas taught me a thing or two about these most interesting creatures too!
Just Because – Mac Barnett and Isabelle Arsenault
It can be challenging to answer the myriad of questions that inadvertently arise with great urgency at bedtime. Just when you think you can get to finishing up all that you need to do for the evening and put your feet up for a few minutes before going to bed, up pop the questions. But you take a deep breath, push aside the thought of the precious minutes ticking away and do your best to answer the questions using a tone that does not belie your annoyance but, equally, is not overly enthusiastic as to prompt follow up questions.
Just Because is not about that, exactly. Rather, when the young girl in this story asks a stack of questions at bedtime: “Why is the ocean blue? What is the rain? What happened to the dinosaurs?”, her father patiently gives fantastical made-up responses that take you on a journey. (Way to put me to shame.) The illustration really capture both the loving relationship between father and daughter as well as the made-up world the dad describes. The power of imagination and the magic of relationship shine powerfully thought this wonderful story.
I Want My Dad! – Tony Ross
The King is tallest of all the dads… except for when the other dads stand up. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that The King isn’t much good at anything, and that makes Little Princess begin to feel a little jealous. Other dads can teach their children how to ride a pony or swim or bake. The king isn’t much good at any of those things.
Frustrated, Little Princess vents to the Maid, who eagerly declares that she can teach Little Princess everything. Except she can’t. Little Princess isn’t much good at anything. I wonder what The King will say when he finds out…
Nights With Dad – Karen Hesse and G. Brian Karas
Nights With Dad is a sweet reminder that who we are to our children is more important that what we are to the rest of the world. Dad is a cleaner at a high school and has to take his son with him. While dad works, his boy plays, he helps, he reads. Dad and son share a packed lunch of egg sandwiches. Finally, the young boy falls asleep on a comfy chair in the school library, while dad continues his work.
While obviously not the most ideal of circumstances, one thing is apparent throughout – as long as he is with dad, the boy is happy.
Hero Dads – Illustrated by Michael Weldon
Okay, so this one is not actually a children’s book, if you want to get all technical about it. It is however a nice book to share with your kids on Father’s Day. Hero Dads celebrates 30 everyday dads, each worthy of their very own two-page spread. They include Svante Thunberg (Greta Thunberg’s dad), Eddie Mabo and Adam Liaw (whom is responsible for many delicious dishes served up in this household). Hero Dad’s is a series of nice quick glimpses into the lives of other dads and it left me with a sense of all the ways in which we are different but the same.