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Sweet Picture Books That Celebrate Fatherhood
by Liz Lesnick
Liz has loved to read ever since she finished Green Eggs and Ham all by herself. When she doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, Liz works as a social media manager at Penguin Random House sharing her passion for books and language with the Twitterverse and beyond. She lives in New York City with her husband and tween daughter in a cozy, book-filled apartment.
I don’t know about you, but finding the right present for the dads in my life has always been a challenge. In the age of business casual, I can’t possibly give that old go-to gift, the tie. What I can always count on to be a thoughtful, personal gift is a great book.
This year I have picture books on my mind because my brother-in-law will be celebrating his very first Father’s Day. I can’t wait to see pictures of him curled up with my niece reading one of these soon-to-be classics.
by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
In this celebration of a father’s love, Zuri and her dad work together to style her gorgeous, natural, curly hair when Zuri’s mom is away. Zuri’s dad shows the power of the bond between dads and daughters.
by Eric Carle
Dads will devour this board book gem featuring Eric Carle’s beloved caterpillar and an adorable cast of furry and feathered friends sharing all of the reasons they love their dads.
by Hannah Holt, illustrated by Yee Von Chan
From a penguin papa snuggling with his baby in the cold, white snow to a seahorse father hatching his young in the deep blue ocean, this adorable picture book shows that a father's love comes in all forms. Sweet and simple rhymes combine with beautiful artwork to create a memorable bedtime lullaby for dads and kids to enjoy together.
by Heidi Woodward Sheffield
Luis looks up to his father, who works as a bricklayer and builds up their city brick by brick. At school, where Luis also works hard and dreams of the future, he compares all the ways that he and Papi are similar. The mixed-media artwork and Spanish phrases add vibrancy to a sweet father-son story.
by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Dan Santat
Unlike his dad, who seems to have no fears at all, Nicholas has a long list of things that scare him — but with his stuffed dinosaur by his side, those fears disappear. When his dino goes missing, Nicholas’s dad teaches him that everyone gets scared sometimes, and you can always ask for help.
by Luciana Navarro Powell
Through vivid illustrations and snappy rhymes, Luciana Navarro Powell captures the fun of horsing around with your dad. (Note to Dads: You may want to stretch out before reading this board book with your toddlers. They’ll probably want to try some of the moves in the book.)
by Isabel Otter, illustrated by Alicia Mas
A lovely gift book for new and longtime dads alike, I Love Daddy Every Day captures the year-round joys and celebrations of fatherhood, through vignettes and diverse snapshots of daddy-child pairings.
by Dr. Seuss
This Seussian celebration of dads, grandpas, and father figures is a sweet addition to the home library. With original illustrations from beloved titles including Hop on Pop and Horton Hatches the Egg, dads and kids will have a new storytime favorite.
by Matt Phelan
I love this father-daughter story that kicks off with young Penelope bored on a rainy day. When her dad asks the inciting question — “What would you do if you had your druthers?” — the adventures ensue, from the two wrangling cattle to blasting off to the moon. In the background, the house gets messier and messier (we can all commiserate with you, Dad!), but their day together gets even more fun.
by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña
Daisy Ramona loves riding through her neighborhood on the back of her Papi’s motorcycle. From there, she has a perfect view of the people and places that make her community so special and memories of her father’s love that will last a lifetime.
by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Ruth Hearson
Leo Can Swim is the perfect gift from the littlest swimmers to their dads. Readers follow Leo and his dad as they get ready for swim class, from putting on swim diapers and getting in the pool, to drying off and having a snack. With its gentle tone and sweet pictures, this small read will soothe the fears of anxious beginning swimmers (and their dads!).
by Beatrix Potter
You can never go wrong with a Peter Rabbit book for any occasion (or no occasion at all!). In this elegantly illustrated picture book, Peter expresses his affection for his father, wrapping up on a heartwarming note: "Remember, Daddy, I love you, too.”
This unique collection of daddy-themed Little Golden Books is a loving tribute to fathers. Ideal for sharing with young readers, they're also nostalgic for those parents who remember them fondly from their own childhoods.
by Keith Negley
A total hit for new dads, this one follows a son in awe of his dad'd pre-fatherhood days, full of live shows, tattoos, and motorcycle rides. Striking the perfect balance between humorous and emotional (Negley's niche, writes The New York Times, is expanding our ideas of masculinity), My Dad Used to Be Cool is sure to become a household favorite.
by Rebecca Van Slyke, illustrated by Priscilla Burris
A little boy wonders how dads know how to do so many amazing things like fix a leaky faucet, make mega-sandwiches, or simultaneously pay bills and play Go Fish. He imagines they must go to school just like he does. Kids and dads alike will love the vivid images that show the myriad skills that dads must master to do their jobs.
by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish
Want to surprise dad for Father’s Day, but not sure how? This book has everything you need to know from recipes for yummy treats to what to do if dad starts getting suspicious. Just remember to hide it until June 17 — you don’t want to spoil the surprise!
by Jacky Davis, illustrated by David Soman
Lulu (a.k.a. Ladybug Girl) can’t wait to go to the natural history museum with her grandfather. She wants to see EVERYTHING! Lucky for Lulu, Grandpa is a patient and energetic guide who helps her understand that learning is a lifetime adventure.
by Mercer Mayer
Little Critter can’t wait to go camping with his dad, but even though things don’t always go exactly as planned, they have a blast. Big and little critters alike will delight in their misadventures!
Plum wants a pet, but her dad says, “No.” Persistent Plum comes up with a foolproof solution: If she can’t get a dog, she’ll make Dad her pet. Hijinks ensue as Plum discovers that while you might not be able to train him to sit or roll over, you can teach an old dad new tricks.
by Fred Koehler
Jumbo’s dad is having a bad day, so Jumbo decides to cheer him up. In this charming tale of role reversal, a little elephant comes up with lots of activities that he hopes will lift his dad’s spirits. Jumbo plays catch with him, takes him fishing, and tucks him in at night. With its sweet story and irresistible elephants, I have a hunch that How to Cheer Up Dad will become a bedtime classic in many houses.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2020.
Hey everyone! Wishing you a wonderful weekend with friends and family. Thank you so much for visiting me here day after day. Your patronage is so appreciated. Father's Day will be here soon so I hope these books will be fun to share with the dad in your home. Dads are very special and need to be celebrated. Kudos to DADS!
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