Friday, June 13, 2014

Great Books About Great Dads

This weekend is a great time for Fauquier County dads and kids to visit the library: not only do we have our summer reading program kickoff with Mad Science of DC, but we also have many terrific books featuring fathers and grandfathers. I dislike books in which the father is portrayed as a large child or a bumbling idiot, so be assured that these books have positive portrayals of fathers!

When I am asked to recommend books for soon-to-be big brothers and sisters, I always hope that A Baby for Grace is available. Like many young children, Grace wants to "help" with everything, which inevitably leads to near misses and gentle corrections.  One too many corrections sends Grace into the backyard with tears, until Dad saves the day (and goes on a special outing with Grace). Lovely endearing illustrations and a sweet yet realistic story line makes this a great read aloud for toddlers and preschoolers.

Building With Dad  is not only a fine father-son story, but it's also a must-read for construction-obsessed youngsters.  A little boy observes his father working at a construction site that will be the site of his new school.  The rhyme scheme is not forced, and the illustrations are large and realistic.  A great inclusion for a Father's Day or construction story time!

I know I recently reviewed The Favorite Daughter, but I love it so much that I couldn't leave it out of a Father's Day post!  Here's my review from April 25:

Allen Say draws upon his Japanese heritage for his memorable picture books; although I would be hard pressed to name my favorite Say title (I love them all), The Favorite Daughter would definitely be at the top of the list.  As you can see on the cover, the young girl on the cover obviously has Japanese-American facial features, but her hair is blond.  This causes her some confusion, as her classmates tell her that Japanese people only have black hair. Combine that with her wish to change her name to Michelle from Yuriko, which causes some teasing and mispronunciations, and you have a young girl struggling with her identity.  Her patient father works with her on her discomfort with her biracial heritage, with the result that she eventually learns to accept and celebrate both heritages. Say obviously based this on his own daughter's experiences, as her photographs (as a child and as a young adult visiting Japan for the first time ) appear at the beginning and the end of the story.  It's a beautiful and authentic look at a child learning to accept her special heritage.

I very briefly reviewed Fortunately, The Milk last November:
Thank you very much, Neil Gaiman, for writing a funny and science fiction (ish) story that's not 400+ pages long. During an errand to purchase milk for his children's cereal, a father is captured by aliens and goes on many crazy escapades.  The story is told through a conversation between dad and his children. This would be a great read aloud!

Owl Moon is one of my favorite Caldecott Medalists (1988).  Although a simple story (a father and daughter go owling--looking for owls), it is rich in fine illustrations and sublime text.  This is a perfect read aloud for elementary school students; unique and unforgettable.

A Father's Day book list would be incomplete without Ramona and Her Father (1978 Newbery Honor).  The upheaval and uncertainty caused by Mr. Quimby's unemployment is handled sensitively and even humorously.  (Although not marketed as a Christmas book, I always include this in our Christmas book displays; after all, it begins with Ramona making her wish list in September and ends with the Nativity pageant in December!)

I reviewed Surfer Chick last June:
Based on the reviews I read before ordering Surfer Chick, I had a feeling that I would enjoy the book.  I wasn't expecting to LOVE it, but I do!  I'm in charge of the toddler story times, so I'm always looking for new awesome stories to read to my group.  Surfer Chick might be a teensy bit too long for the group, but I'm betting that the irresistible illustrations and endearing father-daughter story line will win them over.  Surfer Chick wants to learn how to surf; luckily, her dad is a real champ.  Surfing is tricky to learn, but Surfer Chick eventually rules the surf with her hot pink board.  This is super cute, fun, and original--how many picture books can you think of that are about surfing? (I can't think of any off hand!)

What Daddies Do Best is actually two books in one; when you finish What Daddies Do Best, you can flip it over and reread the story, but with mothers starring in the lead role.  Daddies do all sorts of things--from teaching you how to ride a bike to taking you trick or treating--but most of all, they give lots and lots of love. Awww.  This is a staple in my toddler story time for Father's Day.

Where's Lenny?  is an absolutely adorable story about a young boy and his father playing hide and seek. It was a highlight of our story time programs this week!

Looking for summer time fun with dad, or the entire family? Check out our summer reading program! There's even a special reading program that dads (and other adults) can join.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

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