Reading a book 200 times is a surefire way to find out whether you love it or want to throw its rhyming llama couplets into the diaper pail. Children's books especially do a tricky dance for an audience of squinty-eyed parents and wide-eyed tots: the best ones, like a syringe of infant-suspension Tylenol, have a little something for the parent at the end. These are the ones we are celebrating in This Book Belongs To — the books that send us back to the days of our own footed pajamas, and make us feel only half-exhausted when our tiny overlords ask to read them one more time.
It is time to reflect on, nay to honor, the work that dad voices across the world perform bringing to life picture book characters at bedtime. I am here for dads reading all the voices in The Gruffalo, raising a rumpus in Where The Wild Things Are, and reciting every exhausting Dr. Seuss book.
They put in the hard yards, night after night, so it's about time we put together a bunch of children's books for Father's Day that will delight the dad figures in your kid's life. There's a certain magic to a father-child relationship, and these books nail it. From long walks to snuggles, from terrible dad jokes to missing grandparents who are no longer here, these books will hit fathers and grandfathers in the feels.
1. 'Ocean Meets Sky' by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
This is just a flat-out gorgeous book from the Fan brothers, who previously gave us The Night Gardener. A little boy goes on a great sailing adventure in his dreams as a way to honor his grandfather, who is now gone. His grandfather taught him to love the ocean and sailing and to see the world in a beautiful way.
2. 'The Big Bed' by Bunmi Laditan, illustrated by Tom Knight
This book is almost too relatable. A kid needs to have a talk with her dad. It's time for him to consider sleeping in another bed, because the bed's getting a little crowded now that the kid is growing. Honestly, any dad that's ever been displaced in bed by his littles will probably laugh until he cries. (Or cry until he laughs?)
3. 'Ask Me' by Bernard Waber, illustrated by Suzy Lee
4. 'Tell Me A Tattoo Story' by Alison McGhee, Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
5. 'Be Glad Your Dad...(Is Not An Octopus)' by Matthew Logelin and Sara Jensen, illustrated by Jared Chapman
Phewf! Let's face it, sometimes kids wish they had a different dad (like when he's gross or grouchy or whatever) but this book imagines what it would be like with different animals for a dad. ~Hilarity~ ensues.
6. 'Saturday Is Dadurday' by Robin Pulver, illustrated by R.W. Alley
7. 'Muskrat Will Be Swimming' by Cheryl Savageau, illustrated by Robert Hynes
8. 'Daddy Cuddles' by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben
9. 'Dad By My Side' by Soosh
The images of this larger-than-life dad and his sweet, brave little girl are so lovely. But the best part is that this dad is sensitive and gentle, an awesome juxtopisition to his huge size. I want to frame every single one of these illustrations because they are just so lovely.
10. 'Because I'm Your Dad' by Ahmet Zappa, illustrated by Dan Santat
Dads do all sorts of things for their kids This story celebrates the dads that are really there for the kids in their lives. The sweet ending reveals that this dad learned all of his tricks from his dad, so it celebrates grandfathers as well as dads.