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With Father’s Day just around the corner and the days getting longer, reading to our children at bedtime is one of the best ways to wind down after a busy summer day. The time a parent spends reading with his child is one of the most consistent links to that child achieving positive literacy scores throughout his or her schooling. It’s a period that not only helps children academically but strengthens the bond you have with them and creates memories to last a lifetime. Children will always remember bedtime stories and the lessons that these stories bring.

These books are perfect to foster the bond between dads and children on Father’s Day.

Preschool and Kindergarten

My Cat Looks Like My Dad Written and Illustrated by Thao Lam: Bright paper-collage illustrations create comparisons in which the narrator talks about their family—especially the striking similarities between Dad and the cat. Both have orange hair, love milk, start their days with stretches, appreciate a good nap, and are brave (some of the time). A surprising twist at the end reveals the narrator’s unexpected identity, also hinted at with clues in the art throughout the book. Warmth and whimsy in the illustrations add a playful balance to the story’s deeper message about the love that makes a family a unit, no matter how unusual it may look from the outside.

Hike by Pete Oswald: This beautifully illustrated picture book highlights the joy that can be found in spending time with family and nature. A father wakes his son one morning and they pack up and head out of the city for the day. As they make their way up the trail, they stop to enjoy the beauty around them including the wildlife and the snow. The father helps his son cross a log bridge and admire a waterfall. Ultimately, at the end of the trail, they plant a tree seedling before making their way back down. Words aren’t needed in this homage to the power of taking time to enjoy the natural world. On top of that is the importance of the father/son bond exhibited as the father and son spend the day together, helping each other as needed.

You and Me, Me and You by Miguel Tanco: A father and son walk together, discuss life among a busy city, play, and spend time with each other in this book that honors the special bond between a father and his son. The story illustrates how dads can be present and are always there for their sons. It not only makes a great Father’s Day present, but it can be read over and over again.

First and Second Grade

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko, Illustrated by Dan Santat: A boy keeps a toy dinosaur in his pocket to help him be brave like his dad, but when the dinosaur goes missing, dad knows just what to do. This story warms hearts and teaches kids how to be brave and face their fears. Choldenko reminds us all of the awesomeness of dads to come through, and Santat brings both the fear and bravery that this book underlines to life.

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison: A little girl has her daddy help her find the perfect hairstyle that will show off her beautiful, natural self. It’s a special occasion, so she wants to look her best. Tender and empowering, this book is an ode to loving your natural hair—and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.

Third and Fourth Grade

Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary, Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers: Romona’s father has just lost his job and things are tense in the Quimby house. Romona decides to help as much as she can, even by reducing her Christmas wish list. But the bills are piling up, and Romona wonders if life will ever go back to normal. An excellent choice to share during homeschooling.

Dog Diaries Book: A Middle School Story by James Patterson, Illustrated by Richard Watson: A story told from the perspective of Junior the dog, this book tells the story of how Junior was adopted from the pound and came to meet his new pet human, Rafe. Rafe and Junior are immediately best friends, and the two of them find themselves in a big predicament after a little, teensy mishap at the dog park. It is up to the two of them to prove they aren’t the mess everyone thinks they are by winning the local dog show. The only problem is…they have both miserably failed their obedience school class. A fun read for both dads and kids, this book is full of humor and illustrations.