Book Shopping for Dads? Consider these Father- and Kid-Tested Titles

Like many children’s writers and illustrators, our Delaware critique group often debates what, oh what, will most appeal to boys, girls, and the men who read to them.

For Father’s Day, we decided to ask our local experts – the dads and kids we know – about their favorite reads.   Below are some of the answers we heard.  We hope you’ll be inspired to give or read a few of these titles – and that you’ll post your own tried-and-true selections.


My friend Abigail’s 3-and-a-bit-year-old son Leo likes reading ALL books about TRUCKS with his dad Doug. The Little Blue Truck books by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry are current picks. Leo also loves some of Doug’s childhood favorites, such as Where the Wild Things Are, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and Wacky Wednesday.

What’s in a name?
I Am a Bunny, the story of Nicholas the bunny is a favorite bedtime read for Nicholas the nearly-4-year-old nephew and his dad, Conrad.  In fact, Missy, Nick’s mom, recently noticed Nick “reading” some of the book to his dad.

Other favorite books Nick and Conrad share are

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner

Twenty years earlier, my kids/Nick’s cousins, Sam and Tom rated Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book at No. 1.  And a generation before that, their dad put Winnie the Pooh first among his childhood books.

– Sue Peters

Reading Phanatics

Kristin, another friend, says, “Cris enjoys reading car and sports books to the boys – and the boys had many choices for books they like to read with their daddy! We have a bunch of Phillie Phanatic books (mentioned below) and Cars movie books that are favorites! Matthew said that he likes when Daddy reads the wrong words/changes words on purpose to make him laugh (and to make sure he is paying attention).


Justin’s (age 4) picks are:

The Phillie Phanatic’s Happiest Memories (Tom Burgoyne)

The Phillie Phanatic’s Moving Day (Tom Burgoyne)

Hello, Phillie Phanatic! (Aimee Aryal)

Big Dog… Little Dog (P. D. Eastman)

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (Virginia Lee Burton)

If You Give a Moose a Muffin (or any from that series) Laura Joffe Numeroff

Disney Cars Movie—A Day at the Races/Night Vision (double book)


Matthew’s (age 7) picks are:

Fly Guy series (Tedd Arnold) (Matthew likes to read these to dad!)

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Judy Blume)

Dumb Bunnies series (Dav Pilkey)

Wayside School series (Louis Sacher)

Shark vs. Train (Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld)

Disney Cars Movie—Heavy Metal Mater and Other Tall Tales


My pick is:

Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go


An Illustrator’s Best Books

The Red Badge of Courage, Lord of the Flies, and Aesop’s Fables top Ken Shepherd’s list.


From Hop on Pop to Moby Dick—Superfudge to the Stars!

My husband, Russ, enjoyed reading anything by Dr. Seuss to our children. Since I asked him to pick a favorite, he says it would have to be Hop on Pop. A big hit when our children were toddlers, Dr. Seuss’s zany Hop on Pop even inspired Dan—four years old at the time—to call his father “Pop” for a number of years.

As a child, my husband says he loved reading the Curious George books and anything he could find about dinosaurs. As a teen, he says The Lord of the Rings ruled. Russ has since graduated to more challenging reading, including books on astronomy, politics, and history. He recently finished Moby Dick, a book he enthusiastically recommends to anyone dying to learn “every tiny detail about nineteenth-century whaling.”

My 30-something son, Dan, says two of his childhood favorites were Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge by Judy Blume. When he hit eight years old, he discovered Star Wars novels and the world of science fiction, and he never looked back. For teens, he recommends Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Outside the sci-fi realm, he said he considers Huckleberry Finn one of his all-time favorites.

–       Loretta Carlson

Daddy-Daughter Time

My brother-in-law enjoys the classics with my six-year-old niece – Winnie the Pooh and anything by Dr. Seuss, especially Green Eggs and Ham. A Butterfly is Patient, by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long, is also a favorite.

–      Carolyn Griffith


A Shameless Plug for a Delaware Dad

Who knew we had an author of a book for dads in our midst!  Our own  John Micklos, Jr., lists his book Daddy Poems (Boyds Mills Press, 2000) and Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer as a couple of his favorite dad books.


Sharing a Book – For Four Generations

My husband, Joe, may not remember the titles of the books his parents read to him, but he remembers that his mother read to him often—and taught him to read. He also remembers his father singing to him and teaching him the words to songs–a shared father and son experience.

Joe said that he liked to read science fiction and adventure stories while growing up. He also enjoyed Boy’s Life magazine. His most memorable reads—Call of the Wild by Jack London, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Joe enjoyed reading to our children. Some of their favorites included – Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town, Are You My Mother? by  P. D. Eastman, The Cat Who Stamped His Feet and This Room is Mine by Betty Ren Wright, Never Talk to Strangers by Irma Joyce, I’m My Daddy I’m My Mommy by Daniel Wilcox, and Miss Nelson is Missing by James Marshall. They also loved the Frog and Toad books written by Arnold Lobel, the Me and My Sister Clara books written by Dimiter Inkiow, the Frances books by Russell Hoban, and the Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish.

Our twin granddaughters stayed with us during the day their first two years while their parents worked. Grandpa would often come home for lunch to read and visit with them. As infants their absolute favorite book was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr./Eric Carle. They also enjoyed Each Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, Animal Crackers by Jane Dyer, Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.

They loved many Dr. Seuss books – as did their little brother Bryan when he came along. Some of his favorite books included Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, the Clifford books, and Busy, Busy Town—just like his Dad!

The twins, now nine years old and avid readers, told me last evening that they remember their father, our son, Bryan, reading them the Junie B. Jones books (by Barbara Parker) and enjoying them as much as they did!

We seem to have a family of addicted readers! Our son-in-law, Bob, said he most recently read our youngest granddaughter, Carol, age 5, the Mouse and the Motorcycle and Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary.  Some of her early favorites included the Maisy Books by Lucy Cousins, and Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner. She told me this morning that she likes the I Witness books.

Many of our children’s favorite books became our grandchildren’s favorite books as well… and the tradition continues!

Happy Father’s day to all the fathers and grandfathers out there – and happy reading!

–   Carol Larese Millward

About ediehemingway

I am an author of children's middle grade novels and the Regional Advisor for the MD/DE/WV SCBWI chapter.
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2 Responses to Book Shopping for Dads? Consider these Father- and Kid-Tested Titles

  1. Pingback: May Woo-HOO’s! « As the Eraser Burns

  2. akismet-5abab8018d85b510392f3dfd8c241ea4 says:

    My grandfather was a marvelous reader, and as a child I remember in particular his renditions of “Peter Rabbit” and “Just-So Stories.” I think he loved the words and the sound of the words, and it was a delight to listend to his voice. My father may have read stories to us, but I don’t remember any particular story. What I remember are the “Smitty Kitty” stories he devised, stories that always seemed to end with a rendition of the song “White Coral Bells”. He was a labor arbitrator and traveled a lot, and when he was a way we would beg our mother to continue with Smitty Kitty and then complain endlessly because her stories were unsatisfactory. Children can be so brutal.

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