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Books for All Ages That Celebrate Dads 

Published June 1, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

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One of my earliest memories is of snuggling up in my father's arms as he read to me and my sister before bedtime. His enthusiasm for books made me feel like we were the first children to discover Templeton the rat in Charlotte's Web. I learned to love reading because he loved reading.

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Our favorite book was Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World. This middle-grade tale tells the story of a father and son who live in a wagon caravan. The father repairs cars for a living. If you haven't read it yet, I won't spoil the story, but the novel does include a baby carriage of sleeping pheasants.

For Father's Day, here are a few reading suggestions featuring fathers who, in different ways, shape their children's lives.

Picture Books

A Different Pond, by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui

This 2018 Caldecott Honor Book features a father-and-son duo who fish for the family's food in a small pond in Minneapolis before the workday begins. In these early hours, the father tells his son about fishing in their homeland of Vietnam.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

This is a sweetly poetic story of a young girl and her father who take a walk on a winter's night. The father whistles for owls perched in the trees. Schoenherr's beautiful illustrations and the story's rich sensory details make this a gentle bedtime read.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, written and illustrated by Mo Willems

This one ranks as one of my family's most favorite read-aloud books. It tells the story of young Trixie and her father's trip to the local laundromat. Comedy ensues when Trixie's beloved stuffed rabbit goes missing. Two more Knuffle Bunny books complete the series.

Middle Grade

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The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

This Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner features twin brothers who love basketball and their father — a former professional baller. The high-energy story explores the complexities of family and first relationships.

A Crooked Kind of Perfect, by Linda Urban

This 2009 novel stars 10-year-old Zoe Elias. While her workaholic mother shoulders the economic burden of the family, her stay-at-home father struggles with his own challenges. Her father may not be the storybook-perfect parent, but his relationship with Zoe runs deep.

Young Adult

The First Part Last, by Angela Johnson

Author Johnson has won three Coretta Scott King Book Awards, including one for this novel featuring 16-year-old Bobby, who learns his girlfriend is pregnant. This book sheds light on the male perspective on teen pregnancy as Bobby faces difficult choices.

Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo

National Book Award winner Acevedo's novel-in-verse is about two sisters who are brought together by their father's unexpected death. When the girls meet in the Dominican Republic to bury him, they are forced to confront their mysterious past. The book tackles difficult subjects, including the socioeconomic disparities between the two girls.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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