The best picture books about fathers

Janet Sumner Johnson Author Of Help Wanted, Must Love Books
By Janet Sumner Johnson

Who am I?

As a picture book author and mom, I am constantly inspired by the world around me. I love watching my children, and I love how they adore their dad and he adores them in return. So many of my stories have been inspired by their interactions. While I am no expert on fatherhood, I have been fortunate to have had a loving dad who played “Monster in the Middle,” who took us for rides on his motorcycle, and reminded us that we could accomplish anything we put our mind to. I love books that remind us of the power of a loving father-child relationship and hope you, too, will be lifted by these joyful stories.

I wrote...

Help Wanted, Must Love Books

By Janet Sumner Johnson, Courtney Dawson (illustrator),

Book cover of Help Wanted, Must Love Books

What is my book about?

Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can't stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team.

Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

The books I picked & why

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Bedtime Daddy!

By Sharon Giltrow, Katrin Dreiling (illustrator),

Book cover of Bedtime Daddy!

Why this book?

Bedtime, Daddy! is a role reversal book where baby bear puts daddy bear to bed. This book had me giggling the whole way through because I was there for it all. Daddy needing to use the bathroom one last time. Needing a drink of water. Asking ALL the silly questions. Kids and parents alike can relate. But what shines through is the love between daddy and kid. Just adorable all around!

Hair Love

By Matthew A. Cherry, Vashti Harrison,

Book cover of Hair Love

Why this book?

Hair Love highlights the dilemma of a little girl needing to do her hair when only Dad is home. This beautiful story reminds us that while a Mom and Dad each bring their own skillset when it comes to caring for their kids, both love their children and always do their best to help. We don’t see stories about dads and daughters often enough, and this one is just heart-warming.

My Papi Has a Motorcycle

By Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña (illustrator),

Book cover of My Papi Has a Motorcycle

Why this book?

My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a unique look at not just a father-daughter relationship, but at how they connect with their whole community. My own dad had a motorcycle, and from waiting for him to get home from work, to slipping that big helmet on, to holding onto him tightly as we flew down the streets, I connected with this story and the bond between father and daughter. A special outing with Dad, or Papi, is always a treat, and this book brings that to life.

I Don't Want to Be a Frog

By Dev Petty, Mike Boldt (illustrator),

Book cover of I Don't Want to Be a Frog

Why this book?

I Don’t Want to be a Frog is a hilarious conversation between a young frog and his dad. When the young frog wants to be a cat, rabbit, pig, owl, or really anything but a frog, it’s up to his dad to stay calm and remind him why it’s so great being exactly who he is. I love that the dad is so matter-of-fact. That he never loses patience, and he never tells his son to just stop. True dad love is sometimes as simple as being there and answering questions. Oh, and the awesome ending will crack you up! Such a fun book.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

By Mo Willems,

Book cover of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

Why this book?

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale is more than the story of a child’s missing beloved object. It is about the everyday things that a father and daughter do together. It is about the lengths a dad will go to fix a problem he was slow in figuring out. It is about the love between father and daughter. This story is so relatable, you can’t help but falling in love, and reading over and over with your kids. Or by yourself. Just because.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in toys, neighbourhoods, and self-acceptance?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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