The best books about dads

6 authors have picked their favorite books about dads and why they recommend each book.

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Sad Dad

By Olivia Spencer,

Book cover of Sad Dad: An Exploration of Postnatal Depression in Fathers

The book includes a review of recent studies and research in this area, looking at the effects of postnatal depression on children and relationships, and an investigation into the reasons behind male postnatal depression, including the social and psychoanalytic factors which go some way to explaining why men experience this depression as well as women.

Who am I?

Mark Williams is a keynote speaker, author, and international campaigner. In 2004 he himself experienced depression and suffered in silence for years until he entered community mental health services. He founded International Fathers Mental Health Day and #Howareyoudad campaign to make sure all parents are having support for the whole family. In 2020 Mark published the report called "Fathers Reaching Out - Why Dads Matter" to explain the importance of paternal mental health which has far better outcomes for the whole family and the development of the child when we include fathers. Mark is also an ambassador for Mothers For Mothers Charity.

I wrote...

Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health: A Guide for Recognition, Treatment and Management

By Jane Hanley, Mark Williams,

Book cover of Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health: A Guide for Recognition, Treatment and Management

What is my book about?

It is only in recent years that there has been development in the awareness of the father’s mental health. Yet, the father’s mental health can influence the mother, the infant, the family, and society. This book seeks to address the reasons why the father or the potential father could suffer from a mental disorder or illness during the perinatal period, his reactions, and what can be done to help him.

The book explores the way in which fathers’ mental health has presented in the past and how it presents now. It looks at the father’s attitudes towards his mental well-being and how he may self-manage and self-medicate. It examines the impact and influences the potential father and the father’s mental health has on his partner, infant, and children.


By Carl Hiaasen,

Book cover of Flush

I love Hiaasen’s humor and down-to-earth boy characters. In Flush, Noah is the adult in the father-son relationship. Normally I wouldn’t go for this in a story: Dads should lead by example, even in fiction. But I recognize that in real life that’s not always the case. Hiaasen’s YA novels are clean adventures that often include strong female characters, a solid moral (in this case preserving our environment), and make me want to read them again and again. I know some want to know how readers “feel” when they read a book. Not me. I’m more interested in the adventure and solving the puzzle (who is the bad guy and will he get caught?).

Who am I?

Fer over ten years I skippered a small book publishing company. During them years I inspected countless book proposals, most which got tossed overboard. I kin quickly gauge whether a manuscript be ripe fer publication. I bring that same skill ter reading YA and middle grade fiction. Ter be honest, it be a good deal easier ter judge the work of others than write great ficiton. But since “voice” be the reflection of the author’s soul, it helps ter know that those who be crafting the tales ‘ave thar moral compass aligned ter true north. These four authors be stand up in my book.

I wrote...

The End of Calico Jack

By Eddie Jones,

Book cover of The End of Calico Jack

What is my book about?

In this YA pirate tale, award-winning author Eddie Jones blends action, adventure, and humor into a fictional retelling of the pirate exploits of Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read.

The End of Calico Jack is a fictional retelling of the pirate escapades of Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read. The story is based on historical research of the life of "Calico Jack" John Rackham. Some liberties have been taken in the telling of the story, but many of the events reflect what historians believed happened to Jack, Mary, and Anne. Also, in real life, those who suffer absence seizures may appear to be in a trance but cannot recall what happens during their episode. The book includes a Pirate Map of Calico Jack's sailing routes and the ports he visited.

Becoming a Dad

By Bruce Linton Ph.D.,

Book cover of Becoming a Dad: How Fatherhood Changes Men

The dads I work with are always worried that to become the fathers they really want to be is greatly challenging since it competes with work and other obligations. The author, who is the Founder of Fathers' Forum shares his experiences and insights from the numerous mens’ groups he’s led throughout the years. I found this book to be personal, truthful, and inspirational. It is an important call-to-action for every man to decide how he wants and doesn’t want to change as he becomes a father.

Who am I?

After life-threatening postpartum depression in the 1980s, I became a pioneer of maternal mental health in the U.S. I’ve helped moms and moms-to-be finally receive the support they deserve. Between masters’ degrees, Ph.D., teaching credentials, and becoming licensed as a clinical psychologist, I wrote four books and enjoy interviews on radio and TV. Training health professionals and my clients to develop a wellness strategy for motherhood has been my life’s passion. A few years ago I realized that during this movement, dads’ experiences had been disregarded and minimized, and my mission then shifted to parental mental health. Dad’s worries and needs are important too.

I wrote...

Postpartum Depression for Dummies

By Shoshana S. Bennett Ph.D.,

Book cover of Postpartum Depression for Dummies

What is my book about?

It's a great blessing when a new mom with postpartum depression (PPD) is fortunate enough to be diagnosed early by a knowledgeable medical practitioner or therapist. But without guidance, it isn't always clear where the boundary between normal baby blues and PPD lies. As with any other illness, the quicker that PPD is identified and treated, the faster the woman will recover.
Postpartum Depression For Dummies can help you begin the process of determining what’s going on with you and give you a better idea of where you fall so that you can get yourself into proper treatment right away. The book covers all aspects of PPD, from its history and its origins to its effects on women and their families to the wide variety of treatments available.

I Love Dad with the Very Hungry Caterpillar

By Eric Carle,

Book cover of I Love Dad with the Very Hungry Caterpillar

This ode to dad is told from a child to its father using animals to illustrate the great things about fathers such as a papa polar bear being cool. It’s a smaller gift size and even though it contains spare text, it says way more than a greeting card could ever say! Eric Carle’s colorful paper cut-outs have a natural appeal to kids. This would be a great book to pair with a handmade paper cut-out Father’s Day card made by your child. 

Who am I?

My father died in 2020 during the pandemic so Father’s Day has taken on a new importance to me as far as reminding people to spend time with the people they love before they are gone. I had started to write a story about my dad and his childhood days before he went to the hospital, and with the help of his friend, was able to complete it for the family to have as a keepsake. I encourage kids to ask questions of their parents and for parents to write down or audio record the stories that they want to pass down. Children’s books and journals are a great way to start the conversation.

I wrote...

The Night Before Father's Day

By Natasha Wing, Amy Wummer (illustrator),

Book cover of The Night Before Father's Day

What is my book about?

It's the night before Father's Day, and Mom and the kids have a plan to surprise Dad with a special gift. When Dad goes for a bike ride, everyone gets to work. Dad wakes up the next day to find his garage newly organized and his car sparkly clean. So, of course, he celebrates by taking everyone for a spin!

In Country

By Bobbie Ann Mason,

Book cover of In Country

This classic 1985 novel is a favorite because it broadens the focus to the impact of the war on the families. Set in 1984, the protagonist Samantha Hughes never knew her father, who was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Her uncle, who survived the war, is living with PTSD from his experiences there, and teenage Sam is trying to make sense of it all. The expression “in country” refers to time served at the site of a military operation (in this case, metaphorically, in Vietnam). The Los Angeles Times called this novel "A moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."

Who am I?

Alice K. Boatwright has lived in the US, England, France, and India – and her career as a writer about public health, education, and the arts has taken her around the world. She began writing short stories when she was young and holds an MFA in Writing Fiction from Columbia University. Her award-winning book about the Vietnam War era, Collateral Damage, was inspired by her own experiences during the war years in the US and the time she spent working on a project in Vietnam in 1993 and 1997. She is also the author of a short story chapbook, Sea, Sky, Islands; numerous stories published in journals, such as Calyx, Mississippi Review Online, America West, Penumbra, Stone Canoe, and Amarillo Bay; and the popular Ellie Kent mysteries, based on her experiences as an ex-pat living in an English village.

I wrote...

Collateral Damage

By Alice K. Boatwright,

Book cover of Collateral Damage

What is my book about?

How many years does it take for a war to end? Collateral Damage is three linked novellas about the Vietnam War era from the perspectives of those who fought, those who resisted, and the family and friends caught between them. Now in a new edition with an introduction about the 50th anniversary of the war and discussion questions for classes and book clubs.

Visiting Day

By Jacqueline Woodson, James E. Ransome (illustrator),

Book cover of Visiting Day

Lyrical and moving, this picture book is one of Woodson’s many gems. We witness a child’s excitement and attention as she carefully prepares for the one day a month when she meets her loving father who is incarcerated. We share her anticipation, see her grandmother’s affection, and also glimpse the depth of her father’s longing to see his family. The book’s climax will bittersweet – we sense the joy of reunion but it is tinged with the knowledge of imminent separation. An insightful and deeply touching portrayal of how familial love endures, despite the harsh reality of incarceration.

Who am I?

Over 5 million children in the United States have had at least one parent in a correctional facility at one time or another. These children, and their parents, are our neighbors, our family, our friends. We might see them at a soccer match, or sit beside them at public libraries, or gather together with them regularly in prayer. They need to see themselves portrayed in a meaningful manner in the books they read. This shortlist includes two picture books, a middle-grade novel, and two young adult titles. I'm passionate about books on this topic because equity and inclusiveness and vital to me; and because I think excellent books such as these may enable us to start nuanced discussions and enhance our compassion. 

I wrote...

Born Behind Bars

By Padma Venkatraman,

Book cover of Born Behind Bars

What is my book about?

Kabir has been in jail since the day he was born, because his mom is serving time for a crime she didn’t commit. He’s never met his dad, so the only family he’s got are their cellmates, and the only place he feels the least bit free is in the classroom, where his kind teacher regales him with stories of the wonders of the outside world. Then one day a new warden arrives and announces Kabir is too old to stay. He gets handed over to a long-lost “uncle” who unfortunately turns out to be a fraud, and intends to sell Kabir. So Kabir does the only thing he can–run away as fast as his legs will take him.

How does a boy with nowhere to go and no connections make his way?

The Ultimate Baby Book for New Dads

By Roy Benaroch,

Book cover of The Ultimate Baby Book for New Dads: 100 Ways to Care for Your Baby in Their First Year

Dads need a book, too. This survival guide lists 100 things dads can do for their baby and partner to help them not only survive but thrive in their first year. The things I like about it are that it’s in color, with eye-catching pictures, the format is easy to understand— basically in bullet-point style, and it’s so funny! Dr. Roy adds a bit of daddy humor in it.  Like if you’re doing tummy time with your baby, you can expect to be burped on! 

Who am I?

When I was a young mom, I had questions:  Why won’t my baby sleep? Are all these hiccups normal? Am I doing the best I can for my child? I wanted answers. So, I read lots of books and learned as much as I could. While no book can give you all the answers for your unique child, reading some good ones can take some of the mystery out of parenting.

I wrote...

That Mama Is a Grouch

By Sherry Ellis,

Book cover of That Mama Is a Grouch

What is my book about?

Will anything get a mother yelling about time outs and withholding favors faster than a toy-strewn house? In That Mama is a Grouch, an intelligent and very wise narrator reminds us in charming rhyme that mothers are human, most often loving, and that certain situations will guarantee driving them to their breaking point. Children from three to seven will delight in this story of a mommy who’s nearly out of control, and they will learn the importance of something as simple as putting away toys. When nerves are tested, pick up this book and start reading!

Night Job

By Karen Hesse, G. Brian Karas (illustrator),

Book cover of Night Job

While the city sleeps a small boy accompanies his dad on his night shift as a school custodian, playing ball in the gym while his dad sweeps, sharing a meal they brought with them, listening to a game on the radio as they go from classroom to classroom, reading aloud on a couch until he dozes off while his dad polishes the library. I love this story for its tender sense of togetherness and for sharing the adult world of work. The night time makes it special too.

Who am I?

I’m the author of picture books about feelings (I Hate Everyone), friendship (My Best Friend, Sometimes), and family (While Grandpa Napsand now, things that go (Bye, Car). I’ve also written about taking a bath and going for a walk. Wanting to be close and cared for, and at the same time, wanting to take even tentative steps toward independence is at the heart of the challenge of growing up for young children. Negotiating between the wish to belong and the wish to separate can be messy. The themes of connection, relationship, love, and ambivalence inspire much of my writing

I wrote...

Bye, Car

By Naomi Danis, Daniel Rieley (illustrator),

Book cover of Bye, Car

What is my book about?

Each new book is an adventure for me. Bye, Car began as a story of how children love to notice cars going by, and in a wonderful synergy with editor and art designer Annie Kubler and illustrator Daniel Rieley, became so much more. The simple sensory language that might mesmerize a younger child also represents a vision of a new day with greener means of getting around. The beautiful illustrations of urban scenes and transportation options offer opportunities for further conversation. In a modest way, this picture book represents my hope that we will learn to take better care of our environment for future generations.

Dearest Josephine

By Caroline George,

Book cover of Dearest Josephine

Not only does this have a ton of timelines and things to keep track of, but it’s a beautiful love story that you can’t help but turn the pages quickly. It’s the perfect match for someone who likes all things Jane Austen and are wanting something with a little bit more of a modern feel to that.

Who am I?

When I write a book, I try to write it differently from what I’ve seen. I love high concept ideas and always want to give something different. Readers are shifting in their tastes and want to see something fresh, and so I hope I can always give them something new and exciting.

I wrote...

Dear Hero

By Hope Bolinger, Alyssa Roat,

Book cover of Dear Hero

What is my book about?

Up-and-coming teen superhero Cortex is on top of the world--at least until his villain dumps him. If he's going to save his reputation, he needs a new antagonist, and fast. Meanwhile, the villainous Vortex has once again gotten a little overeager and taken out a hero prematurely. Will any young hero be able to keep up with her? Maybe she should work on finding a steady relationship with an enemy she won't kill in the first round.
So the two turn to Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains, where they match right away. But not everything in the superhero world is as it seems. Who are the real heroes and villains? And just how fine of a line is there between love and hate? When darkness from the past threatens them both, Cortex and V may need to work together to make it out alive. 
Told entirely through texts, transcriptions, and direct messages, this darkly humorous chat fiction novel goes behind the scenes of the superworld.

Sidewalk Flowers

By Jonarno Lawson, Sydney Smith (illustrator),

Book cover of Sidewalk Flowers

Another beautiful book with wonderful ink lines and a limited palette. We join a little girl and her father on a walk through an urban area. The dad is distracted by his phone but the little girl sees and gathers wildflowers and then presents them to those in need of comfort. A poignant story on the importance and power of noticing small things.

Who am I?

As a picture book creator, I am always seeking to use as few words as possible – for me, the best picture books are those where the images do most of the storytelling. Wordless books take things a step further and totally engage the child in interpreting the story - the child becomes the story's voice. Wordless books have a special place in my heart and I’m always on the lookout for new silent treasures as they emerge into the wonderful world of picture books. I want everyone to experience the special magic of ‘reading’ wordless books. 

I wrote...

Owl Bat Bat Owl

By Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick,

Book cover of Owl Bat Bat Owl

What is my book about?

A mother owl and her three little owlets live happily on their branch. That is, until the bat family moves in. The newfound neighbors (owls up top, bats hanging below) can’t help but feel a little wary of one another. But babies are curious little creatures, and that curiosity, along with a wild, stormy night, might just bring these two families together.

With subtly and hilariously shifting facial expressions and gestures, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick brings her accessible graphic style to a warm and ingenious wordless tale that is sure to bring smiles to readers of all ages.

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