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5 lovely Father's Day books for new dads

Why do so few children's books give equal billing to dads? Here are five great choices that do.

By Rebekah Denn / June 6, 2011

In "Only My Dad and Me" a rabbit father and his son enjoy special activities together during each of the four seasons.

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Thinking of books for a Father’s Day gift? It may seem early, but if you’re buying for a new dad, the search may take extra time. Oh, there are some great reads that show new fatherhood in all its exhausting, heartwarming, grimly funny reality.

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(Even 4 a.m. feedings can be entertaining if you’re reading "The Poo Bomb" by Jeff Vogel, and I’m a great fan of "Hungry Monkey" by Matthew Amster-Burton. In new releases, Keith Dixon’s “Cooking for Gracie” will nourish the soul as well as the stomach.)

But when it comes to the books dads might read with children, the fathers often get short-changed. It’s the moms who are depicted in picture books as the loving, constant, central figures of children’s lives, while too often the father who reads to his babies and toddlers winds up with stories celebrating the relationship between kids and their mothers. Just think of Max in “Where The Wild Things Are,” who wants to be home, where someone – that’s mom – loves him best of all. Or think of the reassuring parent in “The Runaway Bunny,” who will always follow her little one no matter where he goes.

When my husband first noted the disparity in our son’s bedtime books, I started searching for great reads that gave equal billing to dads. Fortunately, there are some lovely ones out there – some in print, some now only available used. Here are some of our favorites (#2 and #4 have mom versions as well). Have any to add for Father’s Day – and all the other nights of bedtime books?

1. "Daddy Is a Doodlebug" by Bruce Degen: A loving, rhyming, ode to an old-fashioned dad and son (they’re both bugs, but that just adds to the fun) who draw together, play in the park, and read stories. Sitting in a diner, the bug son explains how “We are soup with noodle bugs/We are apple strudel bugs.” At bedtime, it’s “sweet bug dreams and goodlebug night!” Degen is better known for the classic “Jamberry” and for his illustrations in the Magic School Bus books, but this sweet story deserves similar status.

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