I blogged about mothers in picture books last month here in honor of Mother’s Day, so here is my list to honor my favorite picture books featuring fathers. Not all of these books are about fathers and their biological children. Some are about fathers of great causes. Where would we be without courageous men who stood for service, truth, peace, justice, or art and beauty? We owe a debt of gratitude to them. Some of these books are biographical, and some are just fun, simply to celebrate the father-child bond.
This top one is about Charles Mulli. He’s the father to the biggest family in the world, besides God of course. You can go here to read more about him and see how to watch a documentary about him. He’s amazing!
I got to meet the man, Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber, featured in the above book. (I blogged about his 100th birthday party here.) He’s a real life father to five, and a father figure to hundreds, if not thousands, including the little girl, Mercedes, mentioned in the title of this book.This story is all about how a man, the Candy Bomber, gave a little joy to some German children after WW2 by dropping candy parachutes from a plane. My parents are friends with his daughter and her husband, so I found out from the daughter that the Candy Bomber still corresponds with Mercedes.
While we’re talking about WW2 I’ll mention another book relating to it. Thirty Minutes Over Oregon portrays the fascinating story of a Japanese man and father, Nobuo Fujita. He flew a plane over the coast of Oregon, dropping bombs over the Oregon woods. He came back 20 years to apologize, as a father of peace. This story is just such a wonderful, moving story of sorrow, regret, peace-seeking and reconciliation.
I just love how this simple picture book shows the father bird going around town looking for a better nest to please mama bird before she has her babies. It’s a sweet story of traditional male and female roles.
Emmanuel’s Dream tells of a young man who raised awareness of people with disabilities by biking 400 miles across Africa with only one leg.
Booker T. Washington’s story of building a school from the ground up, as told in the picture book above, is so inspiring!
The special bond that can be created between father and child out in nature shines through in Owl Moon.
Here’s to Mr. Rogers, the father of all Gen. Xers. He helped us feel safe being with and expressing our feelings.
I just love this story told from a child’s perspective about her father, who happens to be the father of American poetry, Robert Frost. Delightful!
The Crayon Man tells about the father of Crayola Crayons, Edwin Binney. Some of you are too young to have the phrase “Binney and Smith” mean anything to you, but if that phrase rings a bell, you will learn the history behind it by reading this adorable picture book.
Did you know that John Newbery, who the Newbery Medal is named after, fought to establish the niche of children’s books? Before him, children’s books weren’t really a thing.
I can’t have a list about fathers without the Founding Fathers of the United States. The one above is the true story of how two of the most famous ones, John and Tom, had a long-standing feud.
Then this one is about another famous Founding Father, Ben Franklin, and his friend Noah Webster, the father of American English. They attempted to start a new alphabet.
Louis Braille, the father of the Braille Alphabet, persisted to his task, because he wanted blind people to be able to read. I just love his story found in the book below.
This one is about a grandfather, called Pop Pop, and grandson enjoying cooking together.
George Washington Carver is one of the fathers of American agriculture, and peanut promotion. He thought the peanut was the best food ever and found over 100 ways to use it. This picture book tells his soul-stirring journey of rising from slave life to being an esteemed scientist.
Peter Roget is the father of the thesaurus. I love the team of Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet. Melissa’s collage illustrations are just so fun!
We can’t forget George Washington, the father of the USA! This is my favorite picture book on George because of Cheryl Harness’ gorgeous watercolor illustrations, outlined in ink. I also love all the classic, great stories of George that go with the pictures, showing his noble character. But if you are reading this to kids under 12, don’t bother to read every single word. It’s too much for them. All the words and all the details on the maps are for adults. Check out Cheryl’s other picture book biographies, of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They are all fabulous!
I just found a Little Free Library in my neighborhood! This picture book tells the story of the guy who started them.
A simple story about the simple delights of motorcycling with dad.
This one’s about the fathers of day glo colors! Haven’t you always wondered where neon paint came from? OK probably not, LOL, but go ahead and learn anyway. These two brothers invented them. It’s fun that the publisher used three Day-Glo colors: Saturn Yellow, Fire Orange, and Signal Green to create the book.
Who’s the father of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade puppets? Read this book to find out! So fun!
Here’s the story of Ezra Jack Keats, the father of the picture book, A Snowy Day. He was the first man to feature a black boy as the protagonist in a picture book.
How about learning of the life of the father of the Lord of the Rings?
Ernest Everett Just was a cell biologist. I’d never heard of him until I heard of this book. He overcame systemic racism to discover and share the wonders of the tiny world of the cell.
If you’ve ever enjoyed playing with a super soaker water gun, you were enjoying the brain child of Lonnie Johnson. This book tells the whole story of that invention.
A Day’s Work is a grandfather story. I love stories of common life.
As a monk, Gregor Mendel never fathered any children but he fathered the modern study of genetics. Because of him, high school students everywhere get to do Punnett squares to predict the traits of fruit flies.
Manjhi was a real person who showed such amazing devotion to his deceased wife and his neighbors. If you read only one book on this list, please read this one. Manjhi wanted to improve life for his fellowmen by making a shortcut to the city so they could all have quick access to easier shopping and proper medical care. His story of diligence to one cause, carving a tunnel through a mountain, for two decades, gives us all no excuses.
Happy reading about fatherhood, both literal and spiritual! May we celebrate the goodness of fathering children and causes with these books.