My 18-month-old son is a bibliophile. When he likes a book, he can’t contain himself. After the last page has been turned, he immediately turns himself to face me and give his one-word critique -- ‘More!’. It’s just one word but for emphasis, he often states it simultaneously in two languages: in English and sign language. When he’s really into it, his love for books erupts, causing him to spin around on my lap like a footed-pajama wearing dreidel.
I admit, I’m an enabler. Ninety-five percent of the time, I give into his request and flip the book to the beginning. One day last week, we read a book cover to cover 34 times!
After reading so many baby books, I’ve learned that the content of the books matters. It matters to me. I’m reading these things a dozen times in a row, and a well written and illustrated book is worth it’s weight in gold. But the content of the books matters way more to my son. Not only do they help him identify and name things, books are the primary media he uses to explore the world. They help him understand things like cause and effect, and context and relationships.
When my son was a few months old, I realized we had tons of books with a loving relationship between mother and child at their literary core, but none involved a nurturing father. As my son got older and grew into a massive consumer of books, this observation grew into annoyance, then frustration. That reality didn’t represent my son’s life. My wife and I nurture and give affection to our son equally, and I’m proud of being his primary caretaker. What would he learn reading dozens of books without a caring father?
I started scouring the internet and buying dad related baby books for us to read together. And below, I’m sharing some of my favorites. Here are 6 dad-centric baby books.
6. Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada, by Jimmy Fallon
The normal civility in my home was destroyed as my wife and I battled for months to get our son to say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ first. One time I was in another room and heard her whispering ‘mama’ over and over to our son, trying to get a quick leg up. Jimmy Fallon’s book plays on this common parental feud as all sorts of animal dads try to get children to say ‘dada’. (For the record: ‘Dada’ was my son’s first word. Also for the record: I cried when he said it.)
5. Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney
This was the first dad-and-child book I bought. It has adorable dialogue with a son asking his rabbit dad if there are limits to his love for him. Spoiler alert: There aren’t. I like this book a lot but for some reason my son doesn’t. We have yet to make it to the end before he gets up to get a new book.
4. I Love You, Daddy, by Jillian Harker and Kristina Stephenson
Everyone knows bears are great. Some of the greatest bears around are bear dads that teach their kids to eat honey, cross streams and do other typical bear things.
3. My Dad Loves Me
This straight-forward book has all sorts of animal dads showing love to their kids. Every time we get to the horse page my son yells ‘NEIGGHHHHHHH!’. He does a really good ‘neigh’.
2. Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz
Have you ever seen your toddler hug another toddler? Holy cow, it’s adorable. I’m a fan of any book that encourages kids to hug. That’s what this one does. My son loves this book and has nearly memorized all ten types of daddy hugs that it lists.
1. Because I'm Your Dad by Ahmet Zappa
Water accidentally spilled all over this book in the diaper bag a few weeks ago. You know what my son did after it dried out? He loved the water-logged and warped book even more. We read this book about a dad monster teaching his monster son how to play drums and use a pogo stick on an endless loop. The best part is when he points at the monster dad at the end and says ‘dada’.
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