What are your favorite baby books and toys that include dads?

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Lolo
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
IMG_4202 (2)
Photo by KateL.24.
So many baby and toddler books and toys seem mama-centric — from the "Nothing's Okay until Mommy comes home!" genre of books (Are You My Mother?, etc.) to puzzles or toys depicting only mother animals with their babies. I would love to share a more balanced view with my little boys. My toddler loves the Daddy Kisses and Daddy Hugs books, and I have found a few good toys that show male animals with babies, but I would love more options!

Can anyone recommend some great books or toys that depict father and/or male caregivers giving love and support to their children? — Lolo
  1. I just received the board book Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle and it's all about how different fish fathers care for their eggs.

    Being a Carle book, it's short, sweet, and the illustrations are lovely and colorful!

    • I picked this up at the grocery store the other day, it is super cute. They have it in a mailable form that you can stick postage on and send it to a new or expecting parent.

    • This book is so sweet! I have this one for my son . I felt he needed to have a book that not only is about fathers but about two fathers just so that I reach him that not everyone had a mommy and daddy. Sometimes we have two mommy's or in this case two daddy's.

    • This book is so sweet! I have this one for my son . I felt he needed to have a book that not only is about fathers but about two fathers just so that I teach him that not everyone had a mommy and daddy. Sometimes we have two mommy's or in this case two daddy's.

  2. One of my favorite books to read to my son is called The Bedtime Train. It has insanely awesome illustrations and is all about this little British boy and his dad-so so good!!

    • I second Guess How Much I Love You! It has a dad as the nurturing parent without making a big deal out of that.

  3. Not sure if they're available across the pond, but here in the UK we have a living legend called Michael Rosen.

    His version of We're Going on a Bear Hunt is possibly the best children's book in the whole universe. It's the rhyme you know from camp, but with awesome pictures from Helen Oxenbury, featuring a family of kids, led by Dad. Get your hands on a copy any which way you can.

    Also, if you can get it, his Sad Book, written after the death of his son, is incredibly powerful and moving, but still for kids.

    Invest! Import if you have to!


  4. "Why?", by Lindsay Camp and Tony Ross, is a lovely story about a little girl who drives her Dad mad by constantly asking, "Why?" (but ends up saving the world from aliens).

  5. "Something Good" by Robert Munsch is about two kids grocery shopping with their dad. Definitely one of my favourites.

  6. Not the best example I'm sure, but Enoch the Emu is about a Daddy emu sitting on the nest after Mum leaves until the eggs hatch. It's a bit hard on the Mum who's off on a holiday, and shows Dad struggling a bit and initially being a doofus, but I love the ending with the Daddy in love with all his little chicks and Mum coming home to them all. It explains about male emu's being the ones to sit on the nest and protect the eggs in real life too.

  7. I say yes to asking a librarian! Also, if your kiddos are school-aged, teachers are excellent resources for books that match the content you want as well as your child's reading level. As a teacher (no bias here as to our ability to recommend!), I guide my older students towards novels like "The Red Pyramid" (Rick Riordan) and even "To Kill a Mockingbird." Strong fathers of young adults can be even harder to find!

  8. This has been my five year old's favorite since she was a toddler. It's about a daddy and toddler panda and all the fun stuff they do together.


    I'd skip over "Daddies do it Different" We heard it at a storytime at Barnes & Nobles recently and the gender typing kind of got under my skin.

    Also, for you Star Wars geeks. this is too funny!


  9. "Papa Please Get The Moon For Me" by Eric Carle was my favorite as a little girl. Most books that my dad frequently read with me, regardless of theme, have become favorites. I think it's more to do with the memories than the books themselves.

  10. I love Papa Do You Love Me? which is a sibling book to the more popular Mama Do You Love Me. I love it because the child is afraid and nervous and worried that they'll mess up and Papa will stop loving you, and the answer is always that that will never happen.
    I also love The Great Big Book of Families which talks about all different ways families can be, and includes two dads, step dads, single dads, stay at home dads, disabled dads…

  11. Owl Moon is a cool book about a girl and her Dad that go owling (just to see them, not to do anything to them). It's cosy and gentle.

    I love all these ideas!

  12. My Dad Loves Me is a beautiful book with different animal dad-baby pairs, and a new verb on each page (my dad plays with me, my dad teaches me, my dad kisses me, etc.) We have it in board book format; I don't know if there's a hardcover or paperback. In Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? Little Bear and Big Bear are both male, though no relationship is officially established.

  13. We have "Spot Loves his Dad" – Spot spends a day with dad – and "Daddies are for wild things", which does have a couple of gender stereotypes in it, but is good fun. And my partner uses it as an excuse to discuss said stereotypes with his boys, so there's that!

  14. As a former bookseller, my favorite two are "More, More, More, Said the Baby"–which kind of unspecifically includes Dad, but also shows VERY blended families. It's by Vera Williams.
    The second is "The Daddy Mountain" by Jules Feiffer. It's a hilarious picture book that shows a child (of unspecified gender) climbing Dad, starting at the bottom, and climbing all the way to the top of his head. SO FUN.

  15. More More More Said the Baby (http://www.amazon.com/More-Said-Baby-Caldecott-Honor/dp/0688147364) has both dads and moms. I loved it as a toddler and still love it today. It is a wonderful picture of love. I also LOVE the Rosemary Wells book Island Light (http://www.amazon.com/Island-Light-Voyage-Bunny-Planet/dp/0803711786/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376551829&sr=1-1&keywords=island+light+rosemary+wells) which is about…spoilers…baking gingerbread in a lighthouse with the protagonist's father. Also, no child is too young for the Will Smith song Just the Two of Us (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WamkRSDeD8).


    He's a genius. Many many many of his books feature fathers. My favourite thing about his books are that they so subtly subversive when it comes to representing fathers in early childhood literature–and a variety of "otherness" as well!

    "David's Father" is about a little boy who's father is a giant. The boy says he's adopted at one point and it's completely accepted and not even really reacted to. No mother makes an appearance.

    "Something Good" is about a father who takes his three children shopping. The fact that's the father is there and not the mother isn't mentioned.

    Robert Munsch has several adopted children and they regularly make appearances as characters in his books. Robert Munsch includes representations of blended families, single-parent families, grandparents, disabled characters, racially diverse families (both whole representations and families that are racially mixed within themselves), and poor people. These all seem basic but a bit if perusing of early childhood literature provides a dearth of these representations, ESPECIALLY in the context where they are NOT the primary focus of the story. I highly recommend!

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.