From fishing trips to full moon treks, these stories celebrate the bond between fathers and their children.
Peteʼs a Pizza written and illustrated by William SteigSometimes the best recipe for the rainy day blues is pizza, and not just the edible kind. Using simple drawings and whimsical patterns, William Steig tells the story of a father who cheers his son up by turning him into dough, tossing him up into the air, and adding cheese and a little salt—but no tomatoes, because Mom does not like them on her pie. Your children will laugh themselves silly at this story about the power of a little pretend and a dash of humor, especially when Dad is the chef.
Owl Moon written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr
Itʼs a full moon, “way past bedtime,” and a little girl is finally old enough to go “owling” with her father. The two walk quietly together through the winter farmscape into the forest where they call into the trees, looking for the elusive bird. As the night gets colder and darker, the drawings reveal everything from the pairʼs long shadows to the hope in the girlʼs eyes and, ultimately, the owl himself. When itʼs time to go home, we get the sense that the real treasure was not merely seeing the owl was instead having the chance to spend time with Dad. For this reason, the book is a beautiful tribute to the value of father-daughter relationships.
Fishing in the Air written by Sharon Creech and illustrated by Chris Raschka
A son remembers the day his father took him on a secret journey to a cold river and how his father’s words cast a spell on the world around them. Trees become rows of soldiers, lamplights tiny moons. As they cast their lines in the air, the father recalls his own childhood fishing trips, and together they catch the breeze, the sun and—best of all—precious memories. Chris Raschka captures the dayʼs magic with watercolors that seem to dance onto the page, then wrap and lift the characters into a sort of dream. When the father asks, “Oh, where is that house? And where are those fields and that river and that boy?” the boy answers “Right here,” and our nostalgic hearts are suddenly filled with peace.
Tom the Tamer written by Tjibbe Veldkamp and illustrated by Philip Hopman
What if you could train snails to jump on handmade trampolines, but you couldnʼt get your Dad to come and watch? Tom is an inventive showman, but his father is too terrified of animals to ever leave the house. Happily, beginning with a polar bear disguised as an armchair, Tom finds the cure for his father’s fears. He takes his whip and Fedora to the local pet store, where he becomes “Tom the Tamer” and teaches wild creatures to act like furniture, eventually sneaking them into the house. An octopus becomes a chandelier, a tiger the new rug, and so on, until Dad catches on and bolts out into the world. The dynamic, busy illustrations will keep your kids laughing and pointing. Every page is a treasure in this imaginative story about a son who tricks his father into being brave.
Weʼre Going on a Bear Hunt written by Michael Rosen and illustrated Helen Oxenbury
In this story, a father, his four children and the dog set off on a family adventure to find a bear. At every obstacle, the brave troupe trudges on, declaring “we canʼt go over it/we canʼt go under it/ we have to go through it.” The pictures alternate between black and white drawings and watercolors, with details that capture both fright and delight. Your little ones will love to act it all out—imitating squelching mud and howling wind, and finally running back to bed, where Dad and kids hide out, laughing under the covers.