Books to Read with Dad

Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 18! In honor of this special day, we asked Jumpstart staff to share recommendations for their favorite books to read with Dad. We heard from fathers about what they love to read with their children, and from others who shared the books that they loved to read with their own dads when they were little.

This post is dedicated to all of the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other male caregivers out there who love to read with their kids. Happy Father’s Day to all of you!

50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch

Reading at night was a prized favorite activity in my house. I remember these bedtime moments so fondly; they definitely played a big role in turning me into an avid reader and lover of great stories as I grew up. One of our favorites was 50 Below Zero. I asked my dad what his memories of this book were, and he said, “I liked reading it because both you and your sister enjoyed the outrageous idea of a sleepwalking dad in the icy winter night being saved by his child. It had a great hook repeated throughout the book: ‘zzzzz-zzzzz-zzzzz-zzzzz-zzzzz’ which finally woke the boy up to shout ‘What’s that? What’s that? What’s that!’ Who could ask for anything more? And then all the adventures outside. It was a treat for the reader as well as the children.” – Jessie Levit-Shore, Development Writer

The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang

Ironically, one of the books all three of my children loved to read had no words at all! It follows an elderly woman with her basket of strawberries from the market to her family home as she outsmarts a mysterious character who seems intent on stealing her strawberries. The illustrations are so engaging and dramatic. And precisely because there are no words, it provided great opportunities for all of us to describe our observations and tell and retell the story many different ways. – Mark Reilly, VP of Policy & Government Relations

Sandra Boynton’s Board Book series 

These short and fun board books were a huge hit in our house. Some of our favorites were But Not the Hippopotamus, Moo, Baa, La La La!, and Blue Hat, Green Hat. Each one has a group of positive, upbeat animals engaged in some silly, unexpected activity. My kids were always anticipating the pages with the laughs and often sought out some of Boynton’s books as part of our nightly reading routine. As you can see in the photo with my then-newborn daughter Allison, I started early! – Mark Reilly, VP of Policy & Government Relations

A Sleepy Story by Elisabeth Burrowes

I think I like this book more than my daughter, because it’s a book my mom read me. When I found it at my mom’s house a year ago, and opened it up to read to my daughter, it unlocked this whole mental suitcase of memories that I forgot about. I loved this book as a kid. It’s rhythmic, almost hypnotic. And reading it to my daughter now – despite the fact that she’s maybe half-interested – helps me connect to my own childhood and connect my mom to her. – Chris Patterson, Director of Development

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel

This book is just like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song. You start with one line, and then add on an additional line page by page, repeating the lines that have been added along the way. My daughter has really learned the lines and loves to spout out what she knows from memory. And it’s one of those books where some of the words of each sentence aren’t actually words, but pictures. So it allows us to read together – I’m reading words and she’s “reading” the images out loud. We truly read this book together. Like a little duet. – Chris Patterson, Director of Development

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Reading with my dad, or being read to by my dad, has always been a cherished and special time for me. My dad has one of those wonderfully engaging reading voices that you could listen to for hours, whatever the subject. But, for both my sister and I, the books we read with our dad were especially meaningful and important to us. My dad traveled a lot for work when I was younger, and being able to spend time reading with him when he was home was one of the best gifts we could ever ask for, and he frequently brought books back to read with us! However, my favorite book to read with him is a reading experience that I think of often. It is not only a memory of reading, it is one of the earliest memories I can recall. When I was 4 or 5 my dad started The Hobbit with me, instilling a lifelong love of JRR Tolkien’s works. With his international travels for work, it took over a year to finish the book – and being a hardworking adult there were more than a few elbow nudges sent his way whenever he drifted off mid-sentence (sorry Dad!) – but my memories of reading The Hobbit have been the foundation for my love of reading. I can quote most of the opening pages and this book will forever be a comforting and nostalgic read for me.  – Grace Strong, Manager of Campaigns & Events

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson

Growing up, we had a weekly tradition of reading the Sunday comics together, and so every Sunday my brother and I would bring the newspaper to Dad in bed, and then proceed to rip through the pages until we found the colorful comics section. When we were younger, he would read the comics to us, and gradually as we became better readers, my brother and I took over the reading. We usually read the entire section (which in those days was a good 4+ pages of comics), but our favorite was always Calvin and Hobbes. At some point Dad got us a compilation book of all of the Calvin and Hobbes comics which was a prized possession. My dad has a very dry sense of humor, and Calvin’s Dad has always reminded me a bit of my dad (though I think my dad is more fun). – Carly Stearnbourne, Director of Communications

We’d love to hear from you: What are your favorites to read with your father? Or if you’re a dad, what’s your favorite to read with your children?

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

Donate Now