Kids like to wrestle with their dads, or do scooter tricks on the footpath, but there’s nothing quite like snuggling up next to dad with a delicious stack of books. In honour of Father’s Day, we’ve come up with our favourite books for kids to read with dad, chosen for their humour, emotion, and the chance to do ridiculous voices.
My Amazing Dad is a book about an unconventional dad who’s not very good at doing the things he should. He never gets the kids to school on time, he can’t bake cakes or fix leaky faucets and he always forgets bedtime. But this dad is good at turning the ordinary into something special. He tells great stories, gobbles up cakes with gusto and makes amazing bubble baths.
Award-winning writer Neil Gaiman is best known for his books for grown-ups, but The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish is is a skillful, hilarious first foray into the world of children’s literature. As the book title suggests, the story is about the chaos that ensues (and the trouble the kids get in with mum) when she discovers they’ve traded in dad for a couple of pet fish.
Kids of the 80s will remember the Little Critter books well, and Just Me and My Dad is a lovely book for fathers to read to kids. In the book, a father-son camping trip goes awry with typical Little Critter mistakes, but in spite of this, they have a merry time catching fish for dinner and sleeping under the stars.
Another classic book, Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, is the tale of a clever fox who loses his tail trying to save his family and community from the meanest farmers around. The book is full of noble characters, that unique Roald Dahl brand of gross, and enough suspense and excitement to keep kids begging for one more chapter before bed.
My Dad Used to be So Cool might strike a chord with some dads, particularly the ones whose life before kids included cool things like checking out new craft breweries. The boy in the story still believes his dad is cool though, and no hoppy pale ale can compare with that.
Where Goodnight Gorilla is little on words, it’s big on expressive art and a hilarious story. On a boring, sleepless night at the zoo, the gorilla decides he’s going to follow the zookeeper around and let all the animals out of their cages. Dad will have fun acting out the animals’ mischief, making for a bedtime story that’s more riotous than relaxing.
With scurvy pelicans and missing fish treasure, Warduff and the Pelican Pirates will give dads a chance to break out their pirate voices. International Talk Like a Pirate Day comes only two short weeks after Father’s Day, and dad might appreciate the practise!
So many dads love a spooky story, and this classic Book of Ghosts and Goblins by Ruth Manning-Sanders is said to contain some of the best and scariest stories from around the world. This book isn’t for the faint of heart, but kids who scoff at monsters under the bed will love the scary rush.
Maps by Alexandra and Daniel Mizielinski is full of exquisite illustrations of countries around the world and all the things they’re famous for. The pages on Australia have three varieties of kangaroo, Melbourne’s Federation Square and the thousands-of-years-old rock paintings in Northern Queensland. There are so many beautiful pages to pore over together and make up stories about, this book will last for months of bedtime stories.
Pirate voices, riotous mischief and spooky tales aside, sometimes it’s lovely to thank the guy who’s always there whether they be “race-with-the-wind-days…the days I could fly” or “I-can’t-find-my-socks-days…the days when I cry”. Written by Australian author and illustrator team Corinne Fenton and Robin Cowcher, Counting on You is a beautiful tribute to dad.