10 Dads on the Picture Books They Love Reading to Their Kids
by Jennifer Garry
Few things in life make my heart go all aflutter like the sight of my husband curled up on the couch reading to one of our daughters. The snuggles, the reading voice, the attentiveness — I just know that I’m witnessing a cherished memory being made, and it feels like magic.
We asked 10 dads to talk about their favorite picture book to read to their kids.
My Dad Thinks He’s Funny
An ode to dad jokes, this story of a boy and his dad is filled with classic dad one-liners that are sure to make you groan while also warming your heart.
A dad’s take: “It reminds me of my dad and how he was funny about everything — from the corny jokes he used to tell to how he’d use humor to get me to do anything. The book also shows how you pass those ‘dad’ things on to the next generation.” —Alex
Wee Hee Hee
This is definitely the best-looking joke book you’ve ever seen, and it even gives kids tips on how to deliver the perfect punchline.
A dad’s take: “I’ve read Wee Hee Hee so often with my kids that they’ve memorized all the jokes — which just means now they start laughing before the punchlines hit.” —Court
The story of a young mouse that invents a terrible creature named the Gruffalo to keep the other animals from eating him is guaranteed to be read over and over again.
A dad’s take: “The book is so fun to read aloud. I’ve exclaimed, 'Oh help! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo!' so many times, but I like to think I bring something new with each performance.” —Rich
The Story of Ferdinand
Ferdinand isn’t like the other bulls. So what happens when he’s mistaken for a fierce fighter and sent off to the bullfights in Madrid?
A dad’s take: “Ferdinand is the story of a bull who would rather sit quietly and smell the flowers than butt heads with the other bulls, but he grows up to be the biggest bull and is picked to fight. When he'd rather smell the roses in all the lovely ladies' hair, he infuriates the picadores and the banderilleros and the matador. This always brings me back to the memory of my baseball team losing a championship game and my heartbroken teammates being furious at me for being cheery because it was just a game and we still got ice cream. I probably should have just sat quietly and smelled the flowers. It's a great book to read to your kids because it's the story of a youngster who grows up comfortable in his own skin, and it presents some food for thought on feeling different, violence, and even animal rights.” —Tim
The Book with No Pictures
A book with no pictures might sound unexciting to young readers, but when they realize the person reading it has to read every word out loud — even total nonsense words — things can get pretty interesting (and really, really silly!).
A dad’s take: "I love reading The Book with No Pictures because it teaches my 4-year-old that reading can be entertaining in various ways, and I get a chance to practice a bunch of funny voices and words. I mean, how often do you get to say BLORK in real life?” —John
With vibrant barnyard animals and oversized flaps to lift, this book is one part read-aloud, one part peek-a-boo game.
A dad’s take: “I absolutely love reading to my 8-month old daughter, Isabella. She loves the colorful animals in this book as well as the fun, interactive text. When we sit down in her room after a long day and I reach for this book, she automatically smiles, perks up, and can’t wait to mimic the peek-a-boo gestures and sounds. This book has truly become a staple in our household library.” —Pete
The Enormous Crocodile
The Enormous Crocodile is a horrible creature who loves to eat boys and girls. But the other animals have had enough, and they scheme to beat him once and for all.
A dad’s take: “As my kids get older, we don’t have the chance to read together as much as we used to. However, last month I had the opportunity to read Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile to my fourth grader’s class, and it was a huge hit. The kids loved the nefarious humor and couldn’t wait to see how the story ended. Dahl’s books are the perfect mix of adult and kid-friendly laughs!” —Jed
This funny board book teaches kids about opposites with the help of bright, bold illustrations that are sure to get a belly laugh or two.
A dad’s take: “I love hearing my kids’ voices when they repeat the text on each page. Also, my youngest always calls the peach ‘butt cheeks,’ and it makes me laugh every single time.” —Pete Z.
The Monster at the End of This Book
This classic, giggle-inducing book stars a frantic Grover desperately trying to keep readers from turning the pages and finding the monster at the end of the book.
A dad’s take: “My son and I really enjoy reading this book together. He energetically turns the pages because Grover is asking him not to, and — as a rebellious threenager — he enjoys doing the opposite of what he’s told.” —Nick
Magical Secret Garden
Lily, a new Flower Fairy, uncovers a message guiding her to a magical secret place. Little readers get to explore with Lily on her journey through the help of pop-ups.
A dad’s take: “I love this book because it’s beautifully illustrated and has a character my daughter can connect to, because she’s curious and adventurous, too.” —Jay