Celebrating Dads

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads and father-figures. Reposting a list of picture books that celebrate these great men. Please share your favorite books about dads of color in the comments. Thank you:

Too often, we just hear stories about dads who aren’t there. But there are so many fathers who are. They are teachers, comforters, heroes, friends. They are protectors, motivators, providers. And they’re all around us — even in the world of children’s books.

Forget about fairytale perfection. These storybook dads are the real deal – strong black men with individual experiences and concerns and a shared devotion to their children.

Here are some picture books that celebrate African-American fathers and father figures.


The Bat Boy and His Violin (Simon & Schuster), a poignant story of a boy whose father — coach of a Negro League team – makes him bat boy and comes to appreciate his special musical gift, written by Gavin Curtis, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

I Dream of Trains (Simon & Schuster), an eloquent tale of a boy who dreams of riding the rails with his hero, engineer Casey Jones, and discovers his own father is a hero too, written by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Loren Long.

In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall (Lee & Low), a collection of poems saluting black fathers, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. In this moving volume, children’s book authors such as Carole Boston Weatherford and Angela Johnson share the many ways fathers touch our lives.

Daddy Goes To Work (Little, Brown Young Readers), a sweet tale of a girl accompanying her father to his job and getting a peek at his working world, written by Jabari Asim, illustrated by Aaron Boyd. 

A Day with Daddy (Teaching Resources), a lyrical look at a boy’s weekly visit with his dad, written by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Nicole Tagdell.

Bippity Bop Barbershop (Little, Brown Young Readers), a touching trip with a boy who braves his first haircut by having his daddy at his side, written by Natasha Tarpley, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.
 Joe-Joe’s First Flight (Knopf Books for Young Readers), a beautiful tale of how a boy’s dream of flying gives wings to his father’s – and their town’s – hope, written by Natasha Tarpley, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

Kevin & His Dad (Little, Brown Young Readers), a fun day just for the guys, written by Irene Smalls, illustrated by Michael Hays.

One Million Men and Me (Just Us Books), a special view of the Million Man March through the eyes of a girl who was with her daddy the day black men made history, written by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Peter Ambush.

Father & Son (Philomel), a lyrical portrait of the beautiful connection between father and son, by Denize Lauture, illustrated by Jonathan Green.


When I Am Old with You (Orchard Books), a boy imagines being old with his grand-dad and sharing happy times with him, written by Angela Johnson, illustrated by David Soman.

When I Was Little (Just Us Books), a boy and his grand-dad share a nostalgic fishing trip, written by Toyomi Igus, illustrated by Higgins Bond.

My Pop Pop and Me (Little, Brown Young Readers), a boy spends a sweet day making lemon cake with his grand-dad, written by Irene Smalls, illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson.

Janna and the Kings (Lee & Low), a girl learns that even when her grand-dad is gone, his spirit remains, written by Patricia Smith, illustrated by Aaron Boyd.

Your Dad Was Just Like You (Simon & Schuster), a boy’s grand-dad tells him stories that help the child understand his father better, written and illustrated by Dolores Johnson.

3 thoughts on “Celebrating Dads

  1. I love “Janna and the kings” I have purchase for my granddaughters when there great gma pasted. Children are so innocent and with their little world are confusing when a dear one passes.
    I agree with your topic about absent father’s image. I missed growing up with my father, But when we seen each other it was never an issue; he never missed a beat showing me love and affection.
    Most or all these books listed can also be purchase at Overstock.com at low prices

  2. Great choices! I also like These Hands by Margaret H. Mason and How Many Stars in the Sky? by Lenny Hort. Because I write historical fiction, both in my professional life and on my blog, I also highly recommend the beautiful Langston’s Train Ride by Robert Burleigh. In this picture book, Hughes is traveling across the country to see his father in 1920, and is emboldened on that journey to first start thinking of himself as a real writer. The text is interwoven with the poem, “The Negro Speaks Of Rivers,” a poem which always reminds me of the fathers and mothers who worked so hard to get us to where we are today.
    Thank you for your wonderful list, and your wonderful work!

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