Dads are notoriously hard to buy gifts for, but it’s hard to go wrong with a good book, so here is a round up of the best books for Father’s Day! A lot of Father’s Day lists are heavy on World War II and baseball-related titles, but dads are a multitude, so this list branches out a bit. Gifting to a dad who loves to read with his kids? Helping a father in you life pick a new piece of fiction to get lost in? Read on!
Books for New Dads
The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of your Life by Benjamin Watson
Written by an NFL player and huge proponent of the relationships between fathers and their children, The New Dad’s Playbook uses helpful sports analogies to walk fathers through the steps of bringing a child into the family. With an emphasis on supporting both their partners and the newest additions, fathers are shown how to expect the unexpected and become an active part of the plan.
The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad by Mike Birbiglia
Comedy and poetry about being a new parent? Yes please. This book evolved from comedian Birbiglia’s set about being jealous of his newborn baby and his journals chronicling the incredibly strange shift that happens when you bring someone new into the family. There is no sugarcoating, but still some sweetness.
Picture Books for Dads
A Father’s Love by Hannah Holt and Yee Von Chan
This sweet picture book pairs father/baby illustrations with lessons about colors. The art especially takes the main stage as the gentle text is perfect for reinforcing the love between fathers and their children, all around the world and even throughout the animal kingdom.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Pena
Daisy Ramona waits all day for evening motorcycle rides with her father. As they zoom around their California neighborhood, rich characters from the past and present flesh out an ever-changing home. The illustrations seem comic book–inspired and the love reverberates off the page.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison
In this endearing picture book (turned Academy Award winning short film), Zuri knows how beautiful her hair is, but she needs a little help from her daddy to pull off a special style for a special day. After a few rough starts, the pair work together to help Zuri’s hair shine.
My Dad Used to Be So Cool by Keith Negley
The art definitely caught my eye on this book; Flying Eye (the publishing company that put this out) tends to have very aesthetically pleasing titles, and My Dad Used to Be So Cool is definitely among the best. A father reflects on the way his life has changed since his childless days, while his child realizes his dad is still the coolest guy around.
Nonfiction Books for Dads
The Last Negroes at Harvard: The Class of 1963 and the 18 Young Men Who Changed Harvard Forever by Kent Garrett and Jeanne Ellsworth
This book explores the lives of 18 African American men who were recruited to attend Harvard in 1959. Not only is their time at the college recounted, but the author, one of the young men who was part of this cohort, reconnects with several of the other graduates nearly 50 years later in order to discuss what their time at Harvard meant to them, and how they continued on with their lives. A fresh lens on the Civil Rights movement and an engaging memoir in its own right.
Harper Lee’s last case covered as a reporter is that of a rural preacher accused of killing several of his family members and the ensuing court cases. Both the crimes and Lee’s coverage shine in this true crime portrait.
History books are usually among the best books for Father’s day, but let’s make sure they have all the facts! Filling in the gaps left by traditional American schooling, this book discusses history from the vantage point of typically suppressed voices, placing African-American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices front and center for a more complete discussion of this country’s history.
Fiction Books for Dads
Loving Day by Mat Johnson
This book includes a number of things we need right now: discussions of biracial identities, comic books, haunted mansions, father/daughter relationships, ghosts, and humor. A man returns to America with his life in shambles, meets a daughter he was unaware of, and they set up in a giant roofless house that is his sole inheritance. Hilarious and heartwarming.
Quantum: A Thriller by Patricia Cornwall
This police procedural and mystery wrapped into one features a NASA scientist, Captain Chace, trying to unravel a suspicious situation with startling ties to her own twin sister. This against the backdrop of a possible government shutdown and a looming space mission leads to a race to clear her sister’s name. Bonus: this book has a sequel—a second gift for dad!
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
In her follow up to Station Eleven, Mandel again weaves several seemingly unconnected plot lines into something surprising. The Glass Hotel contains a Ponzi scheme crashing to the ground, a woman disappearing from a ship at sea, and a mysterious message: Why don’t you swallow broken glass? Perfect for those who love to be kept guessing.
Hopefully a title from this list of some of the best books for Father’s Day has inspired you to bring a little reading goodness into the life of someone you love. Looking for some more books to get dad? Check out this list! Looking for more picture books? Right here! Pair a good book with a mug for reading & sipping, or a hammock to inspire an outdoor nook, and you’re about to make a dad in your life VERY happy.