Your Father

Storybooks for Fathers and Daughters

Dads, what storybooks are you reading to your young daughters? Have you taken a closer look at the messages in those books – messages about father-daughter relationships. In your daughters’ favorite books, what kind of relationship do the dad and daughter have? Is dad nothing more than a playmate or a “fix it” repairman? Is dad the only breadwinner in the family while mom raises the kids? Is mom portrayed as the more nurturing, more knowledgeable, and more involved parent – especially in the daughter’s life? Is most of the father’s time being spent with his son instead of his daughter? Is the father spending any time alone with just his daughter – without mom or little brother ?

As a feminist psychologist, I invest many hours looking for children’s books that portray fathers being just as competent, as nurturing and as involved in their daughter’s lives as mothers – especially books that show fathers and daughters enjoying themselves with one another without other family members involved. These books are few and far between. Here are ten of my favorites:

Two Old Potatoes and Me – J. Coy, 2004, Knopf

Give Her the River – M. Browne, 2004, Simon & Schuster

A Twinkle in His Eye – Burton, 2000, Shooting Start Publishing

Animal Dads – N. Collard, 2002, Houghton Mifflin

The Dance – R. Evans, 1999, Simon & Schuster

Daddy Will Be There – L. Grambling, 1996, Greenwillow Books

Tiny’s Hat – A. Grifalconi, 1999, Harper Collins.

After Charlotte’s Mom Died – C. Spelman, 1999,

Night Shift Daddy – E. Spinelli, 2000, Hyperion

I Live With Daddy – J. Vigna, 1997, Albert Whitman & Co.

Send me an e-mail if you know of other children’s books that portray fathers as loving, competent, involved parents with their daughters. nielsen@wfu.edu

©2008 Dr. Linda Nielsen

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It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. Pope John XXIII

Dr. Nielsen has been teaching, counseling, conducting research and writing about adolescents and father-daughter relationships since 1970. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of the outstanding graduate's award in teacher education from the University of Tennessee in 1969, she taught and counseled high school students for several years. After earning a Master's Degree in Counseling and a Doctorate in Educational and Adolescent Psychology, she joined the faculty of Wake Forest University in 1974. Her grants and awards include the Outstanding Article Award in 1980 from the U.S. Center for Women Scholars and a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Association of University Women. For the past fifteen years she has focused primarily on father-daughter relationships with a special emphasis on divorced fathers and their daughters. Her work has been cited in the "Wall Street Journal" as well as in popular magzines such as "Cosmopolitan", and shared through television and radio interviews..

In 1991 she created her "Fathers & Daughters" course - the only college course in the country that focuses exclusively on father-daughter relationships. In addition to having written several dozen articles for journals such as the "Harvard Educational Review" and the "Journal of Divorce & Remarriage", Dr. Nielsen has written three books: How to Motivate Adolescents (Prentice Hall) and Adolescence: A Contemporary View (Harcourt Brace) which sold more than 60,000 copies and was adopted by hundreds of universities throughout the country and abroad between 1986-1996. Her third book, Embracing Your Father: Creating the Relationship You Want with Your Dad was published in April, 2004. www.wfu.edu/~nielsen or E-Mail

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