30 Best Books About Dads to Read for Father’s Day
Give Dad a reason to take a break, curl up on the couch, and understand just how important he is to you. These picks will entertain, enlighten, and totally make his day.
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All about Dad
Your dad may be one of a kind, but he’s got a few things in common with other dads: He loves a good dad joke (or a bad one, as the case may be), he loves his kids more than anything, and he always tries to do the right thing. His hard work may often go unnoticed, and that’s why we celebrate Father’s Day—to carve out one day to show him how much we appreciate him. Chances are, you’re looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift, and we’ve got tons of ideas to help you find just the right thing, including these Father’s Day books about dads that entertain, enlighten, and encapsulate the wild ride that is fatherhood.
From books filled with funny musings on being a dad and essential advice for building a strong relationship with kids to powerful memoirs and riveting fiction, we’ve got something for every type of dad—and all of it will give the two of you something to talk about. Giving a book also works for all sorts of dads in your life, not just your own dad. Depending on what you choose, you can find a great gift for your husband or a gift for your grandpa in addition to your own dear old dad or stepdad. Pair it with a Father’s Day card (with one of these Father’s Day quotes written in it) and you’re all set! Once you’ve got the present portion of the big day sorted, it’s time to plan some fun Father’s Day activities for a truly special holiday.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
With Dreams from My Father, the former president crafts a poetic yet unsentimental memoir about his early years. The story begins with Obama learning of his father’s death, then follows his journey to visit his father’s family in Kenya. In the process, he faces some hard truths about his father’s life and his own life. Dads will be riveted by this true story that’s filled with poignant insights on family and heritage. If your father loves this genre, you might also want to take a look at these other compelling memoirs.
The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year by Armin Brott
Looking for a first Father’s Day gift idea? You’ve found it! This book helps new dads (and dads-to-be) figure out how to be effective and involved when they don’t have as much time to spend with their little ones as they want. It also addresses topics like how dads can be prepared for the unexpected and how they can start saving for their child’s future. But its true gift is showing dads that they are not alone when facing things they never imagined would be part of their first year of fatherhood.
To Me, He Was Just Dad: Stories of Growing Up with Famous Fathers by Joshua David Stein
If your dad loves all things pop culture, he’ll appreciate this compilation of essays by kids with famous dads. The 40 celeb dads at the center of the book are big-time names, including John Lennon, Christopher Reeve, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Lee, Caitlyn Jenner, Jeff Bridges, John Wayne, Miles Davis, Cesar Chavez, and Leonard Nimoy. He’ll get a kick out of this behind-the-scenes look at these well-known figures, and you’ll let him know that even if he’s not famous himself, he’s still a star in your eyes.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
When it comes to Father’s Day books, this one is really special. It’s a sweet illustrated tale he can share with his young kids as he also shares an important message. As the dad in the book helps his daughter with a special hairstyle, he boosts his bond with her and shows her how to be confident in the process and love her natural hair. This book was a tie-in with the Academy Award-winning short film of the same name, and it was a New York Times bestseller. It’s sure to inspire excellent daddy-daughter time, good conversations, and maybe even some new hairstyles.
Esther the Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter
Not all dads have human children! If you’ve heard of the Internet phenomenon known as Esther the Wonder Pig, you’ve probably seen the loving posts that this adorable pig’s two adoptive dads make about her. Written by Esther’s dads, this captivating and hilarious book tells the story of how they first thought they were adopting a miniature pig. They soon found out there is really no such thing, and they upended their comfortable lives to devote themselves to the pig they quickly grew to love. This is ultimately a story of love and fatherhood beyond species that knows no limits.
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Michaux Nelson
Some dads make an impact well beyond their families. That was the case of Lewis Michaux Sr., who founded a beloved bookstore in Harlem in the 1930s that attracted the likes of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X and brought the community together. Told from the point of view of Michaux’s son (though written by another relative), this award-winning work explores books as the basis for communities, where wisdom is exchanged while stories unfold. While the National Memorial African Bookstore closed in the ’70s, you can buy from these Black-owned bookstores today.
Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman
Dads who don’t mind laughing and crying while they read will enjoy the moving and fun essays in this book. It was conceived (so to speak) after the birth of Backman’s son when he was contemplating everything he wanted to share with his child as he grew up. Written with care, unflinching honesty, and a hefty dose of humor, it’s a book that any dad will be able to relate to.
Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael Chabon
What is the meaning of fatherhood? There’s no doubt that every dad has asked himself that at some point. It’s a deep topic that Michael Chabon addresses in this compilation of essays, and it includes his viral GQ essay from 2016, in which he discussed his experience supporting his son’s interest in fashion when he himself had no interest in it. It’s a terrific Father’s Day gift from a son who appreciates his dad’s unfailing love and support.
Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of The Brady Bunch As Told by the Father/Son Team Who Really Know by Lloyd Schwartz and Sherwood Schwartz
Sherwood Schwartz created The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island, and his equally talented son, Lloyd Schwartz, worked his way up in show business to eventually become his producing partner. The father-son duo collaborated together on successful sequels like A Very Brady Christmas. In Brady, Brady, Brady, they take you behind the scenes to learn what it was really like to be at the center of the most beloved family sitcom of all time. Dads who love classic TV and who grew up with the Bradys will adore this book. After reading this Father’s Day book, take a trip down memory lane with your favorite TV dads.
Familyhood by Paul Reiser
Paul Reiser has enjoyed a long, successful career as a comedian and actor because he’s both relatable and hilarious. With Familyhood, Reiser continues his series of books that include Couplehood and Babyhood. Through a series of funny anecdotes and personal confessions, he writes about life as the middle-aged dad of two sons. The Mad About You star once again succeeds in creating a lovely book that will inspire laughter and tears.
Daughters of Men: Portraits of African-American Women and Their Fathers by Rachel Vassel
In Daughters of Men, Rachel Vassel pairs gorgeous photographs of famous women and their loving fathers with well-written, compelling essays. The result is an intimate look at fatherhood and the irreplaceable role that dads play in the lives of their daughters. Any girl dads (and daddy’s girls) will delight in this book that’s a wholehearted celebration of the special connection that dads have with their daughters.
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
Kristen Bell says, “Read this unless you’re allergic to laughing.” Justin Halpern’s comedic book Sh*t My Dad Says is a Twitter success story. Halpern started posting the hilarious stuff his dad would randomly say, and his tweets went viral. People were eager for his next funny quote from his frank, earnest, and expletive-loving dad. Dads with an irreverent sense of humor are sure to appreciate this tale of a father-son relationship. Here are more funny Father’s Day gifts you can get delivered.
Father of the Bride by Edward Streeter
Both the classic Elizabeth Taylor/Spencer Tracy film Father of the Bride and its even more charming 1991 remake with Steve Martin and Kimberly Williams were based on this novel by Edward Streeter. Written in 1949, the book very much reflects the era and attitudes of the time. Still, it’s a timeless story of a father’s love for his daughter and his difficulty in letting her grow up. In this novel, George Banks, the put-upon dad, is tasked with paying for a wedding that quickly becomes a big to-do beyond his control. Any dad who’s been through planning a wedding with an adult child can relate to this book, and it’s a great gift for someone who wants to get an authentic feel for this period of history through the lens of a lighthearted tale.
How to Build a Boat: A Father, His Daughter, and the Unsailed Sea by Jonathan Gornall
This Father’s Day book is as much a celebration of the beauty of boats as it is a celebration of the beauty of the father-daughter relationship. It also shows the rewards of building with one’s hands, even with all the modern conveniences that largely make our lives separate from that kind of work. Dads who love boats or who love to build will especially appreciate this book.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This dark but unforgettable apocalyptic novel is anything but a light read, but dads who love Cormac McCarthy’s one-of-a-kind writing style will find themselves unable to put down this book. It follows the story of one man fighting for his survival and the survival of his child—something that leads him to make tough decisions. The Road was adapted into a film in 2009, and you may want to pair the film adaptation with the book. Check out these other hit movies that were books first.
Raised by Unicorns: Stories from People with LGBTQ+ Parents by Frank Lowe
This anthology, edited by Frank Lowe, highlights the importance of inclusivity and shows the strength of the parent-child bond. With a diverse mix of voices from multiple generations, from Baby Boomers through those in Generation Z, the “raw and unfiltered” essays will stay with you, making this a great book not just for non-traditional families but for all families. Here are more of the best LGBTQ+ books to read right now.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s masterpiece about race, gender, class, and justice centers on Atticus Finch, a small-town Alabama lawyer who is steeped in integrity. He’s also a devoted dad, and the story is told through the eyes of his child. He explains to his daughter why he took the case that is at the heart of the book, the defense of a Black man who has been unjustly accused of a crime. He says, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker
A must-read for dads of young daughters, this book draws on the author’s decades of experience as a doctor and teen-health expert. She explores how important it is for a young woman to have an active father figure in her life. Through her gentle, informative book, she shows dads how to be effective protectors and advice-givers to help empower their daughters to be strong and successful in our increasingly complex world.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
OK, this one may not be about fatherhood, per se, but if classic rock was the soundtrack of your childhood and your dad cranked up The Boss’ tunes in the car on family road trips, he’ll be thrilled to receive Springsteen’s critically acclaimed, best-selling memoir. It’s marked by the same endearing honesty that’s in his music, and it’s sure to make him smile. As Rob Sheffield put it in Rolling Stone, “Born to Run digs into how this most ostensibly down-to-earth of rock stars still seems so maddeningly mysterious, so unfathomably complex, still driving himself and his band to keep topping themselves night after night… It turns out Bruce Springsteen doesn’t quite understand [it] either. That’s why this book exists.”
Being a Dad Is Weird: Lessons in Fatherhood from My Family to Yours by Ben Falcone
Parenthood is weird, and there’s not a dad on the planet who hasn’t realized that at some point. Written by Ben Falcone, the writer/director of movies like Tammy and The Boss (and the husband of actress Melissa McCarthy), this book explores how his own childhood informs his choices as a dad. It also delves into what life is like as the father of two daughters and what it’s like to be the only guy in the house. Keep the laughs going with these funny Father’s Day memes all dads will find hysterical.
Father and Son by Edmund Gosse
Written by poet and critic Edmund Gosse, this memoir is considered to be a classic of early 20th-century literature. It follows Gosse’s upbringing with his authoritarian dad after his mother’s early death from cancer. Gosse struggled to find his way in his devoutly Plymouth Brethren home, and he had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he disagreed on important matters with his strict, deeply religious father. The book tackles many complex issues, and the account of his adolescence can be difficult to read. As Gosse himself says in the book, “This book is the record of a struggle between two temperaments, two consciences, and almost two epochs.” However, Gosse finds a way for these issues to coexist within the unconditional love between a father and son.
Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis
How different is the idea of fatherhood from what it’s actually like? Vastly different, according to author Michael Lewis. This useful, relatable book is sensitively told, yet it’s also unflinchingly honest. It was born from the guilt Lewis felt after experiencing a disconnect between what he thought he was supposed to be feeling and doing as a father and what was really going on in his day-to-day life. He eventually realized that he wasn’t the only father out there feeling this way, though no one talked about it. Dads who are looking for a refreshing, humorous dose of real talk about fatherhood will love this book. It’s also a great last-minute Father’s Day gift that he’ll never know you ordered late.
How Angel Peterson Got His Name: And Other Outrageous Tales About Extreme Sports by Gary Paulsen
Here’s a book that’ll make your dad laugh until he cries. Author Gary Paulsen is best known for Hatchet, the critically acclaimed winter-survival novel for teens, and his voice is just as strong in this book based on his own life. In it, he reveals his own hilarious anecdotes from his boyhood adventures in upper Minnesota, which include attempts to go down a waterfall in a barrel and break the world record for speed on skis. This creative memoir is an engaging, easy, and quick read. Dad will able to relate—and also remember what’s to come if he has boys of his own.
Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison
If your dad loves the intense, complex dramas, he’ll love this novella that the 1994 film Legends of the Fall was based on. It tells the epic story of a father’s love for his three sons and the tragedies that come when they defy him and go to war. It follows the aftermath and pain they endure as life takes some heartbreaking twists and turns. If he’s a film guy, these Father’s Day movies will tug at his heartstrings (and yours).
Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments by Mike Adamick
If the dad in your life loves science and the idea of bonding with his kids while doing fun, educational activities, this big book of experiments will be a hit. What kinds of experiments, you ask? According to the subtitle, we’re talking about everything from boiling ice and exploding soap to erupting volcanoes and launching rockets. Get ready for some good, old-fashioned (and possibly messy) fun!
Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard
This compelling New York Times bestseller is one of four books that the author wrote as part of his Seasons Quartet series. It opens with a letter that Knausgaard wrote to his unborn daughter about what she can expect from the world once she is born. Beautifully written and illustrated, Autumn is a personal encyclopedia that will provide inspiration and new perspective. You’re sure to find many heartwarming father-daughter quotes in it that will move you.
Let Her Fly: A Father’s Journey by Ziauddin Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai has made a huge impact on the world as a champion for education. A Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, she started her activism well before the tragedy that brought her worldwide fame. After she was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school, Malala recovered and returned to school with the same resolve and dedication to education she always had. In Let Her Fly, Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, tells the story of how he changed out of love for his daughter, breaking with tradition and becoming a feminist himself. It’s an inspiring story about a dad who wanted to empower his daughter and help her make a difference.
Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story by Max Apple
Written by critically acclaimed short story writer and novelist Max Apple, this autobiographical book is just as enchanting as his fictional works. In it, he tells the story of how his 103-year-old grandfather came to his rescue during a dark time. When Apple’s wife became ill, his grandfather helped him raise his son and daughter and taught them all a lot about healing and love along the way. This is a Father’s Day book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.
Many Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers
Who doesn’t love Mister Rogers? While you may know him for his eponymous children’s show, you may not know that he was also a tireless advocate for children and educational television. In Many Ways to Say I Love You, he shares some words of wisdom for parents that are equally valuable for both new dads and fathers with grown children. If you grew up watching Mister Rogers on television with your dad, it’s sure to bring up sweet memories for both of you.
Beartown by Frederik Backman
If you and your dad bond over sports, you’ll want to get him a copy of this book—and one for yourself, too! The title refers to the Bears of Beartown, a high school hockey team that’s striving for its day in the sun. They are the pride of their town, but their star player’s sense of entitlement and privilege just may ruin everything. This universal tale is all about the ties that bind people and communities together. As Backman says in the book, “Never trust people who don’t have something in their lives that they love beyond all reason.” It’s an especially good book to share with dads who are loved beyond all reason.