13 Children’s Books featuring families with two dads

As we come to the end of June and Pride month, we wanted to take some time to highlight several children’s books featuring families with gay dads. We believe it is important to read and expose our children to books that reflect the diversity (in all senses) of the world we live in. It is also important for children from LGBTQ+ families to see their families reflected in the books they read. Although we do not yet have a box specifically for gay dads (we’re working on it!), we do make sure the books we choose are inclusive.  

Here are 10 children’s books featuring families with gay dads that we have read, enjoyed, and highly recommend:

  1. Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown. Mother’s Day is coming up, and Stella is worried because she doesn’t have a mom – she has Daddy and Papa. All of her other classmates have moms, and Howie even has two moms! Stella’s classmates are curious and ask her who packs her lunches or comforts her when she hurts herself if she doesn’t have a mom. Stella tells them that her dads do it and that that’s not the problem : the problem is she doesn’t know whom to bring to school for Mother’s Day. Her solution is funny, heartwarming, and touching.

2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Patterson, illustrated by Henry Cole. Based off a true story. Roy and Silo are two penguins living in the Central Park Zoo in NYC. They form a bond, and with the help of the zookeeper, Mr. Gramsay, Roy and Silo are given a penguin egg. When the egg hatches and a female penguin chick pops out, their family is complete! The zookeepers tenderly call the baby penguin chick “Tango”; hence, the title, “And Tango Makes Three.”

3. Bathe the Cat by Alice McGinty, illustrated by David Roberts. As with children’s books featuring African American children, it’s important to read books about two-dad or two-mom families in everyday situations, whose plotlines don’t revolve around the fact that the family has two dads or two moms. That’s what I love about “Bathe the Cat,” which is a hilarious children’s picture book about a family (that just happens to have two African-American dads) getting the house clean for Grandma’s visit. One of the tasks is to bathe the cat, but the cat is clever and constantly rearranges the refrigerator letter magnets to dictate the chores that need to be done – with absurd and hilarious results! Our six-year-old loved this book!

4. Families Can by Dan Saks. “Families Can” celebrates the diversity of different families: those with two dads, those with one parent, those with a mom and dad, multigenerational families. It teaches us, in gentle rhyming form, that each family is special and unique, yet at the same time similar and connected by love.

5. Papa, Daddy, and Riley by Seamus Kirst, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth. Riley loves her two dads! But when her classmate asks her which one is her real dad, she is confused. They’re both her real dads. This beautifully illustrated story is a sweet lesson showing the many different ways one can be a family.

6. The Purim Superhero by Elisabeth Kushner, illustrated by Mike Byrne. Noah wants to dress up as an alien for Purim, but all his friends are going as superheroes. What to do?! Daddy and Abba, his dads, help him find a creative solution and Noah learns an important lesson from them: “Sometimes showing who you really are makes you stronger – even if you’re different from other people.”

7. The Adventures of Honey and Leon by Alan Cumming, illustrated by Grant Shaffer. Honey and Leon are two shelter dogs who have been adopted by a loving couple. The dogs enjoy protecting their dads, but miss them when they (the dads) go away on long business trips. So, one day, Honey and Leon decide to tail their dads on their business trip to Paris! Little do the dads know, Honey and Leon keep them out of harm’s way during their time in Paris. The dogs are able to keep a low profile until the big night!

8. My Dads and Me, How Lucky are We by Cheramy Hassen, illustrated by Sergio Drumond. This is a story of a little girl who is adopted by two loving dads. The message is this book is an important one: families may look different, but what makes a family a family is love.

9. My Two Dads and Me by Michael Joosten, illustrated by Izak Zenou. Follow different dad families and their children as they go about their day, eating breakfast, getting dressed, playing in the park, having fun at bathtime, and singing a good night lullaby.

10. The Girl with Two Dads, written and illustrated by Mel Elliott. Pearl meets a new girl at her school, Matilda, and finds out that Matilda has two dads. After spending some time with them, though, she discovers that Matilda’s family isn’t so much different from her own!

11. My Dad is a Clown/ Mi Papá es un Payaso by José Carlos Andrés, illustrated by Natalia Hernandez. The main character in this book, a young boy, has two dads – one who is a doctor, and the other who is a clown. When one of his classmates angrily calls the little boy a clown, his doctor dad takes the little boy with him to the other dad’s work and they see what he does during the day. The little boy realizes that his two dads have the most important jobs: one heals the body, the other heals the soul. As with several of the other books mentioned above, this one is laudable in that its plot focuses not on the two dad family, but on a little boy learning about the importance of his parents’ work.

12. Adventures with My Daddies by Gareth Peter, illustrated by Garry Parsons. A book that celebrates the power of the imagination! As a little girl reads bedtime stories with her dads, the stories come to life and they encounter dragons, run away from dinosaurs, fly to the moon, and take a hot air balloon ride before settling down for the night.

13. Harriet Gets Carried Away, written and illustrated by Jessie Sima. Harriet loves dressing up in costumes. She even has a special costume prepared for her birthday party! But when she puts on her penguin errand-running costume to find something for her special day, she runs into real penguins and is literally carried away to their home. She must find her way back to her dads in time for her special day. Can she make it? Read the book and find out!

10 Diverse Children’s Books about Dads

Race and racism has been a topic at the forefront of most people’s thoughts recently, especially in the light of the protests following George Floyd’s tragic death. Those of us with children may be trying to figure out a way to talk to our children about race, if we haven’t yet had this conversation. To help, many news outlets and blogs have been publishing lists of children’s book recommendations to help introduce and explain racism and African American history to children.

While we understand and acknowledge the importance of these types of books, we understand that it’s also important to read books about African American children and adults in every day situations, not only in books that specifically discuss race or African American history. It’s important for African American children to see themselves in books outside of anti-racism and African American history books, and it’s important for non-African American children as well. Think: Ezra Keats’ “The Snowy Day,” which features an African American boy and his adventures in the snow.

On that note, our recommendations feature a mix of books specifically geared towards educating children about African American history and racism, and books about every day life. Furthermore, since our work involves supporting dads, almost all of the books below feature African American (or Canadian) dads and their children.

We hope you check out some of these books, and please feel free to pass this list on to anyone who might be interested!

  1. My Daddy, Martin Luther King Jr./ By Martin Luther King III, Illustrated by AG Ford. One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous quotes is, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” However, what do we know of Martin Luther King Jr.’s children, and what do we know about what Martin Luther King Jr. was like as a father? Martin Luther King III, one of the children mentioned in his dad’s “I Have a Dream” speech, answers these questions in this dad-themed history book.

2. Antiracist Baby / by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. If you want to raise an activist from Day One, we recommend this book! It’s also a great way to introduce anti-racist concepts to your child.

3. Rosa: My First Rosa Parks/ Little People, Big Dreams series/ by Lisabeth Kaiser / illustrated by Marta Antelo. Although this book isn’t dad-themed, it’s also a good way to introduce your child to the history of racism, via one of the most prominent civil rights activists of the 1960s. This book is also a good starting point to discuss race.

4. My Daddy Rules the World / written and illustrated by Hope Anita Smith. We previously recommended this book in another post, but it bears mentioning again. This book celebrates everyday moments between fathers and their children, from bike-riding to wrestling matches to bedtime snuggles. Each quiet paper-cut illustration is accompanied by a poem. This is a lovely book that will help diversify any child’s bookshelf.

5. The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan/ illustrated by Tom Knight. A universal struggle that any parent and child can relate to! This little girl does not want to sleep in her own bed, so, like any smart toddler, she decides to give her dad his own bed: a cot!

6. Jabari Jumps written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall

This one is a favorite at the Rad Dad house! (Although, due to the price of the book, we haven’t included it in our boxes.) Jabari goes to the pool with his dad and little sister. He wants to jump off the high dive, but when his turn comes, he finds every reason to procrastinate. His dad helps him overcome his fears, and Jabari heads for the diving board! As someone who hasn’t been on the high dive since the age of eight, I can say that all of us could use encouragement from a dad like Jabari’s. This book is perfect summertime and Rad Dad read.

7. You See, I See: In the City by Michelle Sinclair Colman/ illustrated by Paul Schmid. This sweet and simple book was included in our February 2020: Explore box. Colman and Schmid take us through a dad and daughter’s day out in the city, exploring it from their different perspectives: “You see big skyscrapers / I see morning papers.” Babies especially will love the minimalist illustrations (ours does!), and the most important message is that, in spite of their differing views, “In all the places that we see / I love you and you love me.”

8. Clean Up, Up, Up! by Ellen Mayer / illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu. Those of you who are familiar with Maria Montessori’s work will enjoy this book, as it’s a realistic book that teaches practical life skills: cleaning up after oneself! We also enjoy it as it features a loving father figure and diverse family in an every day setting. (Spoiler alert: we will probably be including this book in a box later this year!) We also recommend checking out the companion book, A Fish to Feed, featuring the same father-daughter duo.

9. Daddy’s Mini-Me by Arnold Henry/ Illustrated by Ted M. Sandiford. By Instagram Dad sensation Arnold Henry, this is another book that, due to its cost, didn’t make it into our boxes. A proud dad cheers on his son’s developmental milestones as he grows, and showing us how important a dad’s presence is in a child’s life.

10. Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley/ illustrated by E.B. Lewis. It’s Miles’ first visit to the barbershop, and he’s scared. However, with gentle encouragement from his dad (and chocolate milk!), Miles is able to overcome his fear and decide on what kind of cut he would like. We love this book for its beautiful, realistic watercolor illustrations and the caring father figure.

11. Honorable mention: Papa, do you love me? by Barbara Joosse/ illustrated by Barbara Lavallee. A follow-up to the best-selling “Mama, do you love me?” this beautifully illustrated book is set in Africa among the Maasai culture.

Though this is by no means a comprehensive list, we hope that it gives you some ideas for diverse dad additions to your children’s bookshelf! Do you have a favorite book featuring a diverse dad that we didn’t mention? Please leave it in the comments below!