Together, we have covered some heavy, yet essential topics related to being a Rock Solid father. It is my desire to balance these topics with others that present the same practicality, but with a lighter tone. The Dad’s Toolbox series, as I am calling it, will consist of some tips, tricks, and resources “of the trade” that I have gathered over the years. These tools come from my readings, research, and from brushing shoulders with other fathers like yourself. To give a feel of how the toolbox series might look, I introduce you to our first tool: bedtime stories.
I doubt that I even need to share the importance of reading to children, especially during the earlier years of their development. Just in case- It’s very important. With that out of the way, here is a small list of some bedtime stories for various ages that you might consider checking out at the library the next time you are in town. I have also provided a short synopsis of each book, just so you know what your getting into.
1) Love You Forever. Written by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw.
I may have a bias on this one, as it is the book that my mother used to read the most to me when I was a kid. The story follows the life of a young boy as he grows up over the years. His mother continues to rock him and sing a special lullaby that he, as he becomes a man, sings to her in her old age. Finally, he passes on the tradition when he sings to his child as a new father. The lullaby is catchy; the book is a classic.
2) Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch. Written by Trinka Hakes Noble, illustrated by Tony Ross.
I think you will enjoy this story as much as your children will. It follows a husband as he goes about his every day sort of business, all while the wife is experiencing unbelievably good fortune. The irony in their contrasting experiences is what makes the story engaging. This is one of those books that leave you thinking, “yeah, that’s a winner.”
3) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This is a chapter book. The Chronicles of Narnia series, of which this is the first book, is one of the best examples of writing meant to appeal to child and parent simultaneously. It is simple and adventurous enough to keep a child engaged, but we as fathers can appreciate the deeper messages hidden within. The first book follows the experiences of four siblings as they stumble upon a fantasy world found in the back of a wardrobe (think coat closet) as its mythological residents prepare for the return of their benevolent king and the long-awaited restoration of the kingdom. If you find yourself liking this book (as you probably will), keep going, the whole series is worth the time investment.
4) Hello, Lighthouse. Written by Sophie Blackall
I recommend showing the pictures for this one. I still can’t believe how much story you get with so short of a book. You’ll see what I mean as you read it. Within, we get a brief description of a light keeper’s experiences on the job, share in a few touching moments, and then say goodbye to the lighthouse as the keeper is replaced by new technology. Though this may not sound like the makings of a good book, the book as a whole is so well put together that you can’t help but feel drawn into the light keeper’s beautiful, yet simple world.
5) Aesop’s Fables. Illustrated by Charles Santore.
I’m cheating with this one. Aesop’s fables, as the title suggests, is actually multiple short stories with the purpose of conveying a concise philosophical thought. Some are better than others, but if you want to know where we get a lot of our sayings and illustrations from, look no further. The Lion and the Mouse, The Hare and the Tortoise, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing- you will find them here. Not only are the stories memorable, but they are short (like a paragraph or two).
6) Don’t Push the Button. Written and illustrated by Bill Cotter
This one is for the younger kids. It lets them interact with the book itself by telling them to and not to push the button on the page. It’s clever, and brief. You can read this over and over again with a smirk on your face every time. I believe that the best kind of bedtime book is one that you can read a hundred times without losing your mind. This is one of those books.
7) Guess How Much I Love You. Written by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram.
It’s a feel-good book about a father hare and son hare creatively sharing their love for each other. You can’t go wrong with this one.
8) If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Written by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond.
If you didn’t have this book read to you as a child, you have been missing out. The book engages the audience by taking them through a ludicrous chain of events that all stem from the simple catalyst of giving a mouse a cookie. My kids love this one as much as I did when I was their age.
Bonus: While I was refreshing my memory on some good bedtime stories, I came across two resources that I thought were worth sharing. If the idea of well known celebrities reading bedtime stories for children intrigues you, check out Cbeebies bedtime stories on Youtube and Storyline Online (https://www.storylineonline.net). I’m talking bedtime stories read by James Earl Jones, Kevin Costner, Tom Hardy, and Betty White. This is top-notch stuff.