Tag Archives: books about building

Father's Day Books for Dads and Their Sons

Father’s Day Books for Dads and Their Sons


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Did you know that dads play a critical role in their children’s literacy development? Studies show that boys are more likely to read when they see their fathers reading recreationally, and boys whose fathers read aloud to them score higher in reading achievement. Reading together is great father-son bonding time. To celebrate Father’s Day (or any day), grab one of these sweet reads and cozy up with your mini-you. And if you’re a mom reading this list, these titles make great Dad’s Day gifts!

Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley

Keith Negley's Tough Guys

Keith Negley is an illustrator turned children’s book author. Not surprisingly, the pictures in this book say so much more than the text. Use them to start a conversation with your son, and help disrupt conventional ideas about masculinity.

 Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales

This is a book about that fine line between being yourself and following in the footsteps of your parents. It’s especially perfect for a child who needs to grow into his name or who feels the weight of being a Junior. Budlong and Ashman were delighted at the alternate names the narrator suggests for himself, and Morales’ illustrations are stunning.

I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doin’ Work by Doyin Richards

I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doin' Work

This book celebrates the many ways fathers play a role in their children’s lives—cuddling, styling hair, rough-housing, potty-training, etc. Beautiful photos catch fathers of all colors and ethnicities in action.

Mighty Dads by Joan Holub and James Dean

books to read for father's day

Father and son construction vehicles work alongside each other in this book. My boys like the rhyme, repetition, and cute kid names like little Vator, Dozy, Grady, and Hoe-Hoe. Scholastic offers free printable Mighty Dads activities so your child can create a father’s day card, complete a maze, or do a matching exercise after reading.

Building with Dad by Carol Nevius and Bill Thomson

Building with Dad

Can you tell my boys are into building? Dad takes his son along to a construction site in this book with rhyming text and amazing illustrations. The ant’s eye view makes you feel like you’re right there with them. If you like the style of this author/illustrator team, check out Karate Hour and Baseball Hour next.

Dad’s Bald Head by Paul Many and Kevin O’Malley

Dad's Bald Head

Budlong and Ashman can definitely relate to the dad in this book who decides to shave off what little hair he has left on his head. While it takes some getting used to, the son realizes being bald doesn’t change who his dad is or how much he loves him.

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein and Tom Jellett

My Dad Thinks He's Funny by Katrina Germein

Even if you have your own set of eye-roll inducing dad jokes, you’re bound to pick up a few more in this book.  And when I say, “Dad, I don’t want to,” he says, “Okay, then…Do you want three?”

Just the Two of Us by Will Smith and Kadir Nelson

This book pairs the lyrics to Will Smith’s 1997 song with gorgeous pictures from one of my favorite illustrators. Nothing like exposing your kids to the “golden oldies”…sigh.

Daddy, Papa, and Me by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson

This is a sweet book about a boy lucky enough to have two dads to play with him. While I’m a huge fan of the true story of two male penguin fathers, And Tango Makes Threeit’s refreshing to find a book that shows the variations of human families.

My Dad Used to Be so Cool by Keith Negley

Keith Negley's My Dad Used to Be So Cool

Oh Keith Negley, I used to be so cool too, and now I write a mom blog. Parents will completely relate to how this dad’s pre-child life is almost unrecognizable after his son comes along. But would we want it any other way?

Pages from My Dad Used to Be So Cool


Day 7 Book Giving

Book Giving Day 7: Make Way for the Makers


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It’s day 7 of “The 12 Days of Book Giving“!  Carolers, take a deep breath and sing with me…

6 Award-Winning Books


4 Children’s Book Clubs

3 Gift of Nothing’s

2 Homemade Audiobooks

and an Almost Empty Box!


Book Giving Idea #7

After putting the last ornaments on our Christmas tree Sunday night, Ashman and I cozied up by our fireplace. “Budlong, do you want to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas with us?” I asked.

And Budlong replied, “No thanks. I already know how he did it.”

HA! If that’s not indicative of why and how boys read, I don’t know what is! Michael Sullivan, author of Raising Boy Readers, explains that boys take “the Home Depot approach to life… Help me understand how the world works, why the problem exists in the first place, and how I can manipulate things to make them better.”  Sounds like Budlong. And his dad. Why not appeal to this interest by giving a how-to book this holiday season?

Luckily, a huge “maker” movement is happening right now.  More and more publishers are supporting budding engineers, scientists, inventors, and artists with how-to books. Here are just a few book/gift combos for the mini-makers in your life:

Wrap up the book Recycled Science by Tammy Enz with a grab bag of craft sticks, cardboard tubes, plastic jugs, wooden clothespins, corks, and rubber bands. The Dollar Store or local craft store is your best bet for some of these, but you can also start saving your recyclables from now until Christmas!  Some of the experiments require use of heat or sharp objects, so plan on supervising your maker. (Ages 9-15)

Maker How-to Book

Bridges!: Amazing Structures to Design, Build and Test by Carol A. Johmann,Elizabeth J. Rieth, Michael Kline Kline –Another book to pair with your recyclables for a budget-friendly gift. Craft sticks and straws will also be handy. This one is for the kid who’s truly interested in the why and how of bridge design(Ages 7-14)

How-to book Bridges

Kids’ Paper Airplane Book by Ken Blackburn and Jeff Lammers –Imagine the look on your future aerospace engineer’s face when he gets this book AND an entire ream of printer paper. The sky’s the limit! (Ages 5 and up)

Maker How-to Books

Fun with Fingerprints Series (Animals, Bugs, Characters, and Vehicles) by Bobbie Nuytten –Give a washable ink pad and one of these books of stamp-by-stamp directions for creating works of art. Labeled preK-1 reading level, but the outlining that makes these designs come to life requires a little more dexterity than my kindergartner has! (Ages 5 and up)

How-to book Fingerprint Animals

Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet (ok, not quite a how-to book, but experiential nonetheless). By interacting with the book, young readers learn the how-to of color mixing.  Wrap up the book with a set of finger paints or food coloring droppers. You could follow this up with the fictional Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. (Ages 3-6)

Maker How-to Books

I hope you’ve been inspired by at least one book giving idea this past week.  What will your true love get from you on the eighth day of book giving? Come back tomorrow to find out!

Featured image based on "Presents" by Andrew Butitta, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Day 1 of 12 Book Giving

Book Giving Day 1: An Almost Empty Box


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Woohoo!!! It’s finally here: Day 1 of my blog series “The 12 Days of Book Giving”!!!

Each day you’ll get an inspiring way to give a book to a child during the holidays.

Have you ever noticed that children are often more amused with the packaging than the presents, especially big cardboard boxes? A box so big you can climb inside is no longer a box.  It’s a vehicle, or a shelter, or a portal to another world.  When you give an empty box, you give the gift of imagination, creativity, and possibility. The same could be said of giving a book. Continue reading


5 books that will inspire your kids to build, create, and invent this summer


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School is out and I’m noticing a lot of people pinning a summertime checklist that goes something like this:

No screentime unless / All the screentime you want if you…

read for 20 minutes

write a paragraph or solve a math problem

do something creative for 40 minutes

People, please.  I do not pretend to have all the answers, but something is not right with the universe if we are making reading, writing, math, and creativity the CHORES and screentime the REWARD.

One thing that seems to be working in our house is a daily-allotted, finite amount of screentime.  The boys know they have 60 minutes a day (usually they break that down as two 25 minute shows and 10 minutes of video games, but it’s flexible).  They can blow it all the minute they wake up in the morning or space it out across the day, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. Of course, enforcing this requires some willpower on my end.  It would be oh-so-easy to give in to just one more show and 20 more minutes of peace. And some days I do.

The other thing that works is reading great books that inspire spontaneous extensions in math, writing, and creativity.  When you find the right books for your kids, you don’t have to bribe them with screentime to get them to read.  Here are five of our favorites, why I love them, and how to use them this summer to get your kids building, creating, and inventing: Continue reading