Four Gifts for Fathers

Photo of the front page of a spiral bound square book that my daughter has decorated. It reads !Fiesta! con Papa, and contains a drawing of a guitar. Two hands in the middle have the letters C and P on them. Other jagged strips of colored foam fill the page like confetti.

1. Klutz Build a Book: Why I Love My Dad ($12.95)

This gift is one a child gives his or her dad. Above, you see the cover of the book my 5-year-old daughter created last night. She’ll be working on one or two pages at bedtime each evening with her mom this week in preparation for Father’s Day.

She devised this cover on her own, writing “Party for Papa” in Spanish, in part because she attends a language immersion elementary school where she is learning a second language. She knows English obviously, finishing kindergarten testing at a sixth grade reading level. [/brag]

In the center of the cover are two foam hands with initials on them to signify her name and my name (P = Papa). She could have used background sheets contained in the kit to give the book cover a full-color background, but my wife tells me my daughter was quite clear on the point that she has other plans for those backgrounds. She has the whole book mapped out in her mind.

Photo showing all of the components of the kit layed out on a table.

Inside the kit you get:

  • A mostly blank 12-page spiral-bound book interspersed with tear-out pages containing suggestions for what to put on each page. By 12 pages I mean there are 12 surfaces to design on semi-thick paper.
  • Seven sheets of bisected double-sided background paper (each sheet has 4 designs) for gluing onto the pages.
  • Scads of glue-on foam shapes, symbols and googly eyes. Some shapes are designed to help you make images of people.
  • A bunch of colorful cardboard capital letters for gluing into the book.
  • A thin-and-fat tipped black pen and glue container. You are encouraged to use other crafty items around your home, from crayons to straws.

The non-blank pages have such things as a picture frame for drawing a picture of dad and specific subjects to write about, such as ‘Things I love to do with my Dad.” Most of the pages are blank though with suggested topics listed on removable pages – my dad’s favorite things, my dad can…, my dad’s favorite sayings, and so forth.

Photo of the interior of the book. One page contains suggestions on household items that can supplement the book's design. The other page contains a printed picture frame with an empty center for a drawing of the father to be created.

Having just completed our kindergarten year, I confess there aren’t many mementos I’ll be saving from class work (a TON of paperwork comes home every week), and a couple years later we no longer have preschool mementos.

School work is interesting to gauge developmental stages, but what really captures memories is this book where your child records how she sees the world at her age, and more importantly, what she thinks of Dad. I recommend it as an easy, self-contained memory kit. You can easily augment it if you want to expand with more crafty items or pens, crayons and so on.

Images of the books Things to Do with Dad and The Dads' Book.

2. Things to Do with Dad: Lots of Fun for Everyone ($10) by Chris Stevens


3. The Dads’ Book: For the Dad Who’s Best at Everything ($10) by Michael Heatley

These two hardcover titles are companions for the golden years of fatherhood – the elementary school years where you can engage in complex fun and learning activities (unlike toddlerhood) and your kid is totally into spending that time with Dad (unlike the teen years).

Things to Do with Dad is filled with about 60 activities in 136 pages, so 1 or 2 pages devoted to each topic. For example, you can ‘invent a secret handshake’ or ‘make paper helicopters’. Some of the ideas are old, some new. The feeling engendered by reading the book is to get going with having fun with your kids.

Meanwhile, The Dads’ Handbook is surprisingly good comedy. Like its companion, you get a new topic on just about every page you turn.

When I saw “How to avoid changing a dirty diaper” in the first few pages, I was prepared to cringe. A much overplayed and fairly demeaning depiction of dads — often perpetrated by dad authors and dad bloggers themselves — is of a father wearing a surgical mask and gloves while handling a diaper with BBQ tongs.

So I was delighted to instead read sophisticated, and true, humor:

“Let’s make no bones about it, changing a diaper isn’t in any way pleasant. But ask anyone with a child, and they will tell you, ‘It’s different when it’s your baby.’ They’re all liars. The only difference is that when it’s your own kid’s poop, you have to deal with it so often that you simply get used to it.”

After reading some cogent evasion techniques, such as offering to call your mother-in-law to update her on the latest family news (because you’re the first to realize the diaper is dirty)… the next page has a straight-forward account of how to change a diaper, only briefly padded at the beginning and end with a touch of humor.

The dad tips continue up through handling the first day of school, detailing low maintenance pets, surviving family vacations, and listing ‘ten things fathers wish they’d known.’

Again, the book is a curious mix of humor and dead-on good advice.

“I wish I’d learned how to balance the art of listening and the desire to solve. Don’t tell the children exactly the ‘right’ answer before they’ve finished telling their problem.’”

Yep, my daughter is exactly at that stage. When you know the answer before they’ve opened their mouth, it’s still quicker to sit their through a 2-minute question.

And how about this one? “I wish I’d known that a smile always helps.”

Image of the book, My Daddy and Me showing a girl sitting on her dad's lap as they move on a swing..

4. My Daddy and Me ($3.50) by Amy E. Sklansky  is an inexpensive paperback picture book for toddlers. There are a ton of these sort of books on the market, celebrating how a parent loves and cares for his or her child. So why are almost all of them about animal parents?

In 24 pages you see several fathers with their son or daughter on a picnic, raking leaves, playing at the beach or in the snow, and so forth. Each scene takes place outside and ends with the saying, “Whatever the weather, we go together.”

It’s on sale at the moment for $3.50, and so quite an easy choice.

Disclaimer: Review samples of these four gifts were provided to me by Scholastic because sometimes a guy just needs to pamper himself… especially if he knows he’s going to receive a haircut at the hands of a 5-year-old on Father’s Day.

Use the coupon code THING10 to obtain a $10 discount on purchases of $39 or more at the Scholastic Store. It’s valid through June 30, 2010. If any of these items fit your bill, umm, hello, it’s Scholastic.  They have gobs and gobs of children’s books.


5 Responses to “Four Gifts for Fathers”

  1. AJ says:

    It just occurred to me that none of these gifts fit the stereotypical recommendations for Father’s Day gifts — they’re not related to sports, BBQ, electronics, and other nonsense.

    Holy cow, a book titled “Daddy and Me”? It brings up an important distinction between types of fathering.

    A few years ago, when daddy bloggers were newsworthy, someone from the Washington Post asked me, “What’s your idea of a good Father’s Day gift?”

    I responded by naming several toys and saying, “Parenting lets me relive my childhood through my daughter, so these things are as much for me as they are for her.”

    It’s a valid point, but I’d rephrase it today. A child is your greatest investment. When toys and educational materials come into your home, do you feel a greater sense of satisfaction about that then you do a gift that is solely oriented toward your own personal use? Father’s Day really isn’t about fathers.

    June 15th, 2010 at 11:20 am

  2. Jennifer says:

    Neat Fathers’ Day picks!

    “why are almost all of them about animal parents”?

    I suspect it’s the same reason so many kids’ books feature animals in any number of situations: you don’t have to touch on the race issue, since none of the characters belongs to the HUMAN race. Problem solved.

    Interestingly, Amazon has 3 books listed named “My Daddy and Me.” One is about bears, one is about dogs, and the third is the one you’ve listed here… about actual, hands-on human dads.

    Kudos on your dad-hood, and keep up the great blog!

    June 15th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

  3. anjii says:

    I love this… for the last 3 years, my boys have given my hubby a daddy themed book for Father’s Day. I’ve chosen the gifts, with the boy’s help, and I chose them specifically for the reason of having some books that can ONLY be read with Daddy (who does his best, but is a bit of a bibliophobe). He generally only likes to read books like Richard Scarry, “Cars and Trucks and things that go” and other “look and find” type books, rather than story books. But he’d rather skip book time altogether and take the “pray, talk and snuggle” part of the routine.

    Anyways, the 3 books he’s been gifted are all animal (assuming Little Critter counts as an animal, lol!) daddy and sons.

    June 16th, 2010 at 12:34 am

  4. nrbp says:

    My son is really, really into ties right now and is insisting on gifting his father a tie for Father’s Day. He’s very excited about this!

    For making our own books, we love:

    June 16th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

  5. nrbp says:

    Sheesh! make that:

    June 16th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

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