As Father’s Day approaches, it is the perfect time to celebrate the fathers in our lives through pictures books. Yet many children do not see their own fathers reflected in the stories they read, and getting diverse books published – especially by diverse authors – is still an uphill battle. So it’s important to share those books that are available. Here are some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers that we have found. Do you have a favorite?
Disclosure: I received copies of My Papi Has a Motorcycle (English and Spanish versions) for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Multicultural Children’s Books About Fathers
Find below some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers, from those for very early readers to those for older children.
Baby Dance is for very young readers who love to move with their caregivers. This is a sweet board book about a baby and her daddy dancing around the room while her mother sleeps. I adore the illustrations, which seems to be motion themselves, gently swaying across the pages.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle (also available in Spanish as Mi papi tiene una moto) is a vibrant story about a girl and her father. No matter how tired he is, he always has time to take his daughter out for a spin when he gets home from work. Their motorcycle ride zooms through marvelous illustrations of a city that hums with life. Everywhere they go on their motorcycle ride, they see people and sights beloved to them, like the taquería or a friend’s house, the librarian that nods to them as he leaves the market. But there are also signs of change, as a favorite store has closed, and new homes replace the last of the citrus groves.
Award-winning author Isabel Quintero is herself the child of Mexican immigrants and has sweet memories of riding on the back of her own papi’s motorcycle as a child. So it is fitting that this book is available in both English and Spanish, and that even in the English version, the dialogue is given in English and Spanish, and many of the signs throughout the city are in Spanish. This book is intended as a love letter not only to hard working fathers but also to the communities that nurture us and what endures through all the changes that may come.
It’s Great Being a Dad is a really fun tribute to dads who are always there to “fix” things for their children. Although not specifically multicultural, I love that a book that is not about diversity features an African-American daughter and her father. This is one girl with a big imagination! She thinks through what would be great about being different mythical creatures – from a unicorn to the Loch Ness Monster – but always seems to find the fatal flaw (like how sad it would feel to have everyone call you a “monster”). I love that the girl (a self-described fairy queen ballerina doctor) is able to fix all these creatures’ problems, by doing a happy dance for the Loch Ness Monster, for instance. Yet when she has a problem of her own, it is her father that is able to set things right and restore peace to the kingdom/backyard.
I loved finding Father’s Chinese Opera because it is one of those books that really gives you a window into something most of us would normally never have the chance to experience – behind the scenes of a Chinese opera. A young boy, whose father is the band leader and composer of the opera, watches from the wings, desperate to join in the opera himself. Through his eyes we see the rehearsals and hard work that go into these spectacular performances, and the magic they create onstage. The boy is impatient to become an acrobat in the opera, and humiliated when he is laughed at for such an idea. Just a few quiet words from his father help the boy see that he must have patience and be willing to work hard to fulfill his dream.
What really brings this book to life is the fact that author Rich Lo is himself the child of a famous musician of the Chinese opera and sat in on many rehearsals and performances as a little boy. His father was forced to abandon this career when the family immigrated to the United States, so in many ways this book is a tribute to him and what he sacrificed to provide a better life for his children.
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads is a lovely collection of poems about dads and what makes them so special. Each celebrates a special time spent together, such as dancing, playing catch, or learning to ride a bike. But it also explores the difficult moments, like writing a letter to a dad serving overseas or being punished. This book quietly explores diversity in its many facets – not just through the varying skin tones but also the dads that stay at home rather than go to an office, or the dads that live far away. But what shines through in each instance is the love and security that each child feels with their father.
My Father’s Shop is often recommended as a book about learning about other cultures. A young boy in Morocco loves spending time in his father’s carpet shop, but he gets bored when his father tries to teach him phrases in other languages, which is useful in their business. Instead, the boy runs out to play in the market, but as it turns out, he meets plenty of tourists there, who teach him how to make animal noises in other languages – and they give his father’s shop extra business!
Visiting Day, from multi-award winning Jacqueline Woodson, tackles a subject rarely covered in picture books: a little girl visiting her father in prison. Based on her own experiences with a favorite uncle who was incarcerated, this heartfelt book captures the conflicting emotions a girl feels as she and her grandmother get up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare food and make the long trip to visit her father. It is a beautiful way to explore a situation many children find themselves in, and to emphasize that parents aren’t perfect, but we can still have loving relationships with them.
Papa and Me is another bilingual book about a loving relationship between father and child. In this instance, the text is primarily in English, with Spanish phrases sprinkled in, easily understood from context. I love the illustrations, which glow with joy. The author and illustrator both wanted to convey their own experiences as fathers and sons, and it definitely comes through in the loving relationship portrayed here.
What are your favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers?
This post is part of the My Papi Has a Motorcycle blog tour. Be sure to visit all the stops on the tour!
May 13 – Interpretations of a Bilingual Life – Rich linguistic, cultural background, and how teachers can use this book to talk about gentrification
May 14 – All Done Monkey – Multicultural Books for Father’s Days
May 15 – Breezy Bilingual – Classroom Activity
May 16 – Bilingual Speech Resources – Review + Personal Note
May 17 – Biracial Bookworms – Creative Instagram Picture
May 18 – Picturebookplaydate – Creative Instagram Picture