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Picture Books For Children Of Single Dads

By Harald Breiding-Buss

Stories have been a main way of teaching our children about their environment and human relationships from the time the human race developed language. They are an important way of transmitting our cultural values and teaching what’s normal and what isn’t.

There is a large range of children’s books for pre-schoolers available and by far the most have the mother-child relationship as a central theme: the mother as the person who helps sorting out a particular problem.

Fathers tend to play an only marginal role in children’s books – if present they are usually portrayed in their role as provider and partner to the mother.

This can be hard if you’re a single dad, because as far as these children’s books are concerned, you do not exist, and for your children the contrast between reality and the images children’s books or TV programmes convey may be confusing.

There are a few good books, however, about fathers and children that single dads will enjoy reading to their children.

The ones I have come across are all about fathers and sons, and they are all animal stories! Authors of children’s books apparently prefer bears to human males as role models for nurturing fathers.

Top of the list of such animal stories would be the two Big Bear -Little Bear books by Martin Waddell.

Both stories evolve around Big Bear alleviating some of Little Bear’s fears in a very fatherly way: by exposing Litte Bear to the unknown while at the same time providing protection and explanation. In “Let’s Go Home, Little Bear” the youngster is worried about all sorts of noises on the way home, while Big Bear explains every noise to him, while carrying him on the back.

In “Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear”, Little Bear is scared of the dark in the bear cave and even the biggest lantern that Big Bear can find cannot completely remove it, because there’s still the dark outside the cave.

So Big Bear takes Little Bear on his arms and carries him outside, exploring the beauty and mistery of the darkness – and Little Bear is soon fast asleep.

Also on the bear shelf is the Mr. Bear series by Debi Gliori with 10 or more titles, covering the whole age range of pre-schoolers.

Book titles starting with “Mr Bear says…” are for the very little ones, and some come with flaps or tabs to explore (for example: “Mr. Bear says: Are You There, Baby Bear?”). For the slightly older ones there is “Mr Bear to the Rescue” or “Mr Bear’s Picnic”, usually involving some mischievous boys from the Black Bear family as well.

Mr Bear is clearly madly in love with his baby bear, whom he never lets out of sight.

The two “Worried Arthur” books by Joan Stimson come closest to a single dad situation, although the characters are penguins.

In “Worried Arthur – The Birthday Party” little Arthur worries about finding the right idea for a successful party. He bounces every idea off his dad, but there is always something why it won’t work, until dad comes up with a “surprise party”.

The previous book, “Worried Arthur” plays on a similar theme, only that Arthur is worried this time that Santa Claus may not find him.

The only thing that worries me is that such books are so rare.

Next: Shared Parenting Bill – R.I.P.

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