That’s what I always strove to be. I remember my father reading to me. He was a pediatrician and always seemed to be working, whether in the office or doing house calls at night. He tried to spend time with his children, but the moments were few and precious.
Reading was one of those special times. I remember resting my head against my father’s shoulder, feeling the starch of his white shirt and hearing the faint thump of his heartbeat while he read to me. Perhaps that is why the father-son relationship between Jake and his father in my latest book, The Islanders (Aladdin) rings so true to me as I wrote it.
In it, 11-year-old Jake is sent to spend the summer on tiny Dewees Island with his grandmother Honey; his mother is away tending to his father, who has been wounded in Afghanistan. At Honey’s house, Jake discovers not only shelves filled with his father’s childhood books, but his father’s old journal filled with nature drawings and personal feelings about life on the island. Jake feels closer to his dad reading them, and in return, begins writing daily entries not in a journal, but in the form of letters to his father in the hospital.
In the novel, as in life, a shared love of reading can forge a deep bond between parents and their children, even when parent and child are separated by distance, circumstance or time. I married a man who is a reader and have three children who love to read. Modeling is so important as parents and I’m grateful to my father for sharing with his children his love for reading.
In honor of him, and all fathers, I created a list of some of my favorite books that highlight special father-child relationships. Happy Father’s Day!