Daddy’s girl.  

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! 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle  

This classic novel involves Meg Murray and her brother Charles Wallace in search of their missing father, a brilliant scientist.  The connection between the children and their father is beautifully defined and is central to the story.

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Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

At the story’s onset, we know that Harry has lost his parents, but they are a deeply embedded presence in his life. His connection with them gives him the strength he needs at his lowest points.

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Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

The Robinson family are castaways on an uncharted island, but under the firm yet loving guidance of the father, the family not only survives but thrives.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri

This beloved children’s book is mentioned in The Islanders, and I included the round window to create the same ambiance for Jake.  Heidi is an orphan sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Like Jake and Honey, their relationship grows as they help one another. I love this story of a young girl’s devotion to her grandfather. 

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Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie

At the story’s beginning, Wendy’s relationship with her father is fraught with tension as Mr. Darling declares she must leave the nursery. Yet the poor man comes to eat his words when, at last, Wendy returns home. Their love for one another is clear, as is Wendy’s decision to grow up. 

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Crossover by Kwame Alexander

This Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning middle-grade bestseller is the realistic story of the father, a famous basketball player, and his son, Josh, who knows he “needs his own wings to fly ” and in order to become “Da Man.”

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The Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

This book is a powerful and moving tale of how a runt pig fills the gap in a woman’s heart left by the passing of her father.

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