40 Books for Dads to Read to Their Kids

Strong father figures, adventures, humor, and general fun await!

40 books for DADS to read to their kids: fantasy, realistic fiction, historical fiction. Humor, adventure, coming-of-age, thought-provoking, silly…. there’s a little something for every dad on this list.

This list represents some of the Redeemed Reader team’s favorite books for dads to read to their kids, but do not miss the comments. We resisted adding some of those to the new list; it’s like getting two lists in one!

Recommended age ranges in parentheses reflect recommended listening level, but many are appropriate read alouds for a wide variety of ages.

 [note: this post originally appeared on March 26, 2015; updated on June 15, 2020]

40 Books for Dads to Read to Their Kids

Lulu and the Duck in the Park  by Hilary McKay.  Funny, realistic fiction adventures for animal lovers. See our review. Ages 4-10.

Anna Hibiscus Series  by Atinuke. Contemporary African realistic fiction. See also The No. 1 Car Spotter series. See our review. Ages 4-10.

My Father’s Dragon  by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Elmer stows away to find a captive dragon in this gentle fantasy. Ages 4-10.

Henry Huggins  by Beverly Cleary. A boy, a dog, and funny adventures. Realistic fiction. Ages 4+.

Freddy the Pig  by Walter Brooks. Animal adventures for the whole family! Ages 6+.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever  by Barbara Robinson. Hilarious modern classic. See our discussion. Ages 7+.

The Penderwicks  by Jeanne Birdsall. Warm fuzzies all around, especially for dads and their daughters. Realistic fiction. See our review. Ages 7+.

The Vanderbeekers  by Karina Yan Glaser. A brownstone and its lovable family. See our review. Ages 7+.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  by Roald Dahl. Better than the movie(s)! Also a good one for grandfathers to read. Ages 7+.

The One and Only Ivan  by Katherine Applegate. A gorilla, an elephant, a dog, a girl, … and some paint. See our review. Ages 7+.

Encyclopedia Brown  by Donald Sobol. The famed boy sleuth. See our review. Ages 7+.

Circus Mirandus  by Cassie Beasley. A boy and his grandfather and a shared secret. See our review. Also recommended: The Bootlace MagicianAges 7+.

The Dangerous Journey  by Oliver Hunkin. The best Pilgrim’s Progress adaption! Ages 7+.

By the Great Horn Spoon  by Sid Fleischman. A rollicking good Gold Rush adventure. See our review. Ages 7+.

The Great Brain  by John D. Fitzgerald. Old-fashioned humorous adventures. Ages 8+.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  by Ian Fleming. A car like no other! The updated series by Frank Cottrell Boyce is also fun. Ages 8+.

The Hobbit  by J. R. R. Tolkien. Adventure, a dragon, elves, and hobbits.  For older kids, keep going with The Lord of the Rings. Ages 8+.

Caddie Woodlawn  by Carol Ryrie Brink. Classic frontier adventures. See our review. Ages 8+.

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles. A literal race against time for two intrepid, legendary sleuths. See our review. Ages 8+.

The Black Stallion  by Walter Farley. A boy, a horse, survival, hard work, and a race! Ages 8+.

Three Terrible Trins  by Dick King-Smith. Three mice and shenanigans. Ages 8+.

Sign of the Beaver  by Elizabeth George Speare. New England frontier adventures. Ages 8+.

The Season of Styx Malone  by Kekla Magoon. Styx Malone is a character like no other. Note language cautions in our review. Ages 10+.

We’re Not From Here  by Geoff Rodkey. Fast-moving and fun sci-fi. See our review. Ages 10+.

Little Britches  by Ralph Moody. Hardship builds a relationship between a boy and his father. See our review. Ages 10+.

Save Me a Seat  by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarjan. Two boys learn that snap judgments aren’t always accurate. See our reviewAges 10+.

Rascal  by Sterling North. If you find a baby racoon, will he make a good pet? Ages 10+.

How to Eat Fried Worms  by Thomas Rockwell. If you make a bet to eat worms, then…. Ages 10+.

The Cave  by Richard Church. 5 boys discover a cave and, naturally, set off to explore…. Ages 10+.

The Great Greene Heist  by Varian Johnson. A con novel full of good, clean fun. See our review. Ages 10+.

A Wrinkle in Time  by Madeleine L’Engle. A sci-fi classic! See our review. Ages 10+.

The 100 Cupboards  by N. D. Wilson. A boy, an attic, and 100 cupboards that lead to other worlds. See our review. Ages 10+.

Ghetto Cowboy  by G. Neri. A horse and his boy … in the inner city. See our review. Ages 12+.

The Yearling  by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. A boy and his deer and a coming-of-age decision. Ages 12+.

The Ruins of Gorlan  by John Flanagan. Medieval-esque adventure, Robin Hood and King Arthur style. See our review. Ages 12+.

The Eagle of the Ninth  by Rosemary Sutcliffe. Roman-occupied Britain; so much better than the movie! Ages 12+.

The Monster Blood Tattoo  by D. M. Cornish. Fantasy with complex characters and world-building. See our review. Ages 12+.

Peace Like a River  by Leif Enger. Relationships, an outlaw brother, and miracles. Ages 14+.

To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee. A real classic with plenty of “discussion starters.” Ages 14+.

True Grit  by Charles Portis. Raw with plenty of heart, this is a modern classic. See our (movie) review. Note: the book has plenty of language.

What books would you add to this list?

(Fellowship Members: Watch for this list as a printable on your Free Printables page!)

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Betsy Farquhar

Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Southeast.

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  1. Margaret on March 27, 2015 at 6:42 am

    I’d add Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, and (most of) the books following.

    It’s long, and many find the beginning a bit slow. When I read it to my kids, we almost gave up on it, but once it clicked, there was no stopping us: we went on and read the rest of the series, all 11 of them, one right after the other. (Ages 8-9 and up.)

  2. J Penn on March 27, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Where the Red Fern Grows

    • Chad on February 28, 2022 at 1:24 pm

      J Penn, it should be on every list for parents to read to kids. Should be near the top of the list. Just finished reading it to my 9yo son. I still cried even thouhg I’ve read it at least 7 times.

  3. Paul Boekell on March 27, 2015 at 7:10 am

    The Green Ember by S.D. Smith (on Amazon… If not sold out).

    Let’s just say one thing, Rabbits With Swords!

    Seriously though… A great book about the goodness of beauty and the beauty of good all wrapped up in a story about some really cool rabbits who’s world is turned upside down and they have to navigate that as a family and as individuals and as a community. Couldn’t recommend it enough.

  4. Paula on March 27, 2015 at 7:29 am

    The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

    • Aryn The Libraryan ? on August 25, 2020 at 8:05 am

      A lot of favorite books already here. I would add The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series. Biblical fiction /time travel!

  5. Carol on March 27, 2015 at 8:15 am

    The Chronicles of Narnia

  6. Dave Long on March 27, 2015 at 8:22 am

    I would strongly recommend The Secret World of Og, by Pierre Burton. Out of print now, but still available on-line.

    My kids loved it and still ask me to read it even through they are in their teens.


  7. Betsy Farquhar on March 27, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Great suggestions! I’ve not read Swallows and Amazons, but that’s one of those books/series I have on my TBR (to be read) list because I keep hearing similar recommendations.

  8. Valerie on March 27, 2015 at 9:06 am

    An absolute MUST is “Summer of the Monkeys” by Wilson Rawls. This book is, unfortunately, not often known, but it has so may redeeming qualities! The best part is the great relationship between the boy and his grandfather and also some side-splittingly, funny parts. We have read this book out loud three or four times and LOVE it!!

  9. Lynn Aucoin on March 27, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I have to add The Good Master and The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy. The father in these books is kind, compassionate, strong, and brave– a true picture of godliness. We loved these books!

  10. Janette on March 27, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Redwall (actually, the entire series is great) by Brian Jacques. We (Mom and Dad) took turns reading out loud on a car trip and everyone loved it! We finished up the series reading by flashlight by the fire pit. Seems to be well loved by younger kids, older readers, teens and adults alike!

  11. Drew on March 27, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    anything by Sid Fleischman.

  12. David Axberg on March 27, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    The Wing Feather Saga by Andrew Peterson & 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson, These could be for a slightly older crowd

  13. Diana on March 27, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    I’d add three books: Wilson Rawl’s Summer of the Monkeys and Where the Red Fern Grows as well as Old Yeller by Fred Gipson.

  14. Theresa on March 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black

  15. Lori M on March 27, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    A second vote for The Green Ember by S.D. Smith.

  16. Naomi on March 27, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    The Crown and Covenant trilogy by Douglas Bond! So good!!!

  17. Wiliam M. on March 27, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I highly recommend “The Coral Island” by R.M. Ballantyne, and its sequel, “The Gorilla Hunters” by the same author. It had my brother and I laughing out loud at the hilarious parts, and encouraged by the wisdom contained in them as well.


  18. Tim S on March 28, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Mistmantle Chronicles – M.I. McAllister

  19. Alice Herrick on March 29, 2015 at 6:50 am

    I would put Jenny L Cote’s books at the top of the list! It is a series called “The Epic Order of the Seven” and the first book is “The Ark The Reed and The Fire Cloud” All here books are excellent.

  20. Angela on March 31, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers. First in the series is the Bark of the Bog Owl. Fabulous stories.

  21. George Whitten Jr. on January 8, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    “Rascal” and “The Hobbit” bring back fond memories of my father reading aloud to all 5 children together. More recently, I discovered an ideal addition to Betsy’s list. “I’ll Fly My Own Plane” by Jean Elster is a picture book for a broad age-range. It can be read in one sitting. It is a model story of a father and son. The context is a normal family; one grandmother resides with them.

    • Betsy Farquhar on January 8, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      I’ll Fly My Own Plane sounds like a perfect addition! Thanks for the recommendation!

  22. Chad E on February 28, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    Danny, The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. Perhaps the best father son book of all time. Every time I have to send my son back to my ex wife’s I remind him that he is my champion of the world. We just finished Where the Red Fern Grows last month and are currently nearing the end of The Phantom Tollbooth, another classic. Reading to my kids is the most fun I have ever had.

    • Janie Cheaney on March 1, 2022 at 4:57 am

      Amen, Chas. Great suggestions! (My husband read three of the Ralph Moody books to our kids when they were little and they still remember, in their forties!)

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