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Book titles are in dark blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Berenstain Bears (The) and the Papa's Day Surprise (First Time Books(R)) by Stan and Jan Berenstain. (2003 - Ages 4-8)
“Father’s Day is nothing but a greeting card holiday,” is what Papa says. If that’s the way Papa feels, then his family just won’t celebrate this year. But, as the big day rolls around, and there’s no card, no gift, and no breakfast in bed, Papa’s spirits sink lower and lower. That’s when the cubs spring on him their wonderful Papa’s Day surprise!

Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (The) by Neil Gaiman with Dave McKean (illus). (2004 - Ages 4-8)
"I'll swap you my dad," I said.
"Oh-oh," said my little sister.
What if you wanted your best friend's two goldfish so much that you'd swap anything for them, even your father? What if your mother came home and found out what you'd done?

Froggy's Day With Dad by Jonathan London with Frank Remkiewicz (illus). (2006 - Ages 4-8)
It’s Father’s Day at last, and Froggy is so-o-o excited. "We’re going to play golf!" he tells his dad. Oh no. Dad says Froggy’s too little for golf. "But you’re just the right size to play miniature golf!" he explains. At the fun park, Froggy discovers mini golf is fun—especially once he figures out how to face the right way. All ends well, though, when Froggy presents his dad with a special coffee mug he decorated in school: To the Best Dad I Ever Had!

I Love My Daddy by Sebastien Braun. (2004 - Ages 4-8)
Sometimes daddies are loud and playful. Other times they are quiet and compassionate. And they are always loving. Sebastien Braun's appealing text and charming illustrations follow a day in the life of a bear and his bear cub in this celebration of the bond between father and child.

It's the Best Day Ever, Dad! by Brooke Shields with Cori Doerrfeld (illus). (2009 - Ages 4-8)
"Wake up, Dad! We've got a big day ahead!" Frankie and her little sister, Violet, are excited to be out and about with Dad! From pancakes to puppies to a super-duper surprise, the order of the day is F-U-N.

Just Dads: Nerves of Steel, Wills of Iron, Hearts of Pudding by Bonnie Louisse Kuchler. (2002 - Reference)
While mothers’ devotion might get more attention, many fathers also do their fair share of raising young. "Just Dads" is a unique giftbook that combines engaging and interesting male animal parenting photographs with insightful fatherhood quotations. Along with the quotations are intriguing facts about the paternal care many species provide.

Just Me and My Dad (Look-Look) by Mercer Mayer. (2001 - Ages 4-8)
The tale of a father-and-son camping trip filled with Little Critter's mistakes and good intentions. In spite of difficulties, however, the happy father and son manage to put up their tent, catch fish for dinner, and sleep beneath the stars. In spite of minimal text, the story is full and rich, with endearing illustrations from start to finish.

Little Critter: Happy Father's Day! by Mercer Mayer. (2007 - Ages 4-8)
Father's Day is just around the corner, and Little Critter and Little Sister have decided to plan a big surprise for Dad and Grandpa. Join them as they make cards, cook a special breakfast together, and put on a magic show. Lift the flaps and find out what Father's Day surprises are in store!

Me and My Dad! by Alison Ritchie with Alison Edgson (illus). (2007 - Ages 4-8)
My dad is the best daddy bear there could be. We're together forever-my dad and me." Little Bear and his dad do wonderful things-exploring high mountains, swimming in the rain, and telling stories as the stars come out. Best of all, they do everything together! A warm, funny celebration of the special bond between father and child.

Perfect Father's Day (A) by Eve Bunting with Susan Meddaugh (illus). (1993 - Ages 4-8)
"I'm taking you out for Father's Day," Susie tells Dad. "First we'll go for lunch." "Good," Dad says. "May I drive?" "Certainly," Susie says. She chooses the restaurant, and pretty soon Dad can see that she's filled this special day with treats--treats for both of them! When they get back home, Mom's final surprise (that isn't really a surprise at all) is a perfect ending for the perfect day.

Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis. (2007 - Reference)
Beginning with a biblical perspective of manhood, author-pastor Robert Lewis shares a unique approach to shaping a boy into a man by equipping him with three essential elements: a vision, a code of conduct, and a cause (Christianity) in which to invest his life. Complete with ceremony ideas to celebrate accomplishments and ingrain them in his mind, this softcover is as insightful as it is practical in raising a boy to be a chivalrous, godly man.

Right Next Door: Father's Day\The Courtship of Carol Sommars by Debbie Macomber. (reissue 2009)
Peter Sommars is fifteen, and what he needs is a little more independence. Which is why he'd like his mom, Carol, to start dating. He even knows the perfect man—Alex Preston, his best friend's dad. As it turns out, Alex is interested, but Carol's doing everything she can to sidestep his pursuit. Which only makes Alex—and the boys—more determined!

Zoe's Day with Daddy (Sesame Street) by Sarah Albee and P.J. Shaw with Tom Brannon (illus). (2008 - Ages 4-8)
Reader: It's a nice book for a boy or girl that likes to spend time with the father...nice gift too..

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Gift links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.

"Between Me and You: Dad; A Few Things I've Been Meaning To Ask" - Journal for Fathers
A brand new style of memory journal! "Dad: Between Me and You" is designed for a son or daughter to give their father to fill out. When finished, Dad returns the book and the child has a lasting heirloom! Filled with the questions you've always meant to ask. Front page has a "To-From" section, as well as an introduction explaining the journal. Each lined page has one question for Dad to answer.

Blu-ray/DVD/cd Combo Black
BDC-202 gives Blu-ray disc playback, with DVD and CD read/write compatibility. Developed for OEMs and systems builders, the drive has BD-ROM compatibility and enables playback of quality high-definition (HD) movies on PCs. It includes read support for single and dual-layer Blu-ray disc formats together with high-speed read/write compatibility with a range of DVD and CD media.

Cooling/Heating Seat Topper
Cooling and heating topper helps ease the discomfort of long-term sitting. With the flip of a switch, cooled or heated water circulates through this soft, padded cushion for maximum comfort. Whether you're too hot, too cold, or just tired from sitting all day, it will help relieve your stress and fatigue. Use it in the car, home or office includes two AC/DC adapters for home and vehicle use.

"I Love You Dad" Lighted Cube
Remind Dad how much you care with this clear acrylic cube that says "I Love You Dad" in glowing green when the LED lighted base is turned on.

Jensen NVX200 3.5" Touch Screen Portable Navigation GPS System
The NVX200 Navigator is a navigation system optimized for in-car use. It provides door-to-door navigation for both single and multi-point routes using adaptable route parameters. The NVX200 Navigator is capable of planning routes throughout the whole map region installed on the memory card. Unlike some other products, The NVX200 Navigator does not require that you change maps or switch to a poorly detailed general map to navigate between map segments or countries. You always have complete freedom to go wherever you wish.

Nikon Coolpix S6000 14 MP Digital Camera with 7x Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Silver) with Leather Case and 2GB SD Card
Nikon COOLPIX S6000 Silver 14.2 Megapixel Digital Camera Kit - COOLPIXS6000. 14.2 Megapixels. 7x Wide-Angle Zoom-NIKKOR ED Glass Lens. Bright 2.7" Clear Color Display. 4-Way VR Image Stabilization System. 16 Scene Modes. New Advanced Flash Control. EXPEED Image Processing. 5 Color Options. Blink Warning. Face-Priority AF. Includes A Leather Case And 2GB SD Card. Silver Finish

Thinking of You Gift Basket (Large) - Father's Day Gift Basket - Birthday Gift Basket - Get Well Gift Basket
This willow basket is a nice way to tell someone how much you care. It comes filled with chocolate truffle cookies, crackers, wafers, biscotti gold, cheese straws, shortbread biscuits, bonbons, rum cake, mocha truffle almonds and more.

Unique Fine Quality Father's Day Gift Him - 12" Rosewood Jewelry Box Case w/ Shou & 2 Drawers - Honey
Lovely kiln dried Merbu wood oriental jewelry box, handcrafted with Ming style floating panel joinery, lacquered brass hasp and handles, choice of beautiful medium or dark satin rosewood finish, lined with plush eggshell white felt in top compartment & drawers, top is carved w/ traditional Chinese Shou symbol, for longevity and felicity of the recipient, ships in 48 hours, professionally packed, fully insured from our Massachusetts warehouse, expedited delivery available.

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My Father’s Daughter
By Kate Dudding

A memoir

My father, Kenneth William Eike, Sr., died in 1983 when he was 68 and I was 32.  I have many regrets about his death.  One important one is that my son was born 2 years after my father died, so they never met.  But my largest regret is that I never established an adult relationship with my father.

Oh, I knew he loved me – that was never in question.  You can see his love for me in the only picture I have of him looking at me.  I’m six months old, wearing my tiny Easter dress.  He’s holding me like a sack of groceries, with my back against his chest.  He is just beaming down at me.  There are a lot of other pictures of us together, looking squarely at the camera, but this is the only picture I have of him looking at me.

So I always knew he loved me.

But we didn’t really have interests in common.  He was primarily interested in sports, mostly watching them on TV, even bowling and golf, but he also bowled and golfed and fished in real life.  I’m interested in crafts and playing the piano – things my mother did.

So while it was too late for me to change our relationship, I still wanted to find some connections between us.  So I sat down one day to count the ways I resemble him.

I looked at photos for any physical resemblance and discovered that I have my father’s smile – both his teeth and his lips.  So I counted both of these ‘startling’ physical resemblances as one.

My father was a pachysandra farmer, on his 50’ by 150’ suburban lot.  Pachysandra is a ground cover, which thrives in shady areas.  My father started by planting pachysandra under the maples by the street, then under the shrubs at the front of the house, then under the shrubs at the back, under the blue spruce, the Japanese maple, the forsythia in the back, as well as by the stone wall and the garage.  He knew just how to propagate the pachysandra by taking cuttings each spring, after the pachysandra flowered, and cutting off side shoots just where they joined the main stem.  He put the cuttings in a flat of sandy soil, put the flat in the shade and watered it for several weeks, and whenever there wasn’t any rain.  The cuttings were ready for transplanting in the fall. 

So when my husband and I moved into our first home, my father arrived with a flat of pachysandra and installed it where we wanted it.  On the day we were moving to our second home, which was after my father had died, I suddenly got upset and said to my husband, “We can’t leave the pachysandra here!”  So he just tore up a bunch of it, took it to the new house, several miles away, and stuck it in our son’s wading pool until the yard had been graded. The pachysandra survived this unorthodox treatment, thank goodness.

Now I have not done any pachysandra farming.  But at our second home, I did plant lots of perennials and spring bulbs.  So I’ll count our shared gardening interest as two.

Then I got on a roll.  I realized that whatever organization my father belonged to, Purchasing Agents Association or Trout Unlimited, for example, he always got involved in organizing events.  And I do that with my organizations – the local storytelling guild and the PTA.  So that’s three.

Then there are cards.  We both love to play cards.  Growing up we played 4-handed pinochle with my mother and brother – girls against the boys.  And we played 2 handed cribbage and gin rummy.  My father would never discard anything he thought I wanted.  At the end of every hand, he looked at my cards.  “I thought you were collecting 10s.  I’ve been holding onto this 10 since the beginning of the game!”  That’s four.

And my son enjoys cards and betting on cards.  My father occasionally played poker with his cronies.  So, since this betting on cards passed through me to my son, I’ll count that as five.

But five was as far as I got. I wasn’t satisfied -- it didn’t feel like enough ways that I resembled my father.

But the next Christmas eve, the 17th without my father, something happened.

Everything was finally ready for Christmas: food prepared, tree trimmed, presents wrapped and put around the tree and in the stockings.  And we still had some energy left.  So my husband and son challenged my sister-in-law and me to a game of Ping-Pong.

We had only had the Ping-Pong table in the basement for a few months. And I can’t remember when or if I’d ever played any doubles sports game.  But I heard myself saying, “Good shot, partner!”  and “Your serve, partner.”  I couldn’t figure out where all this partner talk had come from…

But as I was getting ready for bed, I realized -- that was my father’s card table talk.  When he was playing pinochle with my brother or grandfather or uncle or the next door neighbor, my father was always saying, “Good game, partner.”, or “We’ll win the next hand, partner.”

Suddenly, that was six.  And that was enough.  I finally realized that I do resemble my father, in ways I may or may not recognize.  I look forward to future revelations.  But they will merely confirm what I now know deep in my heart: I am my father’s daughter.

Kate Dudding, New York



Wedding photo: Mom, Dad and Larry in front;
Aunt Paula and Uncle Ted in back

Dad and me, taken in the late '70s (I think)

John Fussner

Our father, John William Fussner, told us bedtime stories every night, and it was our favorite part of the bedtime ritual. These were stories just for us (and often about us), drawn from our father’s imagination and the many stories he had heard and lived in his life. He had grown up on a farm in Illinois and moved to the St. Louis area because there weren’t enough opportunities for work.

Some of the best stories about my father came from his older sisters and his mother, proving you are never safe if you come from a family of storytellers. Fortunately for us, he wrote down many of his stories, and I encourage everyone to make a similar record of family stories. Magic was important! When we were little, our Christmas tree and presents were nowhere to be seen until Christmas morning, letting us know that Santa had been busy at our house.

Both our parents made us children the focus of their lives. Dad worked hard at McDonnell Douglas to support his family, but the rest of his time was devoted to home. He and his brothers built the house we lived in, and Dad built much of the furniture, including beds, closets, kitchen cabinets that I believe will last forever, and a table made from a door, large enough for all of us to eat together. Family dinners were important, every day at five, and we were to compliment the cook and ask to be excused before leaving the table.

When I came home from kindergarten and said I wanted to be a teacher, Dad said I'd have to do well in school to get a scholarship, since "Daddy is a working man." I worked hard, and he encouraged me all the way!

My father wrote about his life (in dialect, not that easy to do) in his introduction to his "Uncle John Stories":

"I reckon you be hankern to know sump'n 'bout Uncle John, the feller that be jawin' all 'bout Grandpa. Ah figger it be best iffen ah bragged a bit and tell you about me. Iffen you kin figger what makes me tick like ah do, tell me; so we both will know. Then maybe some day we'uns kin all git together fer a jawin' an' figger out what I be, and then figger out what I be good fer, if anythin'.

Well sir, way back there in World War One, my pappy be a hired hand on a big farm on the flatlands of Illinois. Come time fer the stork to visit Mom, and the Doc and his Model T had a bit of trouble gittin' over thet mud road to our house. Pappy had lived all his life on a farm, and I was the fifth youn'un; so everything turned out alright.
'Bout the time I was seven years old, my oldest brothers be about finished with school and ready for a job. But a payin' job warn't there; so Pa reckoned to move back to St. Louis County, Missouri, taking half the school's young'uns with him.

I grew up in St. Louis and lived on a street where country folks lived. They be from the Missouri Ozarks, Arkansas, Tennessee, and other spots. As soon as I learned about and saw the hill country and the folks livin' thar, I sorta got homesick for a place I never lived in. Yep, most of my life, tho' I be born on the flat lands, I be homesick for the hill country.

Workwise, I started as a mule skinner, then a truck driver, and then a bus driver. Jest a little note here, a truck driver is a laborer with his brains knocked out. A bus driver didn't have a brain to start with, but fer me, tain't not true, 'cause my brain be as good as new. Tain't never been used.

Well sir, some twenty odd years ago, I got me a job at McDonnell Aircraft, helpin' to build airplanes. I also worked on the Mercury and Gemini Space Craft and the Sky Lab. Yep, I started out with a horse and buggy for transportation, and went from thar to space craft. Along the way, I married me a good woman and we brung up five good young'uns. I reckon my life has been a good'un. So be it.

Afore I go, I wanta say a little sump'n to you younguns. Remember how your dear ol' pappy and mammy read stories to you. Well, iffen their eyes be a little weak now from watching over you, this be a good story to read to them. So long now."

Stories Make the World Go Around
Mary Garrett, St. Peters, Missouri


A Father's Day Story

Father's Day is fast approaching and naturally my thoughts turn to my own father who passed away in July of 2005. He was on many levels a complicated man and some things I will never understand, just quietly accept, but I do remember some of the good times we shared.

One of those good times took place when I was just a young girl. To fully appreciate what happened this day you should know that my father always took great pride in his appearance. His clothes were always neatly pressed and starched, thanks to my mother since I never saw him iron anything. During the 1960's many men still wore a shirt and tie when out with their families, even for something as mundane as an afternoon stroll at the local zoo.

I remember it was a warm, sunny day, most likely a Sunday afternoon as I was dressed in my "going to church" clothes and wearing my favorite black patent leather shoes. (Obviously my shoe fetish began at an early age.) I was about five years old, still young enough for my mother to keep a firm grip on my tiny hand as we wound our way down the serpentine paths, stopping at each animal cage I am sure. Yet, I only recall seeing the llamas, and with good reason!

We stopped at the enclosure holding those mysterious, exotic looking creatures; my older sister and I stood dutifully on either side of our mother. My father approached the metal chain link fence, the modern barrier between man and beast, and one llama slowly ambled over. Delighted, my sister and I began to pull up some of the grass growing between the cement walkway and the fence, carefully poking the blades through the fence, giggling as it gently nibbled it from our chubby, child-like fingers. As the llama ate, his great, puffy lips pursed comically as it chewed carefully and deliberately.

My father was also a great jokester and so he placed his face as close as he could up to the fence, directly in line with the llama, and slowly began to mimic his munching motions. Now I told you he was a snappy dresser and today was no exception, which made the scene even more ridiculous. Here was this handsome, wavy red-haired man, smartly dressed in a white starched shirt, perfectly knotted tie and sharply creased pants acting the part of a llama sloppily chewing his treat. Encouraged by our giggling his facial contortions became more and more exaggerated. He was having such a grand time entertaining us he didn't notice the llama moving closer to the fence until they were finally almost nose to nose.

To this day I swear I saw the llama steal a glance over to my sister and me before he deliberately turned once more to my father, opened his mouth and forcefully, and very indelicately, spewed all of its contents into his face. That split second scene sent my mother, sister and me into an immediate wave of belly laughter, that is until we realized dad wasn't laughing at all! Quickly, my mother did her best to quiet us down while simultaneously digging into her purse to find something to wipe off his face as we continued to giggle as quietly as we could.

I don't remember anything else from that comical trip to the zoo but I do remember that time does heal a broken ego. In later years we were all able to recount that day with my father and laugh about it together. Those llamas are long gone but the universe does have a wicked sense of humor. My sister moved a few years ago and one of her new neighbors raises those feisty animals. Every time I drive by I am reminded of the llama that put my father in his place!

Karen Chace, Massachusetts



I Discover My Legacy

My father's last birthday was his 81st.  He was a member of what is often touted as “The Greatest Generation.”  That memorial they dedicated in May of 2004, the one that launched a hundred days of Big Band dance tunes and patriotic nostalgia – he was among the World War II veterans that memorial is dedicated to. 

During my happy birthday phone call I asked my father if he had any wisdom he felt like sharing with the generation coming up hot on his heels. 

“What do you mean ‘wisdom’?” he asked, leaning sardonically on the word “wisdom.” 

I said, “Well, you’ve been around a lot longer than I have.  What do you know that I need to know?”

It was a sincere question. I wasn’t trying to patronize him. I'm always looking for ways to deal with life’s unfathomables. 

My father never was much one for introspection, sentimentality, nostalgia or pedantry.  He said, “Hell!  I don’t have any wisdom!  You’re on your own.  You make your bed.  You lie in it.  And when you die, it’s over.  Period.” 

My father was good at bombastic. Iconoclastic. Shock value.

He said, “I’ll tell you one thing that might surprise you:  World War II was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I’m serious.  The best thing.  Bar none!”   And the ensuing silence throbbed with an unspoken, There!  That’ll give her some gristle to chew on.

My father and I always wondered how two people who saw the world so differently were spawned in the same gene pool.  That comment about World War II – He said it without irony or sarcasm.  That was gristle enough to choke on.

“All right, you old coot,” I said,  “I guess if I want a legacy to remember you by, I’d better find it and appropriate it myself.” 

Leading up to and in the months after his death – lung cancer; we saw it coming – I spent a lot of time and energy paying attention to what there was about my father that I could admire and want to emulate.  

Well, for one thing, he was always curious.  And that curiosity made him a voracious reader.  He liked the books I recommend to him, and I liked the ones he told me about.  “The Master Butcher’s Singing Club” was a double joy to me – first because I loved the story and the way Louise Erdrich writes, second because it was my father who loved it first and told me about it.  “All the Pretty Horses” is doubly precious to me because I gave it to Dad one Father's Day, and he ended up devouring everything Cormac McCarthy had ever written.  Not only that, but we were both big Harry Potter fans.

Another thing:  My father was a phenomenal storyteller.  Whenever he remembered out loud, pictures sprang up in my imagination.  Ten or fifteen minutes into one of his jokes I still wasn't ready for the punchline, because getting to it was such a trip.  He knew how to pace a story, when to let a silence stretch, when to hurry it along, and it was all unself-conscious, un-studied, extemporaneous.  My father could think on his feet.  I wish I could do that.

My father was iconoclastic and bombastic, but not cruel.  He didn't browbeat.  He didn't belittle.  He took as good as he gave.  Ergo, it was a pleasure to argue with him.  A good banter with my dad was as satisfying as a volley between a couple of competent tennis players.  This tells me my father didn't take himself or the ideas he espoused too seriously.   Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more of us took our selves less seriously?

These things about my father swam into focus as he was dying – things I sort of already knew but hadn’t yet appropriated as his gifts to me. 

Still…there was that comment about World War II.  I couldn’t make sense of it.  I couldn’t make peace with it.  Until the last time I saw him. En route from Fredericksburg, Virginia, to Oklahoma City I got a glimmer of what he was talking about..

World War II got my father out of his comfort zone.  The war took him as far from Oklahoma as a person can get without leaving the planet, and there he learned that the reality he grew up with in that little town called Edmond, Oklahoma, is only one of countless viable versions of reality.  During the war, my father learned how to travel.  And from him, I’ve learned how to step out into strange places and make myself a home based on choice rather than default. 

He returned from The War with a newfound autonomy and unwittingly made that his legacy to me. I guess that's how two people so disparate in their world views can hark back to the same gene pool. And that's why, as soon as I turned 21, at election time, my vote tended almost always to cancel his.

In my effort to find what I wanted to remember him by, I feel that my dad didn't give me much to work with. But another important thing he taught me is that if you don't play the hand you're dealt, you automatically lose.

Megan Hicks, Virginia



Janus The Father and my Father
A personal essay by
Bill Ratner

The god Janus Bifrons – Janus of two faces -- was at the top of the ancient Romans’ list, even more important than Jupiter. He was celebrated on the first day of every month and the first month of every year. He presided over daybreak. He was at the head of all human enterprise. To Romans his two faces represented confusion. He was also called Chaos. He was the god of doorways -- his two faces could see both the outside and the inside of your home. In the Roman Forum he had a temple whose gates were open in wartime and closed in times of peace. The gates of Janus were rarely closed. He was also called Janus Pater – Janus the Father.

When I was a child my father carried a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol in the car. The first time I saw his gun it was hidden under a copy of the Des Moines Register on the front passenger seat.

“How come you have this, dad?”

“Just for safety. Just in case.”

He saw action in Okinawa in the Navy in World War II, but now he worked for Betty Crocker at General Mills, creating Betty Crocker TV commercials and magazine ads. He said he carried the gun because he was involved in a political campaign to get rid of the corrupt Des Moines Mayor, and the mayor was not a good man.

My dad was from the South side of Chicago, and as a kid he played baseball for St. Pancratius Church even though he was a Jew. Back then Al Capone was the cappo di tutti cappi of the Chicago crime syndicate; he virtually ran the city. My dad told me that when he was studying Business at the University of Chicago Al Capone sent a guy to talk to him about working for Capone as an accountant.

I asked him if he took the job.

He said, “No. Gangsters robbed and shot people, and got syphilis, went to jail, and got killed.”

I liked gangsters. They were tough. They controlled things. I watched the Untouchables on TV with Robert Stack as Elliott Ness, I saw every movie I could about gangsters, I read books about them. My dad caught me with a paperback, Dutch Schultz: The Violent One. Just as I reached the part where Dutch was drinking a pint of Bourbon in bed with a hooker my dad grabbed the book out of my hand. “Son, this is garbage. These people weren’t heroes. They were sociopaths.” After he took it from me I think he read it  himself.

I imagined my dad as a gangster. He had the gun, he dressed like a gangster - fedora hats, pin-striped suits, two-toned wing-tipped brogue shoes. He talked like a gangster with his baritone voice and flat Great Lakes accent. He sang The Marriage of Figaro in the shower. Every morning I watched him shave his thick black beard. He’d slap on some English Leather and say, “What do you think? Looking sharp, huh? Looking sharp.”

On Sunday mornings he came down for breakfast in his below-the-knee pinstriped nightshirt. After he finished eating he’d produce a wad of toilet paper, unroll it, and pull out a cigar he hadn’t finished the day before. He’d fire it up and smoke it at the dining room table.

Near the end of his life, a subtle form of chaos set in. I could tell he was getting tired of working for Betty Crocker. He started referring to his biggest annual project – publishing the Betty Crocker Cookbook – as the Cooky Booky schmooky. One morning my friend Steve and I were sitting in the back of my dad’s green Packard sedan riding to school, and we stopped in the middle of the street. Two women in cars were blocking us. They had their windows rolled down and were chatting with each other. My dad honked. They continued talking. Ever so slowly the Packard edged forward. “Dad, don’t,” I yelled.

He nudged the car in front. The lady’s arms flew up in the air like chicken wings and she roared off. He said, “Sometimes you’ve just got to let them know you’re there.”

On a Friday night a week before my fourteenth birthday I arrived home from the eighth-grade dance. The house was dark. I snapped on a light in the front hallway and hung my jacket in the closet. I climbed the stairs to my parents’ bedroom. My mom sat bolt upright in bed with a gasp. I asked where dad was.

“I think he’s in the bathroom.”

There was a dim light coming from under the bathroom door. I opened it, but something was blocking it. My father lay behind the door splayed across the white ceramic tile. The way I remember it, his legs were crossed like he was lying on a chaise lounge, relaxing somewhere far away. His glasses were broken, and there was dried blood on his cheek.

I ran out of the house to get our next door neighbor, Dr. Anderson, and as I skidded down our front lawn, I glanced at the Winter sky and said aloud to myself, “I will never be afraid of anything again.”

A few minutes later Dr. Anderson informed me that my dad was dead of a massive coronary heart attack.

Over the years I’ve dreamed about my dad. In the dreams he is sometimes too busy to talk. In one dream he drove up to me in his green Packard to tell me he was proud of me, but I was on my way to handle an emergency and had to leave. When I got back he was gone.

I have a small plaster statue of my dad that his Betty Crocker co-workers made for him. Across the base it reads, “The man who dared.”

There is no existing statue or bust of the Roman god Janus, just coins in museums with the image of an older bearded man with two faces – Janus the Father. Whenever I run across the image of Janus I think of my father.

Bill Ratner, Los Angeles


Following Daddy’s Footsteps
In memory of Kenneth O. Hackworth by daughter Dianne Hackworth

I was always following my Daddy. And he was always tuned into me, watching out for me. I would follow behind him as he walked, trying to stretch my small legs in order to step exactly where he did. Little did I know that he often shortened his steps so I would succeed.

As a toddler, just barely being able to walk, and probably crawling part of the way, when I saw Daddy walk to the spring house, I followed Daddy. By the time I got there, he must have been gone, having already thrown in the watermelon for cooling. But I went in to explore. Daddy had walked around the other side of the spring house and then headed back to the house. Something told him to go back and look. There he saw me, floating bottoms up with the watermelon. I was always benefiting from my Daddy listening to that still, small voice within him!

When I was three, Daddy was building fence on top of the middle ridge or our farm, about a mile from our house - where I was supposed to be with Mama and the other three kids. Daddy says he knew I was walking up the ridge because he heard me humming, but assumed Mama and the others were with me. Suddenly, it occurred to him, if the others were with me, he’d be hearing their voices too. But it was just me. By myself. Walking a mile from the house to be with my Daddy.  So he ‘WhooHoo’ed to alert Mama as to my where-abouts and taught me how to build fence until Mama could come with the others to get me. I learned a lot of unusual things for a young girl due to following my Daddy.

When I was eight, I was still following Daddy. He was spreading granular fertilizer in the hayfield. The fertilizer spreader was one of those contraptions that had a mechanism of two metal bars that moved apart and then together, back and forth, back and forth, with a constant stop and flow action to allow the granules to come out slowly. I followed behind the tractor and the spreader, feeling the tickle of the fertilizer on my open hands, Daddy not aware that I had come up behind him. The spreader hit a bump causing it to bounce up and back down, catching one of my fingers between the two moving bars. At just that instant, Daddy stopped the tractor, wondering to himself why. Then he heard my cry! A split second longer and my finger would have been severed from my hand. I again was rescued by my Daddy’s quick actions.

My Daddy died in 2007, but I continue following him. Trying to step in his footsteps. Footsteps of family pride, fairness, and determination.

And Daddy, I’m still working on completing the three family history projects you began that I promised I’d finish and publish for you!

Dianne Hackworth, Tennessee


My Father Was a Singing Cowboy

© Glenda Bonin 2003

My father was a singing cowboy in Laramie, Wyoming. He sang songs at barn dances, for picnics and in taverns - wherever folks got together to have a good time.

His hero was Tom Mix, a popular movie cowboy of the day who lived by the Code of the West: saving damsels in distress, taking care of the bad guys and saving western towns from impending doom. (For those of you who aren't familiar with Tom Mix, but you have a notion of who Roy Rogers was. . .well, Tom was a movie cowboy long before Roy became popular on the silver screen.)

Now this was in the 1940's when I was about five years old. That's when my parents bought their very first house. You probably wouldn't call it a house by today's standards, since it was a basement house. You see, in those days and in those parts, when folks didn't have enough money to build a whole house, they'd start with the basement and add floors later - as time and money allowed. So, when you approached our yard, all you'd see was a flat cement square surrounded by grass, and a door that opened up to reveal stairs going down into our place.

Like most kids moving into a new house, I wanted a pet. Unfortunately, I was allergic to dogs and cats.

One day, my father surprised me by bringing home a beautiful baby lamb. Oh, she was so sweet . . . I was in love with her the moment I saw her.

Do you know, it's true what they say in Mary Had a Little Lamb - they do follow you everywhere!

I called my lamb, Sweetie. And my Sweetie was the hit of the neighborhood. But one of our neighbors - Mr. Clooney, who lived right next door - didn't like Sweetie one little bit. He kept calling out to my father across the fence whenever he saw us: "You'd better get rid of that thing. It doesn't belong in a neighborhood like this."

One day, when I was playing in the yard with Sweetie, the police came. They parked their car in front of our house, but walked over to talk with Mr. Clooney. I watched as Mr. Clooney pointed to our yard and talked with the policemen. They looked my way.

When they left, they smiled and waved at me before getting into their car. Right after that, Mr. Clooney threw down his rake and stormed into his house.

A few days later, when I got up from my nap, I went outside to play with Sweetie. I found her under the tree, and she was walking kinda funny. I picked her up and took her down into the house to my mom.

That's when I saw blood falling from Sweetie's mouth. I started to cry, and Sweetie crawled under my mom's big stove and got between the wall and the back of the stove, just where we couldn't reach her.

I thought maybe Sweetie felt cozy back there, because she put her head down on the floor and went to sleep.

A little while later, Dad came home with one of the neighbors who was studying to be a vet. He and my dad reached under the stove, got Sweetie out, and - after a few minutes - told me that my Sweetie had died.

Then the neighbor took my father to the side of the kitchen and talked to him with a soft voice, but I was listening. He told my dad that he thought someone had poisoned Sweetie.

As soon as I heard my dad say, "'l'll bet Mr. Clooney did it," I ran screaming out of the kitchen, up the stairs and out into the yard.

My father must have been right behind me, because he scooped me up in his big arms just before I got to where Mr. Clooney was standing on the other side of the fence.

My dad sat down with me under the tree, and he held me tightly. He sang the song, 'You Are My Sunshine' over and over until at last, I calmed down.

Then my father said something to me that I will never forget. He said, "Mr. Clooney knows what he did, honey, and that is punishment enough."

As I sat there with my father's arm around me, I started to understand just a little bit about why he thought Tom Mix was so special and why living by the Code of the West was such a good thing. 'Cause, at that moment, I knew I was sitting next to the best cowboy any girl could hope to know.

My dad asked me never to say anything to Mr. Clooney about my lamb, and that was easy enough for me, because I knew I didn't even want to look at that man.

About a month later, a 'For Sale' sign appeared on Mr. Clooney's property. My mother said he had moved out of his house - in the middle of the night.

. . .The University of Wyoming has a football field in the area where my family's house used to be. When I had a chance to walk around there, I thought about my first pet, Sweetie, and about poor old Mr. Clooney.

But, mostly . . . I thought about my father, the singing cowboy.

Glenda Bonin, Arizona



Standing On My Father's Shoulders

One evening after supper, I curled up on the couch and asked my nephew Cole what book he would like me to read to him. From his stack of library books, he picked the classic Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.

The text was a little long for a two and half year old, so I read as expressively as I could and interspersed the story with dialogic reading in order to keep his attention. Halfway through the story, my father joined us on the couch, and I insisted he finish the reading. My voice was a bit tired, and I thought that a new reader would bring new life to the story.

Indeed he did.

While my father read, he naturally added sound effects and physical interactions with Cole (tickling, tapping, etc). He easily modified the text; he repeated phrases and added humorous comments or explanations that would engage Cole's imagination but also make adults (like me) chuckle.

I was in awe. I was entertained. I felt grateful.

My father is an amazing educator, and I now see how his storytelling proficiency inspired my own interest in stories, reading, and ultimately learning.

I hope to get a few of his animated and humorous story readings on video for posterity.

Hayley Elece McEwing, Ohio



Online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more stories and information.
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Father's Day - Wikipedia.
Father's Day on the Net: A Celebration in Honor of All Fathers. Historical information, ideas for celebrating and special activities for children.
Father's Day gifts, cards, recipes, activities, crafts, poems, coloring pages, clip art, movies, fun.
History of Father's Day.
Printable Books for Early to Fluent Readers for Father's Day.
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Father's Day Stories.
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Advice, Discussion and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Posts to Storytell are added as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) Query:

What about telling the story of "The Prodigal Son"? Then you could follow it with a personal recollection of one time when your father forgave you. It could be a powerful story.


a) The Prodigal Son (Usborne Bible Tales) by Heather Amery and Norman Young (illustrator). (1999 - Ages 9-12)

b) Living Adventures from the Bible, Album #1: 1-David And Goliath, 2-The Good Samaritan, 3-The Prodigal Son, 4-Jonah and The Whale (Living Adventures from the Bible, 3) by Frances Kelley (Narrator). Audio CD. (1988)
CD Description
1- DAVID AND GOLIATH ~ The famous story of how a young boy named David protected ancient Israel from the Philistine enemy by killing their leader, the giant Goliath, with a single stone from his Slingshot. 2- THE GOOD SAMARITAN ~ The inspirational story of how a Jewish boy’s life was saved by a Samaritan, who rescued the boy after he was badly beaten by a gang of ruffians in a mountain pass. 3- THE PRODIGAL SON ~ The heartfelt story of a father, whose love for his two sons was badly split. One son took off on a life of wild living, while the other son stayed home and worked hard on the family farm. 4- JONAH AND THE WHALE ~ The fascinating tale of how God told Jonah to go warn the people, of the ancient city of Niniveh, to change their evil ways or face destruction. At first, Jonah refused to go, but changed his mind after being swallowed by a monster fish.

c) The Story of the Prodigal Son by Tama M. Montgomery (autor) and Stacy Venturi-Pickett (illustrator). (2002 - Ages 4-8)
Rich watercolor illustrations highlight this presentation of Jesus' familiar parable of the prodigal son.

d) The Story of the Two Brothers (Lion Story Bible) by Penny Frank. (1987 - Baby-Preschool)

e) Parables for a New Millennium by Voice of Prophecy. (2000)
If Jesus Christ told his insightful parables in the 21st century, how would his "Prodigal Son" tale begin? Would the five foolish virgins let their laptop batteries run out rather than their oil, or the Good Samaritan turn into a tale of a drive-by shooting? David B. Smith writes and produces the radio sermons on the daily Voice of Prophecy broadcast heard throughout most of North America.

f) The Prodigal Son: Oh, Brother! and Other Bible Stories to Tickle Your Soul (Heaven and Mirth) by Mike Thaler and Dennis Adler (illus). (2000 - Ages 9-12)
Bible Stories Boring??? Not these!
The Heaven and Mirth® series teaches biblical values in a fun and entertaining way. No more boring Bible stories! You'll want to read these laughter-filled tales over and over again!

The five stories in "The Prodigal Son: Oh, Brother!" help your child realize the importance of forgiveness. Through the stories of the Prodigal Son, the conversion of Saul, and more, your child will gain a deeper understanding of how forgiveness models God's love. It is this love that sets him or her free to love and forgive others.

Goldie, the miner prophet says:
"These books will tickle your soul."

Adam and the Apple Turnover
Moses: Take Two Tablets and Call Me in the Morning
The Prodigal Son: Oh, Brother!

g) The son who came home again: The prodigal son for beginning readers : Luke 15:11-32 for children (I can read a Bible story) by Joan Lowery Nixon. (1977)
Retells the parable of the son, who, after squandering his inheritance, returns home to a forgiving father.

h) The Prodigal Son (Family Time Bible Stories) by David Michaels, Time-Life Books and Steve Cieslawski (illus). (1997 - Ages 4-8)
Jesus recounts the parable of the son who, after leaving home and spending half his father's money, returns to his family and is joyously welcomed.

i) Prodigal Son (People of the Bible) by Catherine Storr and Gavin Rowe (illus). (1983)
Retells the story of the wayward son whose return home gladdened his father's heart.

2) I tell the Aesop fable of "The Bundle of Sticks." It's set as the father is dying, actually on his death bed, when he calls his sons to his side and tells them he wants to leave something for them... he then goes through the bundle of sticks theme.... leaving his sons with... "As long as you stick together like the bundle of sticks, nothing can ever break you apart or break your spirit. Always value the strength in family for often onecannot go it alone."

Look up this story, it's short and you can adapt it to fit the situation fairly easy. It's a wonderful story about a father passing on values to his sons/daughters/family/etc.....

Aesop's Fables; complete and unabridged (Larger type for easy reading) (1968)
Scholars can only speculate about where and when Aesop was born; indeed, many believe he never existed. The fables bearing his name were written down in the sixth century B.C.; some two thousand years later, a collection of them was published by a Byzantine monk, who offered a biography of the author that may or may not be grounded in fact. Allegedly, Aesop was a slave of Iadomon of Samos, in Greece. He traveled widely. According to one account, he told his stories aloud to King Croesus of Lydia and thereby won his freedom. Another legend has it that he related the fable of the frogs who wanted a king to the citizens of Athens to keep them from ousting Pisistratus. But the only historical reference to Aesop is the one stating that Lysippus, a sculptor, had made a statue of him in Athens. The fables were first translated into Latin verse by Phaedrus, a Macedonian. They were translated into many other different languasges over the centuries and have, by providing enjoyment for both children and adults, kept alive the name and romantic image of their perhaps legendary slave creator.

3) Another story that might be appropriate is Robert Munsch's Love You Forever. To be honest, the self-sacrifice of the tree is over the top for me, but the story is a favorite of millions and speaks to a parent's unconditional love for a child.

4) Here's a poem by Mary Oliver. I have read it at many memorial services, and it always strikes a responsive chord.

In Blackwater Woods
Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black rivers of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver American Primitive.

5) The story that comes to mind is by Susan Alexander. It can be found in Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud by Jim Trelease. It is her original story titled Nadia the Willful. The story centers on the loss of a favorite son and the father's refusal to hear the son's name spoken. The memory of his son causes the father too much pain, grief. It is Nadia, the willful and mindful daughter, who teaches her father and everyone in the village that in remembrance and stories there is comfort. A heartfelt tale.

6) My favorite story about a father and his son is Abiyoyo (Stories to Go!) Paperback, an African story told by Pete Seegar- he had a recording of it in the 70's and also later in picture book form. I have told it for Head Start classes with great success. It is the favorite story of both children and teachers. The father is a magician with a magic wand who plays annoying tricks on the townspeople, and his son further annoys the people by going around playing endlessly on his guitar , "plink, plank, plunk." A giant monster comes to ravage the town, and the father and son save the people by means of the magic wand, the guitar and a song! They play and sing , and the giant dances and dances until he falls exhausted on the ground. The formerly disliked father and son are the heroes of the town!

7) Not a story, but a saying that might serve as a hook for a story -- the leaf never falls far from the tree.

8) How about "Anansi and his six sons:? Each son has a special gift to save the father. Then he has to choose which son gets the magical glowing ball. When a dispute ensues Anansi (wise father that he is) throws it up in the sky where it becomes the moon for all to enjoy.

9) Not a father, but a grandfather--how about the Korean (?) story--there are many variants--of the couple who have the old father living with them and want to get rid of them and the young son asks what he will use when it's time to get rid of them. Details are hazy, as I've never told it. And, Bundle of Sticks. When I tell it, I say the 3 sons took over for their father when he retired to sit in the sun. When they start fighting, father becomes concerned about the reputation of the business he had built up, and brings them the bundle of sticks. How about Too Much Noise (Literacy 2000 Satellites: Stage 4)? In the end the "father" decides baby crying is really just right.
a) Too Much Noise (Sandpiper Books) by Ann McGovern and Simms Taback (illus). (1992 - Ages 4-8)
b) Too Much Noise (1967) through Houghton Mifflin Co.
c) Too Much Noise through Scholastic Book Services. (1975)

10) In fairy tales, the father often represents the good aspects of parenting, but usually in contrast to the (step)mother; when the father "leaves on business" or gives in to the (step)mother, all hell breaks loose for the kids.

Truth is, I can't really think of how you could use that to your advantage in this program because it puts the onus on the female parent even more. Still, your question made me think about how frequently fathers are the passive stimulus to the onset of a fairy tale. By absenting themselves physically or emotionally, thus removing their affection or protection, (Cinderella, Vasalisa, Hansel and Gretel...) or by giving a stern charge to all of their children which only the youngest and most unconventional can meet (3rd son/daughter stories such as Firebird or Flying ship variants), they set the story in motion, and, without the story--the sequence of challenges the child must overcome by his/her own wits and resources--the child cannot "grow up."

11) Somehow I was reminded of the new Kwanzaa picture book Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story. It's beautifully illustrated. It's the story of a African father who has seven sons who can never get along. As he prepares to die he tells them he has an inheritance for them which they may only have after they prove they can cooperate. He leaves them seven spools of thread and they must make it into something valuable together. (The stipulation is more exact but I can't remember it.) They eventually manage to do their deceased father's will and come into their inheritance after proving so to the village chief. They only succeed of course through cooperation, creativity, etc. (the seven principles of Kwanzaa).

12) What I ended up telling this morning was a new story I heard Margaret Read MacDonald tell at the Texas Library Association PreConference workshop: Mabela the Clever, it's now an August House 32-page book. Bones: Mabella is a mouse. Her father said to her "Mabella, whenever you are out and about, use your ears, and listen all around you/use your eyes and look all around/listen to what you are saying/if you have to move, move fast! The cat came to the mouse village and announced that the the mice had just been voted into the secret cat society. YAY! they all say. Cat says come to my house and we'll do the secret initiation ceremony. YAY! They go. Cat lines mice up single file (do this with children) and teaches them the secret song:
When we march
We never look back.
The cat is at the end, fo feng!
Everyone sings and marches; storyteller (cat) follows them and nips off the end mouse until she reaches Mabella, then has Mabella remember her father's advice: ears--doesn't hear mouse footsteps/eyes--doesn't see any mice behind her/listen to self (and awareness dawns!)/MOVE FAST! Cat doesn't catch her. Closing: To this very day, the Limba people say, that if a person is very clever, it is because someone (perhaps their father?) has taught them cleverness.

13) The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iqqulden and Hal Iqqulden. (2007)
Equal parts droll and gorgeous nostalgia book and heartfelt plea for a renewed sense of adventure in the lives of boys and men, Conn and Hal Iggulden's The Dangerous Book for Boys became a mammoth bestseller in the United Kingdom in 2006. Adapted, in moderation, for American customs in this edition (cricket is gone, rugby remains; conkers are out, Navajo Code Talkers in), The Dangerous Book is a guide book for dads as well as their sons, as a reminder of lore and technique that have not yet been completely lost to the digital age. Recall the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme, relearn how to palm a coin, tan a skin, and, most charmingly, wrap a package in brown paper and string. The book's ambitions are both modest and winningly optimistic: you get the sense that by learning how to place a splint or write in invisible ink, a boy might be prepared for anything, even girls (which warrant a small but wise chapter of their own).

14) Biscuit Loves Father's Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories (illus). (2004 - Baby-Preschool)
Let's celebrate Father's Day, Biscuit!
Father's Day is a great time to show Dad how much we love him. Unfold the big flaps and join Biscuit for fun times with Dad -- exploring, playing, and sharing.

15) It's Father's Day, Charlie Brown! (Peanuts) (Peanuts) by Charles M. Schulz (illus), Judy Katschke (adapter) and Tom Brannon (illus). (2004 - Baby-Preschool)
From the Peanuts book collection. It's Father's Day, Charlie Brown! Charlie Brown is determined to find the perfect present for his dad. Lucy makes a card, Snoopy writes a letter, and Peppermint Patty tires to call her father (and gets Charlie Brown instead), but none of their ideas seems quite right. Finally, when Charlie Brown decides to try to win a baseball game for his dad, he learns an important lesson about the meaning of Father's Day. For ages 4 to 10 (grades P through 5). 24 pages. Measures 8" x 8".

16) A Day With Daddy (My First Reader) by Louise Gikow and Gustavo Mazail (illus). (2004 - Ages 4-8)
Young children wil love learning to read with these storybooks. Once they can recognize and identify the words used to tell each story, the will be able to successfully read on their own. Features a word list.

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Created 2002; last update 5/22/11


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