Do Dads Get a Fair Look in MG Books?

Father’s Day is fast approaching and this Sunday it will be time to celebrate our dads. Happy Father’s Day!

I’ve read a lot of middle grade books the past year where the dad is not portrayed in the best light. In fact, it felt like a large number of dads in MG books were not doing their job of being a father. My curiosity took control as I wondered whether the books I’ve read really did predominantly have a poor role model father. Or could it be I was remembering the bad and forgetting the fathers who were there for their kids.

I went back to every book I read since the last Father’s Day (60 total). It wasn’t difficult as I reviewed many of them here and the rest remain on my bookshelf. I placed each dad in one of four categories. The final percentages are different than expected.

DAD IS DIVORCED OR WALKED OUT AND HASN’T BEEN SEEN SINCE (39%)

DAD HOME AND A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL IN CHILD’S LIFE (31%)

DAD IS DEAD (15%)

DAD HOME BUT NOT A PART OF CHILD”S LIFE (15%)

The largest category could probably be split as many divorced dads in books do a fine job of staying connected with their kids.

Do the results stand up to all recent MG books. Yes, I’d say this is a pretty good sample size.

Do the results parallel real life? I’d hope not, but I’m probably wrong.

What do you think? Are dad’s getting a fair shake in MG books?

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
This entry was posted in Book Lists, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Do Dads Get a Fair Look in MG Books?

  1. Braden Bell says:

    I don’t think dads do get a fair shake in MG literature–but I don’t think it’s unique to MG literature. It’s something I think is a big part of most media in our culture today.

    • Hi Braden. I think you’ve made a great point. Just look at several hours of TV any night of the week. As writers we can balance the perception of dads with our stories. Hope you had a great school year!

  2. moniquebucheger says:

    Dads get a fair shake in my Ginnie West Adventures series. (Secret Sisters Club, Trouble Blows West, Simply West of Heaven, & Being West is Best, and even in my picture book: Popcorn) It’s one of the many reasons I write it. Sitcoms and such often portray dads as an ATM or the foil– but don’t seem to embrace the importance of having a or being a good dad. Dads are VERY important. More people need to get the memo. Thanks for helping spread the word. 🙂

  3. I’m glad to hear about Ginnie West as we have not crossed paths yet. I’ll take care of that soon with some upcoming summer reading. I’m glad you are portraying dads in a positive light. Thanks for stopping by today.

    • moniquebucheger says:

      I’m glad I came across your blog. 🙂

      I have read 2 of Braden’s books and agree with your assessment. Ginnie is a half-orphaned girl being raised by a loving, hands-on, though-too-strict-for-her-taste-at-times dad. 🙂 Her dad was orphaned at 11 and raised by his aunt and uncle. His aunt dies after he married and Ginnie, her twin brother, and her dad move into the West family farmhouse after Ginnie’s mom dies.

      She is being raised by 4 men and her dad’s 1st cousin–her surrogate mother figure until Ginnie and her best friend, Tillie, scheme to set her dad up with Tillie’s divorcee mom. 🙂

      I hope you do check out the Wests– the story is heavy on good dads in all 4 books. 😉

      Your books look interesting–and the first one downright funny. I’ll put them on my reading list. It’s nice getting to know you. 🙂

      • Sounds very intriguing. Thanks for taking the time to share the background. I’ll be sure to seek out your stories on Kindle.

      • moniquebucheger says:

        I tried looking your books up on amazon.com–but couldn’t find them. Where would they be? 🙂

      • I’m trying to get traditionally published which is a slow process, so you won’t find them yet. In the mean time I keep writing. I’d be happy to send THE BIRTHDAY JINX as a PDF if you’re interested. Otherwise, I’ll let you know when they become available. Thanks for your interest.

  4. One of my favorite recent story dads is Diggy’s dad, Pop, in Steering Toward Normal. If you haven’t read it, do put that one on your TBR list. But I think overall, dads aren’t portrayed very well in this genre.

    • moniquebucheger says:

      Some of that has to do with publishers not wanting adults in kids’ books so that kids can solve their own problems– but I think good dads are needed in this genre especially. 🙂

    • Steering Toward Normal is already on my TBR list so I may just move it up to the top. Thanks for your insights. Hope your summer is off to a great start. I’ve got a lot of reading and writing planned.

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