The Book I Bought for March

I spotted this book in a TV ad for the Wounded Warriors Project. A little girl was reading it to her military dad, forever changed by the wounds he experienced in war.

In the book, a young boy explains why his dad is his superhero–even though he doesn’t have rocket-propelled boots, X-ray vision, or a cloak that makes him invisible. Instead, this dad wears Army boots, night-vision goggles, and camouflage.

Author Melinda Hardin, working for a US Department of Defense Dependent School in Germany, saw that children can encounter struggles when a parent is in the military.

Her book aims to provide some understanding and comfort, especially to young children. (Although judging from online reviews, older readers find value in the book too.)

I love the simplicity of the text and art and how well they work together. Bryan Langdo’s illustrations help children picture their dads’ work and service and, even more, identifies their emotions while dad is deployed and when he comes home.

One spread shows dad and two other soldiers with their rifles, with the right-hand page close in on one of the guns. I’m not sure I like that emphasis, given the gun-craziness around us every day, but if that’s a concern, the spread could be a good jumping-off place for family discussions.

Hero Dad doesn’t directly address less concrete reasons military dads are heroes, such as courage, willingness to sacrifice, and patriotism, which older children can begin to appreciate. But for giving younger children a sense of what dad does when he’s away and how happy he is to come home, it’s a winner.

Now there’s a companion book about moms too!

– Diane

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