The History Behind Fathers Day, and 4 Books About Fathers; For Fathers

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Article by: Lesalon Kasaine

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Hello, world, it’s Fathers Day! It’s a unique day where we stop, to appreciate the fathers that life has blessed us with, whether biological or otherwise. A father is more than just a title. Fatherhood goes deeper to reveal a male presence in our lives, a presence that holds our hands and supports us through thick and thin.

So go ahead and tell me, whom are you celebrating today?

But first, let’s all take a class in history. It’s going to be interesting, I promise. We are taking a brief tour back to the year 1910.

The history behind fathers day

On June 5th, 1910, a young woman going by the name Sonora approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance with a petition, in Spokane, Washington. Her request was straightforward, one that would later lead to the birth of Fathers Day.

Earlier on, a group of people had convened at the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) to celebrate Mothers Day. Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman who had been brought up by a single dad, wondered: If we are celebrating mothers, why not fathers, who like my own, have been through the wringer but still stood strong for their kids?

Fathers too, Sonora felt, needed recognition and warmth. They deserved it. That set off her resolve; she was hell-bent on pushing for Fathers Day. Sonora had watched as her father diligently and single-handedly cared for his children, leaving no stone unturned when it came to protecting and providing for Sonora and her siblings.

But who was this man, the inspiration behind Fathers Day?

William Jackson Smart, the inspiration behind fathers day

After death took away his beloved wife, sadness engulfed him, and he grieved. His wife had left him with five children. The widower would later find love again, this time in the arms of a widow who had three children from her previous matrimony. Together, they had six more kids, making our hero the father of 14 kids. But then in a sad twist of fate, his second wife would die too, making him a two-time widower. Our hero’s name is William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran.

Sonora’s petition found a soft spot in the hearts of the then decision-makers, and it came to pass that since then, a day was set apart to celebrate fathers. Fathers would have their day on every third Sunday of the month of June. History remembers this, and we remember too. A standing ovation to you, Sonora, for you are the reason we congregate today at this page, to talk about fathers. Bravo!

4 books to consider reading or gifting a father on this day

Now that we are well-versed with the history behind this great day, we would love to celebrate fathers through a carefully assembled list of four books (with brief tasters), written for fathers and about fathers.

One Last Thing Before I Go, by Jonathan Trooper

This first-time novel by Jonathan Trooper introduces us to Drew Silver, a man whose remaining days on earth can be measured without too much counting. His heart is failing, and not even an urgent heart surgery can guarantee his salvation.

Long gone are the days his role as the drummer of a rock band bathed him in fame. He is now lonely, like a forgotten lifeboat swaying back and forth on a raging ocean. His ex-wife has said yes to the marriage proposal of another man; a man Jonathan considers better. Moreover, Casey, his teenage daughter, has broken the news that she is expecting a child.

Jonathan makes a shocking decision only a father could. He refuses to go into surgery, convinced that he may not come out alive. Instead, his decision is to use the remaining time to patch up his relationship with his daughter before death salvages what’s left of his life.

Papa, Do You Love Me? By Barbara M. Joosse and Barbara Lavallee

I’ll put it out here, that this is a children’s book, complete with excellent illustrations. However, it’s a read that stirs, in both children and adults, the veracity of the role of a father.

This picture book set in Africa brackets the culture of the Maasai, and slaloms through the universal love between father and child. It was released as a sequel to the best-selling book, Mama, Do You Love Me?

In this book, the question as to whether his father loves him plagues a young boy. And when he asks it, his world opens up to the unconditional love his father holds for him.

Listen to the reading of this book on YouTube.

Baba: Men and Fatherhood in South Africa, by various authors

Call it the ultimate collegiality between authors coming from different backgrounds, with just one mission. To appreciate the role of fathers. Each author pens an essay that explores the place of fatherhood in the upbringing of a man.

The authors do a great job at shedding light on how the presence or absence of a father figure affects the life of a man and his family. Published in 2006, this book is a great contribution to conversations around fathers and fatherhood.

In My Fathers Arms I Am Tall: African-Americans celebrating fathers

Here's another work conceived through the coming together of various writers; this time, poets. Their mission: to remind the world about fathers, through words intimately strung together to tell the story of fathers and fatherhood. The book employs humour to gracefully honour fathers, and Amazon describes it as an intergenerational collection of poetry, celebrating fatherhood.

A Happy Fathers Day to all the amazing dads out there!

Also read: The Impact of Parental Absence in a Child’s Life