Getting gripped by a pregnancy or childcare book isn’t always that easy for men. Unlike women, who will read anything and everything on the subject, men are less inclined to beef up on the nitty gritty. But perhaps that’s just because they haven’t seen any good books lately. We have compiled a round-up of possible titles to wet a dad’s appetite; from the instructional to the down-right silly.
The Haynes Baby Manual: Conception to Two Years
Author: Dr Ian Banks
Publisher: Haynes Publications
Price: £14.99 from amazon>>
Taking delivery of a new baby is even more exciting than taking delivery of a new car (at least for most people). It can also be more worrying – after all, if you decide you’ve made a mistake you can’t send the baby back to the factory or trade it in for another one. Conception, pregnancy and birth can nowaddays be associated with some very high-tech equipment, but underneath the monitors and scanner screens the basic process is the same as it ever was (just as the internal combustion engine itself has not changed, despite being surrounded by electronic sensors and control units).
This manual gives you what you would expect from Haynes: down-to-earth, step-by-step instructions, written by professionals from practical experience. The manual should help you to: decide when and how to start; keep your cool in the delivery room; maintain baby’s bodywork in optimum condition; prevent corrosion of vital parts; understand the on-board diagnostic system; and decide when to call in professional assistance.
Author: Andrew Clover
Publisher: Penguin/Fig Tree
Price: £14.99 from amazon>>
My girlfriend took my hand. She said: “Andrew, let’s have children!” I knew this was a historic moment; I must respond like a man. So I ignored her. I don’t understand pregnancy. I don’t understand ho 2 cells become 4 cells which becomes someone who posts jammy biscuits in the DVD player.
The book is based on his wildly popular Sunday Times columns, but it expands on them marvellously, describing how he transformed from reluctant Dad to happiest man in Britain. It tells tales about schools, sibling squabbles, and Grans. It covers all the fears a modern parent might face: Why do I have no friends anymore? How will I stop myself turning into my father? Will we ever have sex again?
From Lad to Dad
Author: Stephen Giles
Publisher: White Ladder Press Ltd
Price: £6.39 from
‘From Lad to Dad’ is, unsurprisingly, one man’s journey through pregnancy and into fatherhood. Stephen Giles uses a journal-type format to chart his feelings, his fears and his joys from the first steps in conception to his first Christmas as a new Dad. A short book at just 106 pages, the book takes a simple narrative style, interspersed with words of advice taken from his own experience and those of other fathers who contributed. It is easy to read, written with humour, sensitivity and intelligence. The tone and approach is light, and while not avoiding the more serious issues doesn’t make anything too deep and meaningful. Imagine Nick Hornby with less football, a touch less wit and fewer euphemisms for excrement, and you get the idea. I wouldn’t class this as a useful book – it’s more entertainment than education, despite Giles’s stated intentions, and he’s never going to supplant Miriam Stoppard.
Fatherhood: The Truth
Author: Marcus Berkmann
Price: £7.25 from amazon>>
Vanessa Thorpe, writing in The Observer on 16 January 2005, said that Berkmann’s book “has a clean bash at nailing the key myths, while offering a few jokes to lighten the load necessarily bearing down on someone who is waiting to become a father.” She thought that the book, which is rather ‘blokey’ in approach and language, was quite far behind the titles out there for women, but we must bear in mind that non-fiction for men on the issue of parenting is a fairly new phenomenon; it will take some time to catch up with what’s out there for women, if it ever can.
Reassurance comes aplenty, as does humour, which the Sunday Telegraph comments on (“The laughs come in every paragraph. A masterpiece about sad, neurotic British fathers.”) and philosopher Alain de Botton agrees with, Ambitious and substantial…Berkmann is highly entertaining…with an anarchic Pythonesque sense of fun”. The fathers reviewing this on amazon.co.uk seemed pretty united in their praise for the book, liking its humour “gut
achey funny” as one described it and its educational qualities, with one reviewer saying that this need be the only book you buy. However, one man admitted to it being a bit too blokey for his liking.
The Bloke’s Guide to Pregnancy
Author: Jon Smith
Publisher: Hay House
Price: £7.19 from amazon>>
This books says that it takes a ‘warts and all’ look at pregnancy, highlighting the fact that while it takes two to make a baby, two to raise one, why shouldn’t pregnancy be a joint venture as well? The author Jon Smith wrote the book in response to the lack of male-oriented reading matter out there, with the aim of educating and entertaining his readership and it seems, from the comments and reviews on Amazon, that he has succeeded
Dad Stuff: Shedloads of Ideas for Dads
Author: Steve Caplin, Simon Rose
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Price: £7.19 from amazon>>
I actually bought this for my husband as he loves reading encyclopaedias, dictionaries etc. However, he still really hasn’t given this a proper look, which is surprising as it has some good stuff in there (that he needs to know too!). One example is ‘how to fly a kite’, which he told me when I bought him a kite, that he didn’t know how to do. Perhaps I buy him bad presents. Anyway, it has loads of advice on typical daddy activities as well as suggestions for tricks kids will love, such as burping the alphabet. Chapters include ‘Fun with everyday objects’, ‘Batteries not required’ and ‘Are we there yet?’ and one dad on amazon said that
thanks to the book his daughter thinks he’s full of fun things to do. That can’t be bad, can it?
Great Lies to Tell Small Kids
Author: Andy Riley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Price: £3.99 from amazon>>
By the same author as The Bunny Suicides, this is an indispensable book for statements and sayings that will amuse, entertain or quieten kids, depending on your need at the time. The old chestnuts such as “If the wind changes direction your face will stay that way” and “When the ice cream van chimes, that means he’s sold out” are included, there are also more unusual sayings and stories, including the vampire tooth fairy, who was bitten in Dracula’s castle. Should be as funny for parents as it is for their children.
How to be a Little Sod
Author: Simon Brett, Tony Ross (Illustrator)
Price: £4.99 from amazon>>
Voiced on TV by Rik Mayall, The Little Sod has become something of a favourite amongst humour-loving parents, both mums and dads alike, for its portrayal of how the arrival of a new baby can bring chaos to a household. Its approach is refreshing, written as it is from the point of view of the baby. While humour is obviously intended, it still can give you another perspective on what could be going on in your child’s head. And there’s more in the series should you become addicted to this!
How to be a Great Dad
Author: Ian Bruce
Publisher: Arcturus Foulsham
Price: £7.19 from amazon>>
This steers away from the laddish tones of some of the fatherhood books on the market and looks at parenting and child development from a more practical and neutral stance. It covers the initial shock of bringing home a dependent baby and explores how your role as a father will change throughout the years, according to your child’s age. Helpfully, the book is divided into different age groups: 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, and 15-20 so it should be a relevant read for the next 20 years of your parenting life! Reassuringly, the book emphasises the fact that parenthood is a process and not a sole goal to achieve, and it looks at some of the major areas where dads (and mums) may struggle, such as self-confidence, discipline, sexuality, empowerment, etc.