Missing Daddy

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Missing Daddy Book Poster Image
Gentle message of caring for child of an imprisoned father.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows how feelings about family members, especially parents, can be complicated.

Positive Messages

You aren't alone in missing an absent parent, and it's OK to feel lots of different ways.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The young girl has lots of support at school from teachers and counselors, and at home from her mom and grandma.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mariame Kaba's Missing Daddy uses simple language and gentle images to reassure a girl with an imprisoned dad that she isn't alone and her complex feelings matter. The young Black girl's feelings bounce from happy to sad, hurt to comforted, with the same jumbled emotions that many young readers with incarcerated family members can relate to. The illustrations by Bria Royal are soft and simple, able to hold together both the child's anxiety about visiting day and her sweet memories of her dad. The discussion guide at the end of the book offers important questions for children and caregivers.

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What's the story?

MISSING DADDY, by Mariame Kaba, chronicles the range of emotions a young Black girl feels about her father being in a prison far away from her, revealing the depth of her sadness and the strength of her love. At home, she talks with her grandmother about why he's away. At school, her teacher helps her understand how every family is different, but a classmate whispers that she's a criminal just like her dad. She gets most excited about visiting days, when she and her grandma travel a full day to see her beloved daddy, who welcomes her with open arms.

Is it any good?

This essential book for children facing the absence of incarcerated parents uses clear, compassionate language to connect and reassure. It's also a reminder to caregivers that children's feelings are complicated, contradictory, and completely valid. The warm, loving illustrations in Missing Daddy pull on heartstrings, showing fireflies dancing on the edges of the page and her nervous excitement for visiting day when she can see her daddy. The discussion guide at the end offers well-considered questions to help readers understand the complex nature of situations they might not be able to imagine, and a way for children with absent family members to feel heard.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how it feels when a family member is absent, whether it's for a longer time like in Missing Daddy or for a short trip. How does their absence change the rest of the family?

  • What can you do if you hear someone being hurtful to another person?

  • Who do you talk to when you feel worried or sad?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and stories of families

Themes & Topics

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