A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows many kinds of dads sharing inimate, everyday moments with their sons.
"You'll love him./ You'll listen./ You'll be his supporter./ When life feels in shambles,/ You'll help him find order." "He'll feel happiness, sorrow/ One day be heartbroken./ You'll tell him 'I love you.'/ Those words always spoken."
Positive Role Models
All the different dads are loving, attentive, supportive. The father-son pairs have varying skin tones and hair styles. One pair appears to be Sikh, with the dad in a turban and his soccer-playing son with his hair up in a bun. One dad has dreadlocks. Another is in a wheelchair. On one spread, the son wears a tutu over leggings to stretch his leg over the bench in a ballet move, while his dad does the same move wearing a tutu over his pants.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Bench is a warm picture book by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, about the special bond between father and child, seen through the eyes of a mom. The text began as a poem she wrote for her husband, Prince Harry of England, for Father's Day a month after their first child, Archie, was born. Caldecott and Newbery-winning illustrator Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street) provides tender watercolors of different father-son pairs, of various skin colors, sharing special, everyday moments on various benches. The benches serve as touchstones for the relationship, from places of comfort and sharing to spots to celebrate a sports victory or a soldier dad's homecoming.
Is It Any Good?
This sweet celebration of the special bond between father-son bond captures the reality as well as the aspirations to a positive life to come as the boy grows up. The Bench serves as a symbol of the solid, unwavering love that grounds the realationship. "This is your bench/ for papa and son .../ to celebreate joys/ And victories won." But it also acknowledges there will be hard times and tears. "You'll sit on this bench/ As his giving tree,/ Some days he may cry/ Perched there on your knee."
Some of the rhymes seem forced, like "The place you'll call home" with "Where you'll never be 'lone." But the warm, gentle, upbeat vibe and illustrator Christian Robinson's inclusive representation of father-son pairs make the total package charming and relatable.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.