Father’s day is celebrated annually on the 13th of November, and to this occasion, a seminar was held in the Nordic House in Reykjavík last November. Scholars, authors, and practitioners discussed the role of fathers in children’s books, focusing particularly on the single father of Alf Atkinsl book series by the Swedish author Gunilla Bergström. 

Gunilla’s stories were published in 1972, challenging the dominant roles of fathers in children’s lives, presenting a single father as the sole carer for his son Alfl. Alf’s mother is never mentioned in these stories, unlike other stories where traditional gender roles are dominant.  We encourage everyone to read Gunilla’s books to their children as they occur in everyday life while at the same time portraying imagination, dreams, and challenges we face in our lives.  Gunilla said herself reality is fairytale enough or

No princesses, adventures, or spacemen! No flashy pictures and, above all, no pretty lies! I want to tell true stories about real people, just how they behave in everyday life. Mini-dramas on a psychological level. It’s about mischief, missing a friend, being afraid of ghosts, getting into fights, the end of Christmas….

We challenge you to look for further examples of fatherhood roles in children’s literature and see what you find. 


Gunilla Bergström – The author behind the Alfie Atkins books