Susan Kerner, Author
Ian P. Benfold Haywood, Illustrator
Star Bright Books, Fiction, 2013
Suitable for Ages: 5-8 years
Themes: Absence of a father, Loss, Love, Families
Opening: “If you ask me where my daddy is, this is what I’ll say: He’s in me and around me, never far away.”
Synopsis: This is a story that will help children understand that a dad’s love is forever. Even if they grow up without his presence in their lives. He’s in the trees, the waves, in the wind and in the sunshine’s rays. And when they sing or move their hands in a certain way, Mama is there to say, “You’re a lot like your daddy.”
What I like this book: This is a beautiful and heartwarming story for children experiencing the loss or absence of a father. Susan Kerner gives no specific reason for a loss in her lovely rhyming text. Fathers may be absent for many reasons like work, military deployments, divorce, incarceration, and death. Through comforting verse, Kerner’s shows that their fathers are still part of them, whether it’s in their mannerisms and likeness to him or in everyday activities and nature. This book can be read to any child experiencing a father’s absence and help them know they are still loved. And Mama is there to remind them,“No matter the day, the month, the year, the weather, the tears, or smiles…Daddy is always by your side, guiding you all the while.” Haywood’s illustrations are lively, colorful and ethnically diverse. Families coping with loss will find Always By My Side a helpful grief book.
Susan Kerner: Shortly after marrying the love of her life, her husband died of cancer before their first child was born. Her book is inspired by her own experiences. According to Kerner, Always By My Side has become popular among military families.