Books for Kids: Tell Me a Tattoo Story

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Tell Me a Tattoo Story
Chronicle Books / Raincoast Books
By Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
32 pages
age 3-5

Synopsis from Raincoast Books:

The father tells his little son the story behind each of his tattoos, and together they go on a beautiful journey through family history. There’s a tattoo from a favorite book his mother used to read him, one from something his father used to tell him, and one from the longest trip he ever took. And there is a little heart with numbers inside-which might be the best tattoo of them all..

Growing up, tattoos were something men would get as proof of their manliness or unsavoury women would adorn their skin. As I’ve grown and encountered different people, my knowledge and understanding of tattoos has also expanded. Of course everyone has their own reason for getting a tattoo but usually there’s a story attached to each one, just like in the book Tell Me a Tattoo Story.

The story is a dialog between a dad and son, though the words just show dad’s part of the conversation, implying what the son asked. The assumption is the son vocalized these questions but as parents know, the bond with our kids often leads to unspoken dialog with young kids. Tell Me a Tattoo Story reminds us that tattoos can be another form of recordings a person’s personal history, just like a journal or photographs. Even those tattoos that seem to occur on a whim or are based on a current pop culture interest, still capture a moment in time for that person, good or bad.

This also reminds me of the current ROM summer exhibit: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art

I love that Tell Me a Tattoo Story challenges the stereotype many people have around tattoos and embraces it as another art and storytelling format. Perhaps after reading this story together you can ask others to explain their own tattoo story.

Additional Reading: Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress.

You can find a copy of Tell me a Tattoo Story from Raincoast Books or your local bookstore. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations.

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2 thoughts on “Books for Kids: Tell Me a Tattoo Story”

  1. I recently discovered this book at my Library and fell head over heels in love with. it has become a staple in my baby shower gifts for the fathers since its told from the dad’s POV. And lets face it the dad’s don’t get much attention these days at baby showers.

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