Do your children see their family reflected in the pages of a favorite picture book? I hope they do, but if not, maybe one of these children’s books about families will help!
The titles below depict a wide variety of diverse families in all shapes and sizes, from multiracial, to divorced, single parent, foster families and more. Some of the books show a range of families, others focus on just one. Let me know what kind of family is missing from this list and leave your suggestions in the comments below! And be sure to visit the index of all our book lists.
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This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe. The book follows seven children from different countries: Italy, Japan, Uganda, Russia, India, Peru and Iran. Each contemporary child describes their home, school, family, food and daily life. This is a great starting point for conversations about the differences and similarities between life in different countries, but also how children in the same country don’t all live the same way. At the end, photographs reveal the actual families depicted in in the book. I love the large size of the book, and how the illustrations invite a lengthly perusal.
My Friends and Me by Stephanie Stansbie. This is a very cute book. Jamie describes the diversity of all her friends’ families. The families have a variety of parents: two dads, one mom, a foster mom, divorced parents. The families live in diverse domiciles, from large houses to houseboats. Jamie also describes a fun attribute of each of the families. Some juggle, others surf, some are really not so good at dancing. Colorful illustrations give the reader a lot to look at.
Two is Enough by Janna Matthies. A mom and her daughter experience a variety of enjoyable activities. This tale shows that a family of two can be just as full of love and smiles as a large family. A nice addition for your library shelves with a positive representation of families with single parents.
Fred Stays with Me by Nancy Coffelt. Initially, I picked up this book because I love Tricia Tusa’s illustrations. A girl describes her routine of moving back and forth between her two parents’ homes. Her dog, Fred, goes wherever she goes, providing a sense of stability and the companionship she needs during the transitions. Both parents get a little frustrated with Fred, but the girl stands her ground and insists that Fred stays with her. I enjoyed this book because it didn’t make a fuss over the girl’s living situation, neither was the resolution overly sentimental. Highly recommended.
Emily’s Blue Period by Catherine Daly. This is another thoughtful book depicting a divorced family. Emily loves art, especially Picasso. Her family situation saddens her and she announces her artistic “blue period.” Her art allows her to process the range of emotions she feels about her parent’s divorce, allowing the story to come through with out a lot of long, explanatory test. This picture book will speak to older kids quite nicely.
In Every House on Every Street by Jess Hitchman. This families book is a little different than the others on this list in that the majority of the book is one child describing how her family lives. A young, white red-headed girl in a multi-racial family (the mother is white, her father and brother have brown skin) details the fun the family has in their home and on each page spread a different room in the house is shown. At the end of the book, the girl asks if the reader’s house is similar to hers and a die cut two page fold out opens up to reveal all kinds of families in their homes.
A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary. In a classroom full of diverse students, a teacher asks the children to describe their families. They are all different. Some have a mom and dad, another lives with their grandparent, another has divorced parents, another step-siblings. There are LGBTQ families, disabled parents, foster families and more. The narrator is a child listening to all of the descriptions and realizes that all families are special because they are made up of people who love each other.
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer. Stella doesn’t feel different than the other kids, but she realizes her parents are different from a lot of the other families she knows. Her school class is planning a Mother’s Day celebration, so Stella comes up with a way to include her two dads. The lovely way the book communicates that schools can accept families of all kinds sends a positive message that families may look different, but the love is the same.
Monday is One Day by Arthur A. Levine. I love this sweet picture book. Diverse families spend each week day engaging in ordinary activities. But each day is somehow punctuated with something special for families to connect with each other. When the weekend rolls around, children, parents and other loved ones come together to celebrate. The illustrations depict all kinds of families!
I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada. is a wonderfully uplifting story about a girl who spends Saturdays with her English-speaking grandparents and Sundays with her Spanish-speaking abuelos. She describes the joys of each visit and the reader instantly sees the parallels and how much the family loves one another. In the end, everyone comes together for the little girl’s birthday. There are a lot of Spanish words and phrases but no glossary (at least not in my library copy), but English-only readers will have no problem understanding the story.
My Two Grannies and My Two Grandads by Floella Benjamin. Both books have similar themes: one grandparent is from the Carribbean, the other from England. Each has a very different personality from the other. However, with the help of their grandchild, they learn to appreciate each other’s difference and make a little music in the meantime.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco. I’ve mentioned before that you can always count on finding a book to suit your needs if you turn to Polacco’s enormous oeuvre. In this story, young black girl narrates her happy familial existence. She has two moms and a multicultural, adopted family. They have loving traditions and a warm, affectionate home life. Unfortunately a neighbor directly confronts the family to tell them she doesn’t approve of their family! Use this book to talk to your kids about how others are afraid of what they do not understand (a wise lesson that one of the mothers in the book teaches her child) and challenge your kids to think about how we can overcome prejudice and open people’s hearts.
More books about adoptive families: Children’s Books about Adoption
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. This book tells the real life story of how one couple fought for and won their right to be legally married in the state of Virginia. The reason that Virginia wouldn’t recognize their marriage? She was black and he was white.
More children’s books about families: