Children love to see something of themselves and their families as they read. Sometimes spotting something of themselves in the main character’s personality or home life is what helps them connect to a book or foster a love in reading. When growing up in a family that is everything you need, but not the expected mom and dad with 2.5 kids and a dog, it is sometimes hard to make that connection. Thankfully, since the ‘expected’ family is becoming less of a norm for a variety of reasons I thought it would be helpful to share some children’s books with alternative families to help every child find a book that they can relate to. Here are some picture books and easy readers to share with some young readers about a variety of families.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; illustrated by Henry Cole
At New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches.
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis; illustrated by Jane Dyer
A woman describes how she went to China to adopt a special baby girl. Based on the author’s own experiences.
The Family Book by Todd Parr
Represents a variety of families, some big and some small, some with only one parent and some with two moms or dads, some quiet and some noisy, but all alike in some ways and special no matter what.
In Our Mothers’ House BY Patricia Polacco
Three young children experience the joys and challenges of being raised by two mothers.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel; illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
A young boy named Alex enjoys the homes of both of his parents who live apart but love Alex very much.
Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff; pictures by Emily Arnold McCully
When it was first published in 1973, Black is Brown is Tan featured the first interracial family in children’s books.
There are many more kinds of families, and many more books about how wonderful each is. Here are a select group of more books on the subject:Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen, Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers; illustrated by Marla Frazee, The White Swan Express: a Story about Adoption by Jean Davies Okimoto and Elaine M. Aoki; illustrated by Meilo So, Who’s in a Family? by Robert Skutch; illustrations by Laura Nienhaus, I Have Two Homes by Marian De Smet; illustrated by Nynke Talsma, Who’s Whose? by Jan Ormerod, Raising you Alone by Warren Hanson, All Families are Special by Norma Simon; illustrated by Teresa Flavin.
My list is not comprehensive, there is no way to include every good book on the subject. If I missed a great one you have run across please share it in the comments so we can all check it out!