Children's Books about Families
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A thematic unit on families is a great way to begin the year with a new class of preschool children. A family unit supports children in countless ways, including easing their transitions, helping them learn about the other boys and girls in the class, and strengthening their self-awareness.
Teachers can draw on the following books to explore the rich diversity of families with preschoolers:
- A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams. 1982. New York: Greenwillow Books. When the home Rosa shares with her mother and grandmother is destroyed by fire, the family saves up their spare change to buy a new chair.
- A Day with Dad, by Bo R. Holmberg. Illus. by Eva Eriksson. 2008. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. Tim’s father lives in a different town, but when he comes to visit Tim on the train, father and son spend a special day together.
- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Illus. by Henry Cole. 2005. New York: Simon & Schuster. Silo and Roy, two male chinstrap penguins, fall in love and raise baby Tango together.
- Annie Rose Is My Little Sister, by Shirley Hughes. 2003. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. Big brother Alfie lovingly discusses the different things he and his younger sister do together.
- Black Is Brown Is Tan, by Arnold Adoff. Illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. 2002. New York: Harper Collins. New illustrations accompany the original 1973 text, which explores and celebrates multiracial families.
- Dear Juno, by Soyung Pak. Illus. by Susan Kathleen Hartung. 1999. New York: Penguin. Juno figures out a creative way to communicate with his Korean grandmother who lives far away in Seoul.
- Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti, by Anna Grossnickle Hines. 1999. New York: Clarion. Corey’s dad makes the evening routine fun by cooking great spaghetti, dressing up as Bathman, and pretending to be a barking dog.
- Every Year on Your Birthday, by Rose A. Lewis. Illus. by Jane Dyer. 2007. New York: Brown, Little. A mother shares thoughts and memories from her adopted Chinese daughter’s previous birthdays.
- Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers. Illus. by Marla Frazee. 2001. San Diego: Harcourt. Nursing, rocking, giggling, and growing—this book celebrates babies and all that they do.
- The Family Book, by Todd Parr. 2003. New York: Little, Brown. This colorful, lively story celebrates many different types of families, including stepfamilies, families with two moms or two dads, and single-parent families.
- Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt. Illus. by Tricia Tusa. 2007. New York: Little, Brown. A little girl whose parents are divorced runs into trouble when her dog, Fred, starts misbehaving.
- Has Anyone Seen My Emily Greene? by Norma Fox Mazer. Illus. by Christine Davenier. 2007. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. It’s time for lunch and the table is set, but Emily Greene is hiding. Will her father find her?
- Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman. Illus. by Diana Souza. 2000. Los Angeles: Alyson Wonderland. In this now classic story, Heather, a preschooler with two moms, discovers that many of her friends have very different sorts of families.
- Jamaica Tag-Along, by Juanita Havill. Illus. by Anne Sibley O’Brien. 1989. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Jamaica is hurt when her older brother doesn’t want her to tag along with him and his friends. But when she begins playing with a younger child, she learns an important lesson.
- In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, by Javaka Steptoe. 1997. New York: Lee and Low Books. This collection of poems honoring African American fathers won the 1998 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.
- Lots of Grandparents, by Shelley Rotner and Sheila Kelly. 2003. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook. Full of photographs, this simple book celebrates many different kinds of grandparents.
- Mystery Bottle, by Kristen Balouch. 2006. New York: Hyperion. A young boy and his Iranian grandfather are brought together by a magic bottle.
- My Hippie Grandmother, by Reeve Lindbergh. Illus. by Abby Carter. 2003. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. A little girl describes all the things she loves to do with her hippie grandmother—from selling veggies at the farmer’s market to picketing city hall.
- On Mother’s Lap, by Ann Herbert Scott. Illus. by Glo Coalson. 1992. Clarion Books: New York. An Eskimo boy learns that there is room for everyone on his mother’s lap, even his new baby sister.
- Quinito, Day and Night, by Ina Cumpiano. Illus. by Jose Ramirez. 2008. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press. In this bilingual book (English and Spanish), Quinito and his family introduce readers to the world of opposites.
Young Children Articles
Bennett-Armistead, V.S., N.K. Duke, & A. Moses. 2007. Ideas for families: Materials for reading, A to Z. Beyond the Journal: Young Children on the Web, May 2007.
Birckmayer, J., J. Cohen, I.D. Jensen, & D.A. Variano. 2005. Children’s books about family relationships and experiences. Beyond the Journal: Young Children on the Web, May 2005.
Rowell, E. 2007. Missing! Picture books reflecting gay and lesbian families: Make the curriculum inclusive for all children. Young Children 62 (3): 24–30.