Mother’s Day can be a tough time for children growing up without a mom. But kids should know their family is worth celebrating — this weekend and any time — no matter who is in it.
Children begin to understand the world and their place in it by reading books. When they see their image and that of their family represented on the page, it not only shows them they are not alone, but that they are important enough to be reflected in a book. The following 10 titles celebrate the dads, grandparents, aunts, and communities who aren't being honored, specifically, this Mother's Day, but deserve to be shown in the stories our children read nonetheless.
Kaya Thomas is a college student and founder of We Read Too, an app that showcases children’s and young adult books written by and featuring people of color. It is available in the iTunes App Store .
A Hand To Hold By Zetta Elliott & Purple Wong A little girl is comforted by holding her father’s hand wherever she goes. When it’s time for her to go to school, her father teachers her how to let go and reminds her that she can hold him in her heart until he returns. This picture book depicts the loving relationship between a father and daughter. A Hand To Hold, $10, available at Barnes & Noble.
Grandma and Me at the Flea/Los Meros Meros Remateros By Juan Felipe Herrera In this picture book, a young boy named Juanito goes with his grandma to the flea market to learn how to be a true rematero, or flea marketeer. In this bilingual tale, Juanito learns the value of community. Grandma and Me at the Flea, $5.96, available at Amazon.
A Tale of Two Daddies By Vanita Oelschlager, Kristin Blackwood & Mike Blanc A little girl talks to her classmate during recess about her two dads, whom she calls Daddy and Poppa. She answers his questions about what it’s like to have two dads and shows the boy that she has two parents who love and care for her, meanwhile showing the reader that there are different definitions of family. A Tale of Two Daddies, $8.95, available at IndieBound.
Where Is My Mommy? By Mary Kilgore This book is intended to help kids as young as preschool understand how to cope when they lose their parent. Written by a clinical social worker, the story shows the child it is not their fault if their parent is gone. Where Is My Mommy? $12.93, available at Amazon.
Families Are Different By Nina Pellegrini In this picture book, Nico realizes that there are different kinds of families. She struggles with her identity and being different than her parents who adopted her, but soon she realizes that the love they share is what's important. Families Are Different, $13.68, available at Amazon.
My Pop Pop and Me By Irene Smalls & Cathy Ann Johnson A boy and his Pop Pop bake a cake together in this rhyming tale. This picture book demonstrates a love between a grandson and his grandfather through their cooking adventures. There’s even a recipe at the end for readers to try. My Pop Pop and Me, $1.99, available at Amazon.
Finding The Right Spot By Janice Levy & Whitney Martin A young girl living with her aunt copes with being separated from her mother. Her aunt shows her that they can make a home and find joy together. This tale shows how a new family can be formed during hard times, and how children can cope with separation from their parents. Finding the Right Spot, $9.95, available at Amazon.
Kevin and His Dad By Irene Smalls & Michael Hays This picture books demonstrates the relationship between a father and son. Kevin and his dad do the household chores and then have fun together. It's a great story for toddlers, showing how parents can take on various roles in the family. Kevin and His Dad, $16.98, available at Amazon.
Indian Shoes By Cynthia Leitich Smith & Jim Madsen This chapter book follows the story of Ray Halfmoon who lives in Chicago with his Grampa after he lost both of his parents as a baby. Ray and his Grampa go on various adventures together, but Ray realizes his Grampa is homesick and tries to cheer him up by purchasing Seminole moccasins to remind him of his Seminole-Cherokee upbringing in Oklahoma. Indian Shoes, $6.76, available at Amazon.
My Nana And Me By Irene Smalls & Cathy Ann Johnson In this story, a granddaughter and her grandmother share the day, having tea parties, doing each other’s hair, playing hide-and-seek and more. The picture book shows the cherished relationship between a girl and her grandmother. My Nana and Me, $3.99, available at Amazon. Welcome to if Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about kids or not, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.