It is important for children to be able to see themselves in some of the books that they read. It can be particularly challenging to find materials that display families that look just like your child’s. We have collected the titles of some of our favourite picture and board books that celebrate and normalize families that might not fit into the traditional moulds of the past.
Love Makes a Family is a colourful, busy board book written and illustrated by Sophie Beer. Each sturdy page gives an example of what love is with families depicted in the illustrations. The best part about this short but sweet book is that each family pictured is different. Whether a child has one parent or two, two dads or a single caregiver, most children will be able to identify with at least one of the children in the images.
My Family, Your Family is written by Kathryn Cole, and illustrated by Cornelia Li. Another board book, this one only has two words per page and each spread shares a comparison. This is another book that almost any child will be able to connect with, whether their family is large or small, single parent or raised by a grandparent.
Separation and divorce is a challenging situation to depict in a young child’s picture book, but Weekend Dad does just that, in an honest and gentle way. Frank Viva uses only a few colours in his illustrations. Author Naseem Hrab’s words tell the story of a little boy who experiences his dad moving out of the family home into an apartment. Hrab touches on the feelings and thoughts of the little boy as the week progresses, and his experiences once the weekend he is spending with his father arrives. Nothing is the same, some of it is scary, but all of his feelings are valid. It’s not a book that has a big dramatic finale, but it’s a touching story.
Just the Way We Are is written from the point of view of several different children. Each child’s family is made up differently. You will find Anna who lives with her mom, her dad, and her grandfather. Chiara talks about the adventures she has with her two dads. Henry describes living part time with his mom and brother, and part time with his dad and brother. Written by Jessica Shirvington and illustrated by Claire Robertson, Just the Way We Are is a lovely picture book that shows that not all families look the same, but they are still perfect just as they are.
Stella Brings the Family is written by Miriam B. Schiffer, and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown. Stella is a bright little girl whose classmates are concerned when she is not acting like herself. Stella, as it turns out, is worried about the upcoming Mother’s Day party because she has two dads, not a mom and dad. Stella finds a solution (invite all her family members!) and the reader learns that while Stella may not have a mom at home, she has all the things she needs to feel loved and cared for. Pay close attention to the final illustration; it’s a great way to engage your little reader and ask what they think will happen next.
There is immense value in all children witnessing diversity in race, colour, and ability in books as well as experiencing stories that show just how unique, special, and ultimately perfect all families can be regardless of how they are made up. Celebrate Family Day by reading one of the many beautiful books we have shared!
Place these titles or other books on hold with your library card online at www.tbpl.ca If you don’t have a card yet, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 345-8275 (Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm) and we’ll get you set up!
Jana O’Flaherty – http://www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you.