Families can look many different ways. When I was growing up, children’s books only depicted white families with two to three children doing family things or animal families with a few children doing family things. Most did not reflect the diverse realities of many families or mine, for that matter. As a child raised by a single parent, surrounded by extended family (grandfather, aunts, and dozens of cousins), I couldn’t find my experience in any book. Thankfully, we are starting to see some change, and there are many more books that show the richness and diversity of many families doing ordinary family things. This month, we’ve been highlighting many of them on social media.
Our Family-Themed book collection contains over 150 titles. Here are a few of our favorites:
Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn, Ruth Hearson (Ages 0-3)
Leo, Lola’s little brother from Leo Loves Baby Time, is back in a new adventure at the pool.
Leo loves the water! Leo and Daddy go to swim class where they kick, bounce, splash around, and dive like little fish. Joining other babies and their caretakers in the pool is a guarantee for unforgettable fun. This sweet story full of action and sound effects is a gentle introduction to pool facilities and parent-child swim lessons with a cast of diverse families who love to splash and play together.
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora (Ages o-3)
A toddler plays a game of peekaboo, and you’re invited to play too. First, there’s Mommy to find, with Daddy not far behind. Then Puppy comes peeking around the corner, and a favorite toy train brings the toddler to Grandma and Grandpa. Isadora’s brilliant, joyful pastel illustrations capture the familiar and cozy people, toys, and animals that will delight babies.
Join this sweet toddler in the morning fun, sharing words your baby can repeat and pictures your baby will recognize. Then find out what this toddler sees next. It could be you!
More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera Williams (Ages 3-7)
Here are Little Guy, Little Pumpkin, and Little Bird. Their grownups love them. So will you!
For lap time, classroom reading, or anytime, and for parents, teachers, grandparents, and anyone who enjoys chanting along more more more with babies. A good gift for a preschool library at home or school, and baby showers. Shelve this alongside Moo Baa La La La, Giraffes Can’t Dance, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke, Angela Brooksbank (Ages 2-5)
In this story, mama and baby shop in a very crowded West African food market. As mama is busy shopping, a curious baby captures the attention of various food sellers and is able to collect 6 bananas, 5 oranges, 4 chin-chin biscuits, 3 roasted sweet corn, and 2 coconuts. With each treat he receives, he eats one and puts the rest in mama’s basket, unbeknownst to her. Finally, mama notices that her basket has gotten very heavy. Mama decides to race home because surely baby must be so hungry by now. 😉
Welcome to the Party by Gabrielle Union, Ashley Evans (Ages 4-8)
Inspired by the eagerly awaited birth of her daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade, New York Times bestselling author and award-winning actress Gabrielle Union pens a festive and universal love letter from parents to little ones, perfect for welcoming a baby to the party of life. Reminiscent of favorites such as The Wonderful Things You’ll Be by Emily Winfield Martin, I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb, and Take Heart, My Child by Ainsley Earhardt, Welcome to the Party is an upbeat celebration of new life that you’ll want to enjoy with your tiny guest of honor over and over again.
Saturday by Oge Mora (Ages 4-8)
Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don’t work out exactly the way you expect…
In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.
I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, Jason Rachel Brown, Anoosh Syed (Ages 4-8)
“When you first saw me, you said,
“He is perfectly designed from his head to his toes.”
On a walk through the city, a boy and his dad recount some of their favorite memories and moments. From playdates in the park, picnics under the tree, and the strength behind a hug, they know that their bond is special. But what happens when the boy grows up? Their memories will carry them forward because they are perfectly designed for each other.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful and celebrate the father and son’s special bond. It also does a beautiful job highlighting the diversity of the neighborhood. For those Queer Eye fans, you can also spot the rest of the Fab 5 if you pay close attention.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (Ages 4-8)
One day as Julian and his abuela return home from swimming, three beautiful mermaids board the train. Julian LOVES mermaids. He is mesmerized by their beauty, their long hair, and gowns laying like tails. He begins to fantasize about what it would be like to be a mermaid. As he returns home, he tells his grandmother that he, too, is also a mermaid. As she showers, he begins his transformation, pulling different items from around the house.
Now, caught by his grandmother, what will she say? She lovingly hands him a string of pearls and leads him back through the neighborhood. “Where are we going?” he asks. It’s not until they reach the Coney Island Mermaid Parade that he finds where he belongs.
Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning (Ages 4-7)
A little girl wakes in the night to mysterious, inviting noises. She rouses her brother, and they sneak downstairs and peek into the kitchen. To their amazement and delight, their parents are dancing and singing—“?Como te quiero! Oh, how I love you!” —as they clean up and put food away. Mama and Papa discover the two kids and sweep them into the embrace of a family dance. Slowly, the song changes to a lullaby. . . the children close sleepy eyes. . . then Mama and Papa tuck them into bed again. The story reads like poetry. The art moves from subdued tones to hot tropical colors and back again. And as you turn the pages, you can almost hear the music—changing from a pop ballad to a hot tango to a cozy lullaby. All in all, it’s a perfect bedtime book with a satisfying hugs-and-kisses ending.
Ana and Andrew Summer In Savannah by Christine Platt, Sharon Sordo (Ages 5-8)
Ana & Andrew travel to visit their grandparents in Savannah, Georgia. While they are there, they learn Grandma and Grandpa’s church was built by slaves. With some help from an unusual source!
The Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith (Ages 6-8)
Azaleah’s big sister, Nia, has been cast as Willa Wonka in the school musical, and the entire Lane family is looking forward to the show. Azaleah has even helped plan a surprise dinner party for Nia at Avec Amour, Mama’s restaurant. But then the real drama starts. At the first rehearsal, all sorts of things go wrong: missing batteries, sets falling over, props misplaced . . . It’s so many things that Azaleah suspects “foul play.” And when the special effects on Nia’s costume don’t work at dress rehearsal, Nia is a nervous wreck. To top it all off, the high school journalism class is covering the performance for the school blog, and the director doesn’t have time to replace Nia’s costume. Nia has to wear it without the special effects. Azaleah becomes determined to make sure the musical isn’t ruined for Nia. Azaleah has to get to the bottom of the mysterious rehearsal troubles, and finish party preparations, before the curtain goes up.
Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas by Juana Medina (Ages 5-8)
Juana’s life is just about perfect. She lives in the beautiful city of Bogotá with her two most favorite people in the world: her mami and her dog, Lucas. Lately, though, things have become a little less perfect. Mami has a new hairdo and a new amigo named Luis, with whom she has been spending a LOT of time. He is kind and teaches Juana about things like photography and jazz music, but sometimes Juana can’t help wishing things would go back to the way they were before. When Mami announces that she and Luis are getting married and that they will all be moving to a new casa, Juana is quite distraught. Lucky for her, though, some things will never change — like how much Mami loves her. Based on author-illustrator Juana Medina’s own childhood in Colombia, this joyful series is sure to resonate with readers of all ages.
Jaden Toussaint the Greatest: Quest for Screen Time by Dumas Marti, Muravski Marie (Ages 5-8)
Giant Afro. Even Bigger Brain. Jaden Toussaint is a five-year-old who knows it all. I mean, really knows it all. Animal Scientist. Great Debater. Master of the art of ninja dancing. There’s nothing Jaden Toussaint can’t do. The only problem is that grown-ups keep trying to convince him that, even though he’s really smart, he doesn’t know EVERYTHING. The thing is…he kind of does. This time our hero must use all his super-powered brain power to convince the grown-ups that he needs more screen time.
Sophia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty, David Roberts (Ages 5-7)
Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school . . . until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill, and he can no longer do so. Sofia (aka Sofi) misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea–the town can turn the slimy mess into a park. She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall–only to be told by a clerk that she can’t build a park because she’s just a kid Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.
The Season of Styxx Malone by Kekla Magoon (Ages 8-12)
Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene are excited to have adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town.
Then Caleb and Bobby Gene meet new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx is sixteen and oozes cool. Styx promises the brothers that together, the three of them can pull off the Great Escalator Trade–exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dream. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. Styx has secrets–secrets so big they could ruin everything.
Isaiah Dunn is My Superhero by Kelly J. Baptiste (Ages 8-12)
Ten-year-old Isaiah Dunn is trying to be the hero that his dad writes about in his journals, but he struggles. Since the death of his father a year ago, his sister Charlie is continuously asking questions, mama seems to be withdrawing and drinking just a little bit more, and he can’t quite seem to get all of the words circling through his head out on paper like he used to.
As his mom copes with the grief of losing her husband, the family loses their home and moves into the “Smoky Inn.” If only Isaiah can earn enough money to find a place of their own, everything will be okay. He clings to his dad’s journals for hope and to escape his current reality. As he sets a plan in motion, he learns a valuable lesson about the power of community and what real strength is.
Summer in the City by Fracaswell Hyman (Ages 8-12)
Where Mango goes, drama is sure to follow! It’s summer break, and Mango is content to spend her time babysitting her brother, hanging with her friend Izzy, and binge-watching movies late into the night. Then she runs into her drama teacher, who has some big news: their middle school play Yo, Romeo! is headed to the stage in New York City . . . and he wants Mango for the lead role! After overcoming her mom’s initial reluctance–and with some firm rules established–Mango goes off to Brooklyn to stay with her Aunt Zendaya in a teeny apartment and prepare for her theatrical debut. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but soon Mango must confront homesickness, insecurity, and the all-important question of what it means to be a good friend–especially when you’re far away from the people you love.
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano, Mirelle Ortega (Ages 8-12)
Leonora Logro o’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.
Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration–but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have, in fact, been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas–witches of Mexican ancestry–who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.
Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business–even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.
And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ages 8-12)
Framed. Bullied. Disliked. But I know I can still be the best.
Sometimes, 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, most of the students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbing him “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey.
When he’s bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, “King” Alan, he’s suspended from school and arrested.
Terrified, searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden’s help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on taking down the fencing team captain, no matter what.
As Donte hones his fencing skills and grows closer to achieving his goal, he learns the fight for justice is far from over. Now Donte must confront his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest.
Check out these and other books in our Family-themed collection. What books would you add to this list? Comment below.
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