I am delighted to share a special feature on children’s books on “families”. Every family is unique. The ten illustrated (fiction and non-fiction) books in this post cover: new siblings, adjusting to divorce, family relocation, separation anxiety, adoption, different family structures and multi-cultural families.
An ABC of Families by Abbey Williams and Paulina Morgan
First, I want to remind readers of An ABC of Families I reviewed earlier this year. This gorgeous, inclusive, and empowering alphabet picture book should be in every school and library around the world.
I wish I could just tell you the entire A to Z of entries in this post because they all deserve to be featured in my review. A is for Adoption, B is for Blended Family, C is for Co-Parenting. Each entry has a double page spread with a couple of sentences explaining what it means. The illustrations have been thoughtfully composed to represent all kinds of families, in perfect harmony with the theme of the book. This brilliant book offers children an accessible way to explore complex and perhaps some unfamiliar concepts in a fun and memorable way. An ABC of Families is stunningly beautiful, moving, and a must-read for every family!
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books in paperback, 15 February 2022
Family and Me! by Michaela Dias-Hayes
This bright and accessible picture book reminds children how their wonderful features, traits and heritage can be lovingly passed down from biological family members.
When a little mixed-race girl studies her family tree, she begins to notice all the beautiful physical features she has inherited from her Black and south Asian relatives. Not only that, she realises how their love and nurture bring our shared interests, passions and personality traits. From Nanny’s nose for a good recipe, to Grandpa’s melanin skin, a sense of belonging and pride rings through in the most pure and joyful way. Being mixed-race myself, with mixed-race children, I loved sharing Family and Me! with my own family. This is an uplifting, delightful read!
Published by Owlet Press, 26 July 2022
Everything Changes by Clare Helen and Åsa Gilland
This sensitively-told story that explores the tricky emotions and questions that arise when parents divorce through the metaphor of the changing seasons. Laughing together as a family on the beach, it seems the happy summer will never end. Then, everything changes. Mummy and Daddy say they can’t live together anymore, and sad, worried feelings begin to emerge. But, as time passes and the seasons change, it becomes clearer that hard times won’t always be quite so hard…
This beautifully illustrated, lyrical picture book is a gentle way to open up conversations with children experiencing their parents separating. One small note for families: while both parents are featured fairly equally, it does suggest a separation situation where the father is leaving the family home, rather than both parents finding new properties. That said, no book can cover all scenarios and overall it leaves readers with a reassuring and optimistic message of hope and resilience.
Published by Little Tiger Press, 4 August 2022
Loveby Corrinne Averiss and Kirsti Beautyman
Next, I’ve selected Love which explores a child experiencing with separation anxiety. This exquisitely illustrated, uplifting picture book showcases the unbreakable bond between a mother and their child.
Tess’s family home is full of love, but when she has to leave for her first day of school, she worries she has to leave the love behind. Her mum explains to her that love is like a string, that wraps you up as warm as a scarf, and connects people together even when they are far away. Kirsti’s illustrations are divine. This moving story is a reminder to us all that a mother’s love is unbreakable, ever-present and never-ending.
Love was published by Quarto, 19 January 2021
A New Friend by Lucy Menzies and Maddy Vian
This innovative picture book explores the emotions around a family relocation, making friends and welcoming new families into your community. It comprises two versions of the same story told from different perspectives.
One book follows Joe on his first day at school, and the other shows Mae on her quest to make friends with the new arrival. The stories can also be read side-by-side, as spreads from each book complement each other and are linked with corresponding page numbers. The final spread at the back of the book reveals an uplifting shared ending. This ingenious picture book(s) would be brilliant for children who are experiencing a family relocation and change of school, as well as “non-relocating children” to remind them of the importance of offering a friendly hand.
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 7 June 2022
When You Joined Our Family by Harriet Evans and Nia Tudor
This beautifully illustrated picture book gently explores the adoption experience, from first meetings to creating new family traditions.
“When you joined our family, I knew you were just who I’d waited and wished for.” Harriet’s comforting words bring a sense of love and warmth, mirrored by Nia’s gorgeous illustrations. Reading this with my children was a great chance to show them how families can come together in many different ways, and what binds them all is love. When You Joined Our Family is a unique and important picture book.
Published by Caterpillar Books, 4 August 2022
The Littlest Yak: The New Arrival by Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley
Gertie the yak is back! My daughters and I adored The Littlest Yak (read review), and eagerly awaited the sequel. But I never expected to discover such a beautiful and powerful message about family love, exploring the mixture of emotions when a new sibling arrives.
When Gerties finds out she is going to be a big sister she wants the new baby to feel right at home and plans to share all her favourite things. But when Gertie realises she might also have to share Mummy, she starts to have a bit of a wobble… This adorable and touching new adventure for the littlest yak reassures with warmth and humour as Gertie learns that a heart can grow to fit even more love inside! And just like Gertie, my daughters and I discovered we can love Lu and Kate’s gorgeous series a whole heartful more too!
Published by Simon & Schuster, 29 September 2022
How to Say Hello by Sophie Beer
Welcoming a new member of the family can come in many forms. It can be helpful when thinking about different families that they may have different ways to communicate their love and feelings.
From a high five to a fist bump, from a wave to a kiss, there are so many wonderful ways to say hello. From sharing a smile to giving a hug, Sophie Beer explores physical and verbal forms of communication and how we can say hello in ways which don’t necessarily include physical contact. This bright and quirky board book teaches little learners the importance of communication, and how there’re so many different ways to make everyone feel welcome and included. This would be a lovely gift for a toddler.
Published by Caterpillar Books, 3 March 2022
My Family and Other Families by Lewis Edwards-Middleton, Richard Edwards-Middleton and Andy Passchier
This lovely picture book reminds children that it’s wonderfully normal for every family to be different and the things that set us apart can bring us closer.
Families of all different structures, cultures, and sizes are sensitively represented through the gentle story of a boy called Liam who is visiting the fun fair. He sees his friends are playing games, munching popcorn, and going on rides with their families. But when Liam’s Ferris wheel ticket goes missing, it’s a race against time for him and his friends to find it. Will they make it? My Family and Other Families is a great resource to help schools, libraries, and families celebrate all the different types of families.
Published by DK Children, 1 September 2022
How to Spot a Mum by Donna Amey Bhatt and Aura Lewis
Finally, I want to showcase a non-fiction book that blew me away in 2021. How to Spot a Mum is a true celebration of mothers and I personally feel every mother should own a copy to share with their family. At the start of the book, there is a lovely poem about what a mum is. Importantly, it says that while everyone has a biological mum, some people also have adopted mums, foster mums or step mums.
This book is truly inclusive, featuring mums with disabilities and mums from many different parts of the world. Between these heart-felt pages, Donna has masterfully woven snippets of comic genius. I loved the “anatomy of the mum”. It is SO true that a mum’s nose is excellent for sniffing out mischief! This warm, witty, and spookily accurate(!) book identifies all the different types of mums out there, from the sporty mum to the online mum; the organised mum to the last-minute mum. You can read my full review and interview with the author here.
How to Spot a Mum is published by Quarto, 2 February 2021
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with complimentary copies of these books. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.
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