Most children will assume that the combination of parents, grandparents, and siblings in their household is the default for everyone—until they have examples to understand families come in many sizes and types.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Children’s Books About Family History
- Best Children’s Books About Extended Family
- Best Children’s Books About Diverse Families
- Best Children’s Books About Family Traditions
Reading about different types of families in storybooks is an excellent way to introduce your child to these ideas. Great children’s books entertain while also expanding your child’s horizons.
The stories help them see that having different kinds of families in the world is enriching for us all. Be prepared for a discussion after the first time you read these books, since your child may want to know more.
Best Children’s Books About Family History
Understanding that families have histories can be abstract for a child. Consider using one of these stories if you want to start a conversation with your child about family history.
1. How Far Do You Love Me by Lulu Delacre
How Far Do You Love Me offers a charming “game” that allows a child to realize that the depth and background of their family’s love forms a close bond that holds them all together.
2. This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson
This beautiful story of an African-American family leaving behind the South and moving for better opportunities elsewhere offers a lesson in how objects are often more than they seem.
After reading This Is the Rope, consider asking your child about objects in your house that have significance to her parents or grandparents.
3. Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas, Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne
Sometimes It's Grandmas and Grandpas explores the life of a child being raised by her grandparents rather than her parents. This story is a reality for millions of children in the United States alone.
It focuses on the positives and sweetness of this relationship and how it's a normal and positive arrangement. It might be a particularly good book to add to a classroom library if one or more kids in the class are being raised by grandparents.
4. Love is a Family by Roma Downey
Love is a Family shows a relatable path. A child notices something different in her family (single mom, no siblings).
She wonders if it will be considered unusual to be a small family at her school’s Family Fun Night. What results is a heartwarming story about how love, not a particular family formula, is what matters to a happy home.
Best Children’s Books About Extended Family
Especially for children who don’t spend much time with aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents, it can be fun to learn about how many combinations of families under a single roof can exist.
These books can also be a great introduction when a young child is about to go to a family reunion. They will be more eager to get to know members of their family they haven’t spent much time with before.
5. One Family by George Shannon
Discussing the term “one” in detail, One Family showcases how a family can be a lot of different things and still be unified.
Children, who often want concrete definitions of what is correct, may find it beneficial to see that there are lots of ways to incorporate and name one’s family.
6. Shades of People by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly
Learning that you can have members in your family who are from different backgrounds, of different ages, and different skin tones can be a powerful message.
Shades of People is full of real photographs and can help children see themselves as part of a wide, diverse, extended family.
7. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
This sweet tale of adoption shows that there are people in the story of adoption beyond just the child and the adoptive parents.
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born shows that the ‘extended’ part of one’s family could include birth parents and other family members.
8. Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar by Keith Richards
Gus & Me is a charming story of a boy and his grandfather. It showcases how intergenerational closeness can be one of the most valuable parts of an extended family.
Best Children’s Books About Diverse Families
Each child has a unique story about how they came into the world. Children eventually question how aspects of their culture, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and other factors impact how their family is viewed.
Having affirming, positive books about family diversity can help children to make sense of their world. A diverse world has so many configurations around the core of loving and caring for one another.
9. Who’s In My Family? All About Our Family by Robie Harris
A day of discussion on all the different forms that families can take has an uplifting and positive end, helping children start the conversation if they feel like their kind of family is not represented in their classroom or school.
Who's In My Family? offers reminders that unique family situations are great and offer benefits that can help a child thrive.
10. Dear Child by John Farrell
Dear Child focuses on how much a child can change the life of a parent. It can be a lovely story for helping a child understand just how deeply loved they really are.
Seeing that they are a major part of their parents’ lives can be helpful if a child ever feels like some factor is isolating them from their parent.
11. My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete
My Brother Charlie is a book about sibling relationships and understanding and celebrating differences, including neurological differences such as autism. It attempts to show children how everyone’s brain works a little differently--and one isn’t better than the others.
Children who meet other children who are on the autism spectrum may learn some new empathetic tools from books like this one.
12. A Rainbow All Around Me by Sandra L. Pinkney
This beautifully photographed book will draw children in and engage them with the positive ideas of valuing diversity and difference.
A Rainbow All Around Me can be a great start to a conversation about race or ethnicity if your child is meeting people from different backgrounds or who look different from the people they are used to.
Best Children’s Books About Family Traditions
Creating family traditions or understanding a new friend’s family traditions can be made easier if your child has read a few books about different family traditions around the world.
Understanding the norms and rules of your home and recognizing that they don’t necessarily apply in every family is an important part of growing up.
13. All Families Are Special by Norma Simon
All Families Are Special is a beautiful story about children realizing that there are many wonderful structures for families. It focuses on a teacher sharing her family story and encouraging children to share theirs as well.
14. A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
A Chair for My Mother is a beautiful story about a family with a grandmother, mother, and daughter going through a tough time after a devastating fire is a great example of how the little things can bring a big impact on a family.
15. The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman
Structured to teach kids a fun and easy vocabulary for all the ways that families can be structured, alongside pretty illustrations that will engage young ones, The Great Big Book of Families includes a variety of family structures that will help children see how new family figures, like stepparents or new siblings, can fit into their families too.
16. Do You Sing Twinkle? by Sandra Levins
Specifically focused on family traditions in blended families, Do You Sing Twinkle? shows a child combining the things they’ve grown to expect from their parents with the traditions of their new stepparent and step-siblings. Normalizing these transitions can help children make sense of change.
The Wide World of Family Diversity in Books
Children are constantly soaking up information. Early on in life is a great time to introduce them to a lot of diversity in small doses. Show them that the world has so much variety in it, that diversity is the norm of our world.
As children grow, they are more able to process their family trees and understand their connections beyond their immediate family. Having this baseline understanding can be helpful in hard circumstances, such as processing and remembering a family member who died.
In some contexts, combining books about family with books about death can ease a child’s experience of grief for the first time. Such books can also prepare them to go through a grief or loss event. While nothing can make the experience of grief or loss easy, books about others working through the hard questions of life can give your child some light for the journey.