Kids pick up absolutely everything around them, both good and bad. While my wife and I try and limit our kids’ exposure to entertainment that might be negative (no more SVU marathon weekends!), we also go out of our way to find material that is not only kid-friendly but also includes family structures similar to ours and teaches lessons of diversity and inclusion.
Thankfully, there have been many amazing kids books published that reflect the spectrum of families in our community, and they have even broader application for any families who may have been created through medical intervention or adoption. The books below are favorites in my house; hopefully, you can find some new reads here that resonate with your own family.
The Great Big Book of Families, by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith: I love this book for so many reasons. Not only does it touch on different family structures, but it also mentions difficult concepts in a kid-appropriate way. For example, in discussing that some parents stay home and some go to work, they also mention that sometimes a parent can’t find work. In discussing homes and apartments, they also state that not everyone has somewhere to live. The illustrations are very lively and engaging and include family members of all different ages, races, religions, and abilities.
The Family Book, Todd Parr: In typical Todd Parr style, different family structures are shown, but it focuses on how even different types of families have things in common with each other. Todd Parr has also written The Mommy Book and The Daddy Book that are similar in showing parents who do all sorts of things that reinforce that there are different ways to be good moms and dads.
Mommy Mama and Me, by Leslea Newman: There is a complementary two-dad version called Daddy Papa and Me by the same writer of Heather Has Two Mommies. This is for the very youngest readers and tells a rhyming story of Mommy and Mama taking care of baby and doing her daily routine together. My kids asked for this book over and over again; even now I still have it memorized.
Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson: A true story about a pair of male penguins who live in Central Park Zoo and raise an abandoned egg together. This is great for little animal lovers and is an unobtrusive way for anyone looking to introduce very basic concepts of family diversity into their lives.
Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall: This one really hits me and can mean lots of different things to different people. It is about a crayon with a red wrapper on it, but it is very clearly a blue crayon and fails at all tasks being Red. When it is encouraged to be Blue, it realizes it was Blue all along, regardless of the wrapper. It is really a story about being true to yourself and not letting anyone else tell you the voice inside you is wrong. Who doesn’t need that reminder from time to time?
The Different Dragon, by Jennifer Bryan: This is a twist on the classic dragon-slaying stories, and the fact that the little boy in the story has two moms is a side part of the main storyline, which is how having a two-mom or two-dad family feels most of the time.
What Makes a Baby, by Cory Silverberg: This is a brightly colored, simple way to break down how babies are made, perfect for those growing their family. But, spoiler alert, it uses real-life baby-making words such as “sperm,” “egg,” and “uterus” (no sex talk), so proceed with caution if that isn’t your thing. When my older daughter’s preschool did a unit on hatching chicken eggs, she had no problem very clearly correcting the visiting farmer who said people did not come from eggs. By the end of the visit, everyone in the room knew exactly what material was needed to make a human baby.
Zak’s Safari, by Christy Tyner: This is the family creation story of a little boy with two moms who used donor sperm, told from the child’s perspective. This was a great way to start introducing the donor concept to my kids, who were both conceived in the same way. We started reading this book when my oldest was about 4 years old, and it pairs well with What Makes a Baby if you are looking to start having those conversations.
Wish, by Matthew Cordell: Looking to cry your face off? Then this is the book for you. It tells the story of parent elephants (they each have a red and green scarf but are otherwise gender neutral) as they wish for a baby, and over time that wish gets further away and harder to make, but eventually, their wish to be parents comes true. This could apply to infertility, adoption, or just good, old-fashioned having babies, but the story is beautiful, and if you had to take a non-traditional or longer path to parenthood, I promise this book will get you in the feels.
About the Author
Lindsay Cofield-Solie is a full-time working mom of two little girls, originally from South Carolina but proud to call Florida home for the second half of her life. She lives in Orange Park with her family and is a co-organizer of Jacksonville LGBT Families, found on Facebook. When she is not fighting through potty training or attempting to be half as smart as at least one of her children, she and her wife can be found at the beach or visiting Disney.