With Mother’s Day around the corner, and Father’s Day not too far off, we in BookKids turned our thoughts to parents, or parental figures, in children’s literature. As we thought about parents and caregivers we at first only succeeded in naming a bunch of books where there are no parents or the parental figures are completely absent. This is a common trope in kids books. But that wouldn’t work since we want to celebrate parents not ignore them. So . . . we shifted focus, and came up with books that feature parental figures we like and are present in the story. We also didn’t limit our discussion to moms and dads, but expanded it to grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, teachers, and anyone who acts as a parent or caregiver. Here are a few of our favorites.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
This is one I remember loving in my childhood. It’s the story of Rosa, her mother, and grandmother, and trying to make ends meet after losing all their material things in a house fire. Rosa’s mother works long hours at the diner, so the family decides she needs a comfy armchair to unwind in at the end of each day. Its vibrant, bright illustrations and sweet message makes this one a winner for Mother’s Day, or any day for that matter. – Helen
Abuela by Arthur Dorros
In this beautifully illustrated picture book, Rosalba and her grandmother go on a magical journey flying over New York City. Rosalba loves that her abuela is always ready for an adventure and that she takes Rosalba with her. – Kathleen
When I Was Small by Sara O’Leary
Adults often forget what it is like to be small. When curious little Henry asks his mother what it was like when she was small, she details all the BIG fun that can be had when you are very, very small! This is such a sweet book, illustrated with obvious love – an absolute must read for children and parents, both big and well, you know. – Jan
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Dad in Knuffle Bunny is a hero. On a trip to the laundromat, little Trixie’s beloved stuffed rabbit gets misplaced. Dad’s panic grows as Knuffle Bunny’s whereabouts remain a mystery and Trixie’s anxiety reaches fever pitch. I love that this situation is so true to life and both Dad and Trixie’s reactions and expressions are spot on. Happily, Knuffle Bunny is found and Dad is now a very relieved Super Dad. No matter how old a child gets, dads never stop rescuing their kids and doing their darndest to make everything alright. -Ellen
The Berenstain Bears series by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Whether your child is a nail biter or is having trouble at school, the Bear family has experienced it too! The Berenstain bear books are full of realistic dialogue and practical problem solving. Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Gramps & Gran are steady and sometimes humorous hands that guide the kids through life. They move, get new neighbors, adapt to Mama getting a new job, as well as many other countless adventures for the cubs. Your child will become one of the family. -Cindy K.
One of my favorite parental figures in children’s literature is Halt in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. The main character, Will, is an orphan who is apprenticed to Halt to become a ranger, the secret intelligence group of the kingdom of Aralven. Halt not only teaches Will all of the skills necessary to become a great ranger, he helps Will grow into a young man and Halt becomes like a father to him. Halt is even willing to put himself in great danger to protect Will. – John G.
To browse more books for Mother’s Day, visit our display on the first floor. After Mother’s Day, come on in to take a look at our Father’s Day selections.