Building your child’s library with a diverse range of books is a great way to expose a young reader to different cultures and families in a world where every family looks different. Some kids are raised by an adoptive mother or grandparents. Some children have two fathers. Here is a collection of 10 transformative children’s books that embrace the different roles that dads and father figures can play in a kid’s life. Order some for Father’s Day, or buy a copy for your partner to read along with your kiddo.
1. Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown ($17): There’s a Mother’s Day celebration at Stella’s school, but she doesn’t have a mom to bring. Since her two dads — Papa and Daddy — raise her, she considers bringing both of them to her school for the party. Geared toward readers in kindergarten to second grade, this hardcover kid’s book explores the realities of same-gender parents and how to discuss family with young children.
2. The Family Book by Todd Parr ($18): This best-selling book explores all types of families — from adopted families to single-parent households — with brightly colored illustrations. Sample pages include, “Some families are different colors,” and “Some families are big,” offering kids a chance to see their own families represented and presenting a helpful way for parents and teachers to talk about the many different ways a family can come together.
3. Ask Me by Bernard Waber and Suzy Lee ($17): The sumptuous colors of autumn leaves on the cover alone are enough to draw young readers. This gorgeously illustrated book captures a father and daughter taking a stroll through their neighborhood, asking each other questions and learning more about each other. Geared toward preschool kids through second graders, this lovely story is ideal for single fathers or fatherly caregivers to share with their child.
4. Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima ($18): Young Harriet loves costumes, and for her upcoming special birthday party, she wants to find the ultimate party hats. But Harriet gets carried away when she ends up finding real penguins. Her two dads are eagerly awaiting her return, so Harriet and her new friends have to find their way back to her party. For kids ages four through eight, this fun picture book captures the enduring love a family can have, even when one family member gets a little lost.
5. The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by Samantha M. Clark ($18): This debut book coming out June 26 is about a young boy who washes ashore with no memory of how he got there. As he searches for the truth, he learns that his dad who’s trying to be good is actually not. For readers in third through seventh grade, this novel promises a jaw-dropping conclusion that readers won’t expect.
6. As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds ($17): A Coretta Scott King Honor Book, this multi-award-winning middle grade novel follows the lives of Brooklyn-born Genie and his older brother Ernie as they spend a summer in Virginia with their grandparents. To Genie’s surprise, he finds out Grandpop is blind and never leaves the house. When Grandpop wants his grandsons to learn how to shoot, Genie learns the depths of what it means to be a man. Beautifully written, this book is a great read for children who have a special relationship with their grandfathers.
7. The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly ($17): For children in third to seventh grade, Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly pens a tale of two sisters who forge an incredible bond to face the most impossible circumstances. Sol and her younger sister Ming are brought to Louisiana from the Philippines by their father after their mother and sister die. When their father leaves them, never to return, the sisters are left with an abusive stepmother. The power of sisterhood is explored in this emotional novel and spotlights hope for children dealing with difficult home lives.
8. Between the World and the Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates ($25): From acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates comes a deeply moving and important book. Writing in the form of letters to his adolescent son, Coates explores weighty topics of being a black man in America and how his experiences have led him to be the person he is today. Writer Toni Morrison hails this book as “required reading,” and it would be a worthy book for any teen to discuss with their parents about race in the United States.
9. All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan ($19): For readers ages 12 and up, this book debuting June 12 is about Ronney, a kid from a mixed-race family, who has a suicidal dad, a drug-addicted mom, and a genius kid sister. His small town in Indiana is embroiled in controversy after a local man lets out all the exotic animals in the zoo, then shoots himself. With absent parents, Ronney is left in charge of a sister who’s scared of being attacked by roaming lions. A fascinating read for any children who have family members dealing with mental illness or are hoping to understand friends who do.
10. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne ($11): Kate Quinn’s dad is running for president of the United States. Though she loves her father, she still struggles with the death of her mother a year earlier. Under intense scrutiny, Kate becomes the center of controversy when her dad’s views on immigration clash with the safety of her best friend, who comes under fire for possible deportation. A loving look at what it means to be the daughter of someone in the public eye and how grief can change a young girl’s life.
What are your fave realistically diverse books to read with your kids? Tweet us @BritandCo!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.