Families Annotated Bibliography


Dr. Ava L. McCall



Challenges of Family Life

Everyday Life


Family History

Intergenerational Relationships

Interracial Families

Kinds of Families

Sex Roles


Audiovisual Resources



Challenges of Family Life


Altman, L. J. (2002). Singing with Mamma Lou. New York: Lee & Low Books.


Elementary. The picture book illustrates a family’s struggle to deal with their mother’s and grandmother’s loss of memory due to Alzheimer’s disease. Tamika, Mamma Lou’s granddaughter, learns about her grandmother’s activities in the civil rights movement, her singing experiences with bands and choirs, and their times together when Tamika was a baby. Tamika uses photographs and other mementos to tell her grandmother stories about her earlier life to help her grandmother remember.


Beaty, D. (2013). Knock knock: My dad’s dream home for me. New York: Little, Brown and Company.


Elementary. The picture book raises the issue of a father’s disappearance and the effects on his son. It is based on the author’s experience of his father’s incarceration when the author was only three years old. The text illustrates the son’s yearning for his father and what he could teach him. However, the text also offers the father’s advice and encouragement for the son to become the best even if the father is not there.


Boelts, M. (2012). Happy like soccer. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.


Elementary. The picture book illustrates a young girl’s desire to have someone in her family to cheer for her when she plays soccer. Unfortunately, her auntie, whom she lives with, must work on Saturdays when the soccer games are scheduled. Sierra talks with her coach to request that the last soccer game be moved to an empty lot in her neighborhood and be played on a Monday, her auntie’s day off. The text depicts the challenges families face when they must juggle work and caring for children.


Bunting, E. (1996). Going home. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.


Lower elementary. The picture book depicts a Mexican family who moves to the U.S. to work as farm workers in order to provide better opportunities for their three children. However, they consider Mexico their home. The story portrays their visit to La Perla, Mexico, a small village, at Christmas. The family is welcomed “home” by the children’s grandfather, aunt, and the rest of the village. The visit helps the children understand how much their parents love Mexico, how difficult it is to be away from home despite their desire to provide opportunities for their children, and their plan to return to Mexico to live.


Chaconas, D. (2007). Pennies in a jar. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers.


Elementary. The picture book describes a young boy’s desire to save pennies to purchase a birthday gift for his father who is away fighting in World War II. Because of fuel shortages, large, scary horses pull the rag wagon, the milk wagon, the garbage wagon down the street in front of the boy’s house. The young boy is afraid of the horses, but he overcomes his fear to provide a birthday gift for his father. The text provides some insights on the time period of World War II and children’s lives during this period. The author’s note elaborates on the sacrifices people made on the home front during World War II and the effects of the war on children.


Christiansen, C.B. (1989). My mother's house, my father's house. New York: Puffin Books.


Lower elementary. The author describes the parents' shared custody of a young girl who lives with her mother during the week and her father on weekends.


Elya, S. M. (2002). Home at last. New York: Lee & Low Books.


Elementary. The text portrays the challenges for a new immigrant family in adjusting to their life in the United States after leaving their home in Mexico. Although the main character Ana seems to learn English and become part of her class at school, her mother struggles with missing her family and home in Mexico and communicating with store clerks and neighbors in her new country. With the help and support of her family, Ana’s mother improves her English.


Lainez, P. R. C. (2004). Waiting for papa: Esperando a papa. Houston, TX: Pinata.


Elementary. The story is based on the author’s immigrant experiences. It reveals the difficulties for a family that is divided when the son, Beto, and his mother receive visas from the Immigration Department to allow them to emigrate from El Salvador and come to the U.S. while their father’s application for a visa is denied. Because of the war in El Salvador, Beto’s father cannot find a job and faces dangers when going out in public. Through the efforts of Beto, his mother, and an immigration lawyer, they are able to bring Beto’s father to the U.S. and rejoin the family.


Mead, A. (1998). Junebug and the Reverend. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.


Upper elementary/middle school. The main character, an African American boy nicknamed Junebug, moves with his younger sister and mother to a group home for the elderly when his mother begins her new job as supervisor of the home. Junebug faces many challenging experiences following the move, including walking with Reverend Ashford every day, dealing with bullies who pick on a friendless White boy, and feeling angry that his mother has less time for him. Readers learn Junebug’s father is in prison and has no contact with the family, which precipitates Junebug’s desire for a father.


Peete, H. R. & Peete, R. E. (2010). My brother Charlie. New York: Scholastic.


Lower elementary. The text is an informational book and told from the perspective of Callie, a young African American girl. She describes some of the joys and challenges of living and playing with her twin brother Charlie who has autism. Both Callie and Charlie share many similarities and Charlie has many strengths, but Charlie struggles to make friends, show his feelings, and stay safe. Callie seems to encourage readers to understand that children with autism have other interests and talents and are not defined by their autism.


Quinlan, P. (1987). My dad takes care of me. Toronto: Annick Press.


Lower elementary. This book describes how a young boy feels awkward telling his friends that his dad is unemployed. He discovers he likes having his dad at home to take care of him. He learns that it is okay that his dad does not have a job in the traditional sense. He finds out that other dads have the job of taking care of their children. This book covers areas of unemployment in the family, fears of not fitting-in, and adjusting to new family situations.


Recorvits, H. (2003). My name is Yoon. New York: Frances Foster Books.


Lower elementary. Yoon and her family immigrate to the U.S. from Korea and Yoon’s father teaches her to write her name in English to prepare her for school. However, Yoon does not like the way her name looks in English and prefers the Korean spelling. Yoon longs to return to Korea, but her parents do not consider it. The text illustrates the challenges for a young child in adjusting to American schools, even when family members help them learn English.


Seward, A. (2001). Goodnight, Daddy. Buena Park, CA: Morning Glory.


Lower elementary. The text describes the excitement and anxieties Phoebe has about her father’s upcoming visit, especially since she has not seen her father in two years. Although her father disappoints her again in being unable to visit, she remembers her mother’s, grandparents’, aunts’, uncles’, teachers’ love for her. The author’s note offers advice to single parents in dealing with infrequent visits by the absent parent.


Uhlberg, M. (2011). A storm called Katrina. Atlanta: Peachtree.


Elementary. The text illustrates how one African American family dealt with a natural disaster, hurricane Katrina when it hit New Orleans in August, 2005. When the levees broke and flooded the city, Louis and his family floated on a porch until they could walk to the Superdome for shelter. Although the family is fictional, it is based on people’s experiences dealing with hurricane Katrina. The author includes background information and additional resources on the hurricane.


Villa, A. F. (2013). Flood. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Young Readers.


Lower elementary. The wordless picture book illustrates one rural family’s experiences of a flood, which damages their home. The illustrations show the family’s preparation for a large storm and possible flood, leaving their home during the storm, the damage to the home during the flood, and the work to repair the home following the flood. The illustrations emphasize the preparation for the storm and flood and imply the damage to the home is quickly repaired, which should be discussed. The illustrations can promote discussions about how families should handle natural disasters such as floods.


Weir, L. (2012). When dad was away. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.


Elementary. The author raises the challenge children face when a parent is serving a prison sentence. At first Milly was angry and confused about her dad’s imprisonment, then wondered if she had caused him to be sent away. However, Milly’s mother assured her that her father was in prison because he stole something, but was still a good person. Milly’s teacher appeared to prevent the other students in the class from teasing Milly about her father’s imprisonment by reminding them to look after each other. The author portrays how families can cope with a parent’s imprisonment through visits, a Christmas party at the prison, and the exchange of materials, such as the children’s drawings for the father and the father’s recorded stories for the children.


Williams, V. B. (1982). A chair for my mother. New York: Mulberry Books.


Lower elementary. Rosa, her mother, and grandmother live together in an apartment which was damaged by fire. The neighbors show community spirit by helping to refurnish the apartment, and Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save coins to buy a new armchair.


Williams, V. B. (1983). Something special for me. New York: Mulberry Books.


Lower elementary. A continuation of A chair for my mother. Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save enough coins to enable Rosa to buy herself a birthday gift. The book emphasizes the joy the family experiences despite having a limited income from the mother’s work as a waitress.


Woodson, J. (2002). Visiting day. New York: Scholastic.


Lower elementary. The text portrays the excitement a young African American girl has for traveling by bus with her grandmother to visit her father in prison each month. The father also looks forward to these visits with great anticipation. Despite the father’s incarceration, the text depicts a loving, close family who looks forward to the time when the father returns home.


Yang, B. (2004). Hannah is my name. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.


Elementary. The text describes the anxiety and hardships a young Chinese girl and her family endure while waiting for their green cards to make them legal permanent residents of the U.S. after emigrating from Taiwan. Hannah’s parents struggle to find jobs without green cards, so they have little money for basic necessities as well as books. Hannah adjusts to and enjoys school, but is worried about her family’s security without green cards. The text is based on the author’s experiences of immigrating to the U.S. with her family in 1967.



Everyday Life


Barrett, J. D. (1989). Willie’s not the hugging kind. New York: HarperCollins.


Lower elementary. Willie’s best friend Jo-Jo thinks hugging is silly, so Willie stops hugging everybody. He soon misses giving and getting hugs from his family. This book includes illustrations of families from ethnic backgrounds (African–American and Asian- American). This book can be used to discuss peer-pressure, self-confidence, friendship, and importance of human contact.


Caines, J. (1982). Just us women. New York: Harper & Row.


Lower elementary. This book describes a special trip an African-American aunt and niece plan to take when they decide no men can go along and keep them from doing things they want.



Emberly, R. (1990). My house: A book in two languages. New York: Little, Brown and Company.


Lower elementary. The very simple text is written in both English and Spanish and describes the people, pets, rooms, and toys found inside the house as well as the things that would be found outside the house, such as the yard, garden, and treehouse. The book closes by introducing different types of houses people might live in, such as igloos, tepees or apartment buildings.


Garza, C. L. (1996). In my family. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.


Elementary. The author describes and illustrates with beautiful paintings some of her memories of growing up in Kingsville, Texas in a Mexican American family. Her Mexican American heritage and beliefs are portrayed through special rituals and religious activities; experiences with preparing food and dancing; and family celebrations of Easter, birthdays, and weddings.


Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. (2010). The fair housing five & the haunted house. New Orleans: Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.


Upper elementary. Samaria and her mother are African Americans and want to move into a new apartment and find one close to the mother’s work and Samaria’s school. However, Samaria and her friends believe the house with the new apartment is haunted. When Samaria and her mother meet the landlord, he refuses to rent the apartment to families with children. Samaria and her friends are confused by this decision, investigate, and discover that the landlord will also not rent the apartment to other African Americans and people with guide dogs. When they study the civil rights movement in school, they learn how housing discrimination is another form of discrimination the civil rights movement fought against. Samaria’s teacher encourages her to report the landlord to the Fair Housing Center, who proves that the landlord was discriminating against them and ensures the landlord will treat people fairly. The text also includes a glossary of important terms and thought questions.


Greenfield, E. (1991). First pink light. New York: Writers & Readers Publishing, Inc.


Lower elementary. Tyree is determined to stay up all night until the first pink light to surprise his dad when he returns home from taking care of his grandmother. This book can be used in discussions of family relationships.


Gustafson, A. (2003). Imagine a house: A journey to fascinating houses around the world. Minneapolis: Out of the Box.


Upper elementary. Although the picture book does not explicitly deal with families, the focus on houses provides an introduction to a family’s basic need of shelter. The wide variety of houses portrayed in the text, such as adobe houses in southwestern U.S. and Northern Africa and round houses in South America and Africa, can stimulate discussion on the purposes of houses and reasons for their differences. The end of the text also offers excellent discussion questions and activities to extend students’ thinking about houses.


Kerley, B. (2005). You and me together: Moms, dads, and kids around the world. Washington, DC: National Geographic.


Lower elementary. The author uses photographs of families from around the world, including the U.S., Iceland, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand, Butan, Japan, India, Uganda, Canada, Tanzania, Italy, Indonesia, Brazil, Guatemala, and Germany to emphasize commonalities among families. Families share jokes, rides, shade, music, walks, pets, tools, stories, and food. They fish together, travel, play, celebrate holidays, and dance. The end of the text includes a note explaining each family photograph. Marian Wright Edelman calls for the ending of child poverty and neglect throughout the world in the end note.


Kerley, B. (2009). One world, one day. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society


Elementary. The author shows commonalities in children’s lives from all over the world as they get up, have breakfast, travel to school, and engage in reading, writing, music, math, science, arts and crafts, and enjoy recess and lunch at school. At the end of the school day, children return home to complete chores, play, do homework, eat dinner, and gather with their families in the evening. Finally, they get ready for bed and consider the possibilities of another day. Photographs are of children from all over the world, including Brazil, Bolivia, the U.S., Spain, Italy, Russia, Israel, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Nepal, China, North Korea, Kenya, Madagascar, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Australia.


Kuklin, S. (1992). How my family lives in America. New York: Bradbury.


Upper elementary. This book is written from the point of view of Sanu, Eric, and April, three children who live in the USA but also have cultural roots in Senegal, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan respectively. The children tell the reader a little about the food, music, and customs of Senegal, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan and how they influence life in the USA. The author includes some recipes for the children’s favorite ethnic foods.


Laroche, G. (2011). If you lived here: Houses of the world. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.


Elementary. Each type of home is illustrated in great detail with a main text describing what it would be like to live in that house, an important aspect of families. The subtext gives background information on why each type of house was built, materials used to build the house, where the houses are located in the world, when they were built, and other “fascinating facts” about the house. The author chose to focus primarily on unique and sometimes more expensive homes rather than common homes. Many of the houses are primarily those for with economic resources and include: dogtrot houses, chalets, pueblos, connected barns, cave dwellings, houses on stilts (palafitos), Venetian palaces, chateaus, earthen dwellings (fujian tulou), half-timbered townhouses, decorated houses of Ndebele, yurts, trailers, floating houses, and treehouses.


Lin, G. (2002). Kite flying. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Lower elementary. The picture book portrays an Asian American family cooperatively creating their own dragon kite and then flying it. The author/illustrator shows different kite patterns and their meanings. The author also provides very valuable background information on kite flying’s origins in China, the significance of kite shapes and noise makers, and the meaning of kite flying in the past and today.


Morris, A. (1992). Houses and homes. New York: HarperTrophy.


Lower elementary. Each page of the book illustrates different examples of homes–simple to extravagant--around the world. The end of the text tells where the houses are located and identifies their location on a world map. The sparse text emphasizes that houses are different, constructed out of building materials available in the local environment, and various processes are used to build houses. When houses are filled with love, they become homes.


Ommer, U. (2002). Families: Around the world, one kid at a time. New York: Universe.


Upper elementary. The picture book introduces readers to over 50 families from different countries around the world, such as Afghanistan, Australia, Egypt, Laos, Peru, Spain, Ukraine, and the U.S. Several portraits of families reveal family structures with more than one wife or extended families, in addition to traditional nuclear families. The page about each family is written from the perspective of a child introducing the child’s family and country to readers. Information about each country’s area, population, ethnic groups, religions, languages, currency, climate and geography, and important natural resources and agricultural products are also included.


Rosa-Mendoza, G. (2007). My family and I: Mi familia y yo. Wheaton, IL: me+mi publishing.


Lower elementary. The very simple text is written in both English and Spanish. The main character introduces the reader to members of her family. She includes her mom, dad, brother, sister, pets, pets, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The final page includes all families eating together. The text can introduce Spanish or English to young learners as well as show an example of an extended family.


Russo, M. (1998). When Mama gets home. New York: Willow Books.


Lower elementary. Three children have chores to prepare for dinner while their mother works. As they eat together, each child vies for their mother’s attention. Despite the hectic pace of this single-parent family, the mother takes time for each child.


Thomas, M. (1987). Free to be…a family. New York: Bantam.


Lower/upper elementary. A collection of stories, poems, songs, and essays, which deal with various aspects of family life including blended families, conflicts, divorce, differently abled children, and peer pressure.


Watanabe, E. (2009). My Japan. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller.


Lower elementary. The narrator is Yumi from Japan explaining parts of her home and family activities in the Tokyo suburbs as well as cultural celebrations observed by Japanese families. Detailed illustrations enhance the text. Yumi describes the bedroom she shares with her brother, bathing at home as well as going to public baths, her mother’s cooking, going to school, and three different kinds of writing Japanese children are expected to learn. Special holidays are highlighted in the text, including the last day of the year, New Year’s day, Girls’ Day, Children’s Day or Boys’ Day, Tanabata (special wishes day), Sports Day, and Seven-Five-Three Day. For this holiday, everyone wishes health, happiness and longevity to three and seven-year-old girls and three and five-year-old boys.




Munsch, R. (1986). Love you forever. Ontario, Canada: Firefly Books.


Lower elementary. The author describes the love a mother has for her son throughout his stages of growing up including those times when it is difficult to love him. The grown son then has a daughter and loves her just as his mother loved him.



Family History


Berger, M. & Berger, G. (1993). Where did your family come from? A book about immigrants. Nashville, TN: Ideals.


Lower elementary. This book focuses on immigration. It begins by explaining that except for Native Americans, the USA is a nation of immigrants. The book offers reasons for people wanting to come to the USA, talks about what they bring to their new country, lists requirements for citizenship, and hints at obstacles to be overcome. The book also tells the stories of four children (Boris, Maria, Rosa, and Chang) and why their families came to the USA.


Bradby, M. (2000). Momma, where are you from? New York: Orchard Books.


Elementary. When an African American daughter asks, “where are you from?” her mother explains some of the daily activities of her life growing up. Washing clothes with a wringer washer, ironing with flat irons heated on the stove, getting fish and ice from peddlers, and having Friday night family fish fries. The mother also describes times of racial segregation and inequality when her brothers and sister traveled past closer schools to a school just for African Americans, when sidewalks stopped before her neighborhood, and neighborhood women cleaned other people’s homes.


Igus, T. (1992). When I was little. East Orange, NJ: Just Us Books.


Lower elementary. Grandpa Will tells his grandson Noel about his life when he was little and how things have changed. More houses and condominiums were built along the river where they like to fish, kids went swimming in the river to keep cool when they did not have air conditioning, and families kept food cool with ice in an ice box rather than a refrigerator were some of the changes Grandpa experienced during his lifetime. Grandpa Will also describes how clothes were washed on a washboard and hung up to dry, how he and his family communicated with others without a telephone, how they entertained themselves with a radio and phonograph rather than a television or CD player, and traveled in a horse and wagon rather than an automobile. The text is a good example of teaching the theme of time, continuity, and change within family history.


Morris, A. (2002). What was it like, Grandma? Grandma Francisca remembers: A Hispanic-American family story. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.


Elementary. The text illustrates how a grandmother transmits family history and culture to her granddaughter. Grandma Francisca teaches Angelica about her life growing up, her own family, special celebrations, and toys she had. Together, Grandmother and granddaughter cook traditional foods and celebrate religious traditions together so Angelica learns about and carries on her Hispanic heritage. The author offers suggestions for readers to learn more about their own family history.


Morris, A. (2002). What was it like, Grandma? Grandma Hekmatt remembers: An Arab-American family story. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.


Elementary. The book is another contribution to the series on grandmothers who teach their grandchildren about their family history and cultural heritage. Grandma Hekmatt is a Muslim who spent her childhood in Cairo, Egypt and moved to the U.S. when she married Hedaiet. They now live in Wayne, New Jersey and teach their three granddaughters the Arabic language. Grandma Hekmatt explains special artifacts from Egypt, shows her family photograph album, and guides her granddaughters in making foods and crafts, worshiping at a mosque, and participating in the holy month of Ramadan.


Morris, A. (2002). What was it like, Grandma? Grandma Lai Goon remembers: A Chinese-American family story. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.


Elementary. The text continues the series in which grandmothers from distinct cultures transmit their family history and culture to their grandchildren. By sharing her family photograph album, Grandma Lai Goon explains her experiences growing up in Guangzhou, China before moving to San Francisco. Now she teaches her grandchildren how to write Chinese words, prepare special foods, play games, and make toys from her Chinese heritage.


Morris, A. (2002). What was it like, Grandma? Grandma Lois remembers: An African-American family story. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.


Elementary. In this text, Grandma Lois tells family stories and shares her family album with family members living in Queens, New York. Grandma Lois describes her memories of growing up in racially segregated Birmingham, Alabama before moving to New York. As a way of keeping her African American culture and history alive, she teaches her grandson to play checkers, plays the piano and sings hymns with her family, and together, they make sweet potato pie.


Morris, A. (2002). What was it like, Grandma? Grandma Maxine remembers: A Native American family story. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.


Elementary. Grandma Maxine shares her experiences with her granddaughter about growing up as a member of the Shoshone on the Wind River Reservation in Washakie, Wyoming. She conveys the importance of different plants, teepees, powwows, and buffalo to the Shoshone people. Grandma Maxine teaches her granddaughter how to continue the traditions of powwow dancing, making fry bread, and creating “God’s Eye”designs, which bring good luck.


Nelson, R. (2003). Home: Then and now. Minneapolis: Lerner.


Lower Elementary. The simple picture book compares homes from the past to homes today. It illustrates the structures of homes, lighting, appliances (iceboxes and refrigerators; wood-burning stoves and electric or gas stoves), and how bathrooms and laundry facilities have changed. The text also includes a timeline of when different inventions were created which were used in homes and facts about building materials and other products used in homes.


Nelson, R. (2003). School: Then and now. Minneapolis: Lerner.


Lower Elementary. The simple picture book compares schools from the past to schools today. The illustrations show children walking many miles to school in the past and riding a bus to school today, attending a one-room school with children from many ages in the past and attending a large multi-room school today with children grouped in individual classrooms by the same age, and sharing desks and writing with chalk and slates in the past, and having individual desks and writing in notebooks with pencils today. The text also compares the school curriculum in the past as focusing on only reading, writing, and arithmetic whereas today it also includes science and social studies. The text includes a timeline of when school materials were invented and the first schools, libraries, and colleges were opened and a list of interesting facts about schools and teachers.


Nelson, R. (2003). Toys and games: Then and now. Minneapolis: Lerner.


Lower Elementary. The simple picture book compares toys and games from the past to today. Dolls changed from homemade to manufactured, wooden blocks changed to plastic, rocking horses changed to bicycles, recess games changed from marbles to complex playground equipment, simple toy trains changed to electric, playing with jacks changed to playing with video games, and having stuffed teddy bears as toys changed to having many different stuffed animals. The text also includes a timeline of when different toys were invented and interesting facts about different toys and games.


Perez, A. (2002). My diary from here to there. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.


Elementary. The text is autobiographical and describes the author’s childhood experiences when her family moves from Juarez, Mexico to Los Angeles, California. When the author’s father loses his job and can find no work in Mexico, he and the author’s mother decide they must move to the United States for work and better opportunities. Readers discover the challenges of leaving a country one loves, waiting for her father to find a job and obtain green cards for the family, and moving to a different country. However, the author is also committed to keeping her language and culture alive through her diary.


Polacco, P. (1988). The keeping quilt. New York: Simon & Schuster.


The book describes a quilt made by one person containing pieces of clothing from family members who immigrated to the U.S. from Russia. This quilt was passed from mother to daughter for four generations which accompanied the telling of family stories.


Schreck, K. H. (2001). Lucy’s family tree. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House.


Elementary. Lucy is an adopted child from Mexico faced with the challenge of completing a family tree assignment. She first wants to be excused from the assignment because her family is “different.” Then Lucy discovers that many other families are also considered “different” because they have a mother as breadwinner and father as care-giver, have two mothers, are Jewish, have a stepparent, lost a child to an accident, or adopted children. Lucy creates a “Tree of Life” sculpture depicting her birth parents, her adoptive parents, and her. The author encourages teachers to offer different types of family trees to accommodate diverse families and provides descriptions of such family tree assignments at the end of the text.


Sweeney, J. (1999). Me and my family tree. New York: Dragonfly Books.


Lower elementary. The author describes one child’s family, including parents, a brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents and how they might be arranged on a family tree. Simple explanations of how different family members are related are also described.


Woodson, J. (2005). Show way. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

(Upper elementary)


The author traces her family history from her great great great grandmother who was a slave, but learned to sew quilts which showed the way to freedom, to herself and her own daughter. The quilt-making tradition was passed along to the daughters and granddaughters who continued to sew quilts even after they were no longer slaves. The “Trail to the North” or “Show Way” quilts became a way to earn a living and remember their history. The text illustrates the love between mother and daughter and the importance of passing along family history.


Woodson, J. (2013). This is the rope: A story from the great migration. New York: The Penguin Group.


Elementary. The story is based on the author’s family’s experiences of moving from the South (South Carolina) to the North (New York City) as part of the great migration of African Americans from the southern part of the United States to northern cities in search of a better life during 1900-1970. The story is told of a rope first used by the main character’s grandmother to jump rope in South Carolina to the granddaughter’s use of the same rope to play in New York City. The rope was used during the journey from South Carolina to New York City and for different aspects of everyday life in New York City for the main character’s grandparents and parents until the author herself began playing jump rope with the same rope.


Intergenerational Relationships


Ada, A. F. (2002). I love Saturdays y domingos. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.


Lower elementary. The text is written in both English and Spanish to illustrate a young girl’s visits with her English-speaking grandparents on Saturday and her Spanish-speaking grandparents on Sundays. The text affirms bilingual and diverse family backgrounds and close relationships between grandchildren and grandparents.


Ajmera, M., Kinkade, S. & Pon, C. (2010). Our grandparents: A global album. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.


Lower elementary. The text is illustrated with photographs of grandparents and grandchildren from different parts of the world, although a larger number of photographs are included from people in the United States than other countries. Tibet, India, Mexico, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Greenland, Yemen, China, Germany, Mongolia, Canada, Pakistan, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, and the United Kingdom are included in the text. It illustrates the many things that grandparents and grandchildren can do together and how grandparents help their grandchildren. Grandparents love, listen to, teach, tell good stories, play and celebrate with, and take care of their grandchildren. The authors also suggest activities that children might do with their grandparents.


Bunting, E. (1989). The Wednesday surprise. New York: Clarion Books.


Upper elementary. On Wednesday nights when Grandma stays with Anna everyone thinks she is teaching Anna to read, but she is learning to read. This book can be used to show the importance of learning to read. It can also be used to discuss work within the family.


Caines, J. (1980). Window wishing. New York: Harper & Row.


Lower elementary. The author describes an African-American grandmother who does not like to cook, but likes to fish, make kites, window wish, and have picnics in the cemetery with her grandchildren, who enjoy spending their vacations with her.


Cooke, T. (2000). The grandad tree. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.


Lower elementary. The author describes the life cycle of a grandfather as told through one of his grandchildren. She compares the grandfather’s life to the seasonal changes in an apple tree. Even when Grandfather dies, his grandchildren still remember him and plant an apple seed in his honor.


de Paola, T. (1973). Nana upstairs & Nana downstairs. New York: Puffin Books.


Lower elementary. This book shows the love between a small boy and his grandmother and great-grandmother and his understanding and reaction to their deaths.


de Paola, T. (1981). Now one foot, now the other. New York: G.P. Putnam.


Lower elementary. The book focuses on the power that children can have in others’ lives. When a young boy’s grandfather has a stroke, the bot helps him learn to eat by himself, talk, and walk again.


Gilman, P. (1992). Something from nothing. New York: Scholastic.


Lower elementary. The story is an adaptation of a Jewish folktale, and portrays family love and closeness among three generations. Joseph’s grandfather is a tailor who can fix anything. When the blanket that Joseph’s grandfather makes for him becomes tattered, the grandfather transforms the blanket into a jacket, vest, Sabbath tie, handkerchief, and finally a button. When the button becomes lost, it’s Joseph’s turn to create.


Goldman, S. (1976). Grandma is somebody special. Chicago: Albert Whitman.


Lower elementary. This book focuses on the pleasant times a little girl has when she visits her grandmother. Her grandmother fixes her favorite foods, reads books, plays games, and sings to her.


Haskins, F. (1992). Things I like about grandma. San Francisco: Child’s Book Press.


Lower elementary. An African American girl tells of her close relationship with her grandmother and gives some insight into African-American culture. The illustrations are very bright and colorful. This book can be used when discussing everyday life and African-American culture.


MacLachan, P. (1980). Through grandpa’s eyes. New York: HarperCollins.


Upper elementary. John learns a different way of seeing the world from his blind grandfather. This book could be used when discussing disabilities, senses, and different ways to do everyday things.


Shaw, E. (1997). Grandmother’s alphabet. Duluth, Minnesota: Pfiefer-Hamilton.


Lower elementary. This book categorizes work roles that grandmothers can do using the alphabet. The book includes occupations such as doctors, gardeners, and x-ray technicians. Grandmothers of different race and abilities are shown. This book can be used for discussions on sex roles, differences in families, and the alphabet.


Smith, C. L. (2002). Indian shoes. New York: HarperCollins.


Upper elementary. Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, lives with his grandfather in Chicago after the death of his parents. The grandfather and grandson share a special relationship, common ancestry, and interest in baseball. The stories portray the grandfather’s and grandson’s love and concern for one another. They also deal with Grandpa’s homesickness for his family in Oklahoma, a Christmas during a winter snowstorm in Chicago rather than with their family in Oklahoma, and Grandpa’s desire to fish with Ray by starlight in the lake behind his family’s Oklahoma home. The more humorous stories depict Grandpa’s creative problem solving strategies when Ray needs a haircut for a baseball game and tuxedo pants for a wedding.


Wolff, A. (2009). I call my grandma Nana. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press.


Lower elementary. The author introduces readers to different terms for grandmothers in this rhyming text. Young children are shown engaging in different activities they like to do with their grandmothers and the term they use to address their grandmothers. At the end of the text the author includes a chart showing grandmother names around the world, such as Abuela/Abuelita in Spanish, E-li–si in Cherokee, and Babushka in Russian.


Wolff, A. (2009). I call my grandpa Papa. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press.


Lower elementary. The author introduces readers to different terms for grandfathers in this rhyming text. Young children are shown engaging in different activities they like to do with their grandfathers and the term they use to address their grandfathers. At the end of the text the author includes a chart showing grandfather names around the world, such as Abuelo/Abuelito in Spanish, E-du-di in Cherokee, and Dedushka in Russian.


Interracial Families


Adoff, A. (1973). Black is brown is tan. New York: Harper & Row.


Lower elementary. The author describes the daily activities of a happy, interracial (African-American and European-American) family written in free verse.


Davol, M.. W. (1993). Black, white, just right! Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Lower elementary. The story’s narrator claims to be “just right” with some characteristics and preferences similar to her African American mother and some comparable to her European American father. As she and her parents dance, shop, visit an art museum, and eat together, she notices differences and similarities. The text portrays a closeness among the family members.


Monk, I. (1999). Hope. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Book, Inc.


Lower/upper elementary. During a visit with her great-aunt, Hope learns the story behind her name and learns to feel proud of her biracial heritage. This book can be used for discussions on interracial families, heritage of names, family histories, biracial pride, and intergenerational relationships.



Kinds of Families 


Bertrand, P. D. G. (2007). We are cousins. Houston, TX: Pinata Books.


Lower elementary. In very simple Spanish and English, the author explains how cousins are related and activities they do together, such as share clothes, sit on Grandpa’s lap, fit in Grandma’s hugs, celebrate birthdays, sleep over at each other’s homes, and blame each other when something goes wrong. The illustrations portray a Latino/a family, but the depictions of cousins fit different cultures.


Combs, B. (2000). A B C: A family alphabet book. Ridley Park, PA: Two Lives.


Lower elementary. The letters of the alphabet provide a format for introducing readers to everyday family activities, such as reading books, baking cookies, and seeing animals at the aquarium. The illustrations show gay and lesbian families in positive family relationships.


Combs, B. (2000). 1 2 3: A family counting book. Ridley Park, PA: Two Lives.


Lower elementary. Readers count families, houses, books, and toys as they see illustrations of diverse families, including gay and lesbian and interracial families. Families are shown as loving and close.


Cole, J. (1995). How I was adopted. New York: Morrow Junior Books.


Lower elementary. Samantha tells how she came to be with her parents through adoption. This book includes tips for parents raising adopted children. This book talks about the adoption procedure and how the most important detail about family is love.


Coste, M. (2006). Finding Joy. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press.


Lower elementary. When Shu-Li was born in China, her parents wrapped her in a red blanket, put her under a bridge, and pinned a note to her blanket expecting someone to find and take care of her. At first Shu-Li is taken to an orphanage, but a family from North America wants to adopt a baby girl and the mother flies to China to get Shu-Li. Shu-Li’s new family welcomes her into their lives and name her Joy. In the author’s note, the author explains China’s one-child policy has led to parents giving up baby girls in the hope of having a son who will care for them when they are old.


Dwight, L. (2005). Brothers and sisters. New York: Star Bright Books.


Elementary. The text and photographs illustrate the closeness among brothers and sisters, including those with different abilities. The different abilities or physical characteristics are explained in simple, child-friendly language. For example, two of the brothers were born with shortened limbs or fingers. One brother has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is described “When he plays with his animals, he concentrates so hard he forgets about everything around him.” Blindness, Down syndrome, deafness and hearing impairment, and cerebral palsy among sisters and brothers are explained by their siblings. The text can be used to discuss how brothers and sisters play together and care for each other while also acknowledging different abilities.


Garden, N. (2004). Molly’s family. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


Lower elementary. When Molly draws a picture of her family, including her two mothers, Mommy and Momma Lu, another child in her kindergarten class tells her it’s not a family because she can’t have two mothers. However, Molly discovers others don’t have a daddy or have only a daddy for their family, and her teacher reassures her she can have two mothers. Molly’s mommy explains she gave birth to Molly, but her partner Momma Lu adopted her, which made them a family. The text raises the issue of acceptance of diverse families.


Hausherr, R. (1997). Celebrating families. New York: Scholastic Press.


Lower elementary. This book is like a photo album. It contains biracial families, blended families, foster families, adopted families, divorced families, and many more. It also describes different places families live, such as a ritzy apartment, homeless shelter, or house.


Hoffman, M. (2010). The great big book of families. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Lower elementary. The text and illustrations introduce different types of families, including single-parent, grandparents and grandchildren, two-mother or two-father families, and adopted or foster families. The author also introduces differences in family sizes; homes, such as large houses, tiny apartments, and those who are homeless; differences in who has jobs in families, including some who can’t get a job at all; differences in family vacations, including those who can’t afford a vacation; and differences in feelings among family members. The text portrays a variety of ways for families to obtain food and clothing, various holidays they might celebrate or hobbies they might have, and different forms of transportation they might use. Overall, the author seems to emphasize the variety among families and the acceptance of those differences.


Janness, A. (1990). Families: A celebration of diversity, commitment, and love. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Text for upper elementary, photographs for lower and upper elementary. Through photographs and text, the author presents various kinds of families (blended, adopted, single-parent, immigrant, and gay parents) from different cultures including Mexican-American, Eskimo, African-American, and Asian-American.


Johnson, J. (1997). How do I feel about my stepfamily. London: Aladdin Books.


Lower and upper elementary. Four children in the text describe different stepfamily structures, issues associated with stepparents and stepbrothers and sisters, and some of the challenges in coping with changes in becoming part of a stepfamily. The author describes common problems children face in being part of a stepfamily and advice for solving the problems.


Lindsay, J. W. (1991). Do I have a daddy? Buena Park, California: Morning Glory Press.

Lower elementary. A single mother explains to her son that his daddy left soon after he was born. This book includes a section for single parents to help them answer tough questions about the absent parent.


Masurel, C. (2001). Two homes. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.


Lower elementary. Alex explains how he spends time with both parents, even though they are no longer living together. He has two of everything–two homes, two rooms, two favorite chairs, two kitchens, two bathrooms, and two telephone numbers. However, he knows he loves both parents and they love him no matter where he is.


Newman, L. (1989). Heather has two mommies. Los Angeles: Alyson Wonderland.


Upper elementary. Heather sees nothing unusual in having two mommies, until she joins a playgroup and discovers other children have daddies. This book discusses different types of families such as blended, adopted, and divorced. However the focus is on children with gay parents.


Okimoto, J. D. & Aoki, E. M. (2002). The white swan express: A story about adoption. New York: Clarion.


Elementary. The text portrays four different “families” from North America who choose to adopt baby girls from China. With great excitement, two heterosexual couples, a lesbian couple, and a single woman fly to Guangzhou to meet their new daughters and complete all the paperwork for the adoption. The author’s “afterword” elaborates on the adoption process of Chinese baby girls, which is precipitated by China’s official policy that each couple is allowed only one child. As in most countries, Chinese couples prefer boys to girls, which means many girls are sent to orphanages.


Peacock, C. A. (2000). Mommy far, mommy near: An adoption story. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Elementary. The author introduces readers to Elizabeth and Katherine who were both born in China, but adopted by a European American family in the United States. Readers learn that Chinese families give up children for adoption because of China’s one-child per family policy. The author emphasizes that both the birth mother and the adopted mother love Elizabeth, even though the birth mother could not keep her.


Polacco, P. (2009). In our mothers’ house. New York: Philomel Books.


Elementary. The text describes the close relationships and family activities of a two-mother family with three adopted children from different racial/cultural backgrounds. The text is narrated by the oldest child, an African American girl. The mothers, Marmee and Meema, communicate how much they want and treasure each child. The text and illustrations show the importance of music, original Halloween costumes, a tree house, and special holidays for the family. It also describes the mothers’ efforts to organize a neighborhood block party and involve everyone in offering different games and diverse foods. However, one neighborhood family does not participate and communicates its displeasure with the two mothers while everyone else shows their support for the two-mother family. The author shows the continuity of the family in the children’s marriages, their own children, and their regular return to the home they shared with their two mothers. Following the death of both mothers, one of the children, Will, and his family, return to live in the home where the two-mother family cared for one another. The text can be used to discuss different family structures as well as adoption.


Rogers, F. 1997). Let’s talk about it: Stepfamilies. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.


Lower elementary. The text introduces the changes and challenges for children when one of their parent’s remarries. Children may have to attend a different school, share a room with a new stepbrother or stepsister, and share their parent with a stepparent. The author acknowledges different feelings children may have and how they might solve some of the problems they find in their new family.


Skutch, R. (1995). Who’s in a family? Berkeley, California: Tricycle Pres


Lower elementary. This book describes different family structures within society. It also describes what families do. The book also makes comparisons between animal families and human families.


Super, G. (1991). What is a family? USA: Troll Association.


Lower elementary. This book examines the concept of family, the different kinds of families found in society, and the interpersonal relationships that make them function. It also discusses challenges of family life and intergenerational relationships.


Tango Books. (2010). All kinds of families. London: Tango Books.


Preschool and lower elementary. Each pages includes a way for the reader physically to interact with the book by pulling down an inside page, opening a flap, turning a wheel, or drawing a picture of her/his own family. The main message is that families are very different, including two-parent and one-parent families, small and large, and adopted, foster, or care families. The text also emphasizes that families care for their children differently, sometimes siblings get along well and other times do not, and there are different activities families engage in. However, a commonality is that families comfort one another.


Tax, M. (1981). Families. New York: Feminist Press.


Lower Elementary. The text defines families as “those you live with and who you love,” and affirms diversity among families. It portrays divorced families, remarriages with half-sisters and half-brothers, two-parent families with children, extended families, adopted families, childless couples, single-parent families, and same-sex families. The main character communicates acceptance of each type of family as she introduces them to readers.


Wilgocki, J. & Wright, M. K. (2002). Maybe days: A book for children in foster care. Washington, DC: Magination Press.


Elementary. The text addresses various reasons why children must live in foster care rather than with their families. It reassures children that they are not to blame for their need to live with foster parents. The text also deals with some of the issues regarding foster care which children often struggle with, including having mixed feelings for their families and foster families, telling others about living in foster care, and dealing with many uncertainties while living in foster care. The author introduces readers to various people involved in foster care, including parents, foster parents, social workers, therapists, lawyers, and judges. The text also includes notes to foster parents and other adults to help them work with children living in foster care.


Willhoite, M. (1990). Daddy’s roommate. Los Angeles: Alyson Wonderland.


Lower elementary. This book depicts the everyday lives of Nick, his father, and his father’s partner. They go shopping, to a ball game, to park, and zoo. This book can be used for discussions on everyday life and children with gay parents.



Sex Roles 


Zolotow, C. (1972). William's doll. New York: Harper & Row.


Lower elementary. When William asks for a doll to play with, his father, brother, and neighbors all express disapproval because dolls are for girls. William's grandmother gets a doll for him to practice being a father.





Ackerman, K. (1994). By the dawn’s early light. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.


Lower elementary. While two children eat dinner, do their homework, prepare for bed and go to sleep, their mother works at a factory on the “graveyard shift.” Readers learn how Nana, the children’s grandmother, cares for the children while their mother prepares cardboard boxes, takes breaks, and eats lunch at the factory. The author communicates love among the family members and the importance as well as the difficulties of the mother’s factory job as the family’s only income.


Blaine, M. (1975). The terrible thing that happened at our house. New York: Scholastic.


Lower elementary. The author describes the challenges a family faces when the mother returns to work as a science teacher. Everyone learns to help with meal preparation, cleaning, and laundry so the family has time together.


Browne, A. (1986). Piggybook. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Lower elementary. When a father and two sons expect the mother to complete all the housework and meal preparation in addition to working outside the home, the mother protests by leaving. She returns when everyone agrees to assume some responsibilities around the house.


Maury, I. (1976). My mother the mail carrier. Old Westbury, NY: The Feminist Press.


Lower elementary, Spanish and English text. The book describes a single-parent mother and the many challenges she faces as she delivers mail and takes care of her daughter. Both mother and daughter are strong, independent females.


Merriam, E. (1989). Daddies at work. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Lower elementary. This book describes various jobs daddies may do. Men from different ethnic backgrounds are shown working various jobs including being umpires, waiters, pilots, doctors, and artists.


Merriam, E. (1989). Mommies at work. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.


Lower elementary. This book describes various jobs mothers may do. Women from different ethnic backgrounds are shown working various jobs including being doctors, TV directors, homemakers, teachers, and dancers.


Mitchell, J. S. (1984). My mommy makes money. Boston: Little, Brown.


Lower elementary. The book describes the value of many different kinds of jobs mothers can do, including being a minister, secretary, artist, carpenter, and surgeon. Women of different races are shown working.



Audiovisual Resources


Cohen, H. S. (Executive Producer), & Chasnoff, D., Ben-Dov, A. J., & Yacker, F. (Directors). (2000). That’s a family: A film for kids about family diversity [Video]. (Available from Women’s Educational Media, 2180 Bryant Street, Suite 203, San Francisco, CA 94110)


The 30-minute film and accompanying discussion/teaching guide deals with different types of families. It begins with an explanation of what a family is and introduces examples of mixed race families, families with adopted children, children living with grandparents as guardians, gay and lesbian families, divorced families, and single-parent families. The discussion/teaching guide provides a sample letter which could be sent to families prior to showing the video in class, provides background information on different types of families, and offers instructional activities which could accompany the video.


Annotated bibliographies list