What makes a family a family? Jewish life revolves around family – the Torah even outlines the obligations that families have to support each other, both emotionally, and physically. In Hebrew, mishpacha means family – and it’s not just a word, but a value to embrace as well. And families come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and configurations. Families can be large, small, multi-generational, all living under the same roof or spread out geographically. These pictures books are all about mishpacha and the many beautiful, diverse, and varied ways to be a family.
The list below features PJ Library books, titles by PJ Library authors like Leslea Newman, Patricia Polacco, and Todd Parr, as well as books that our staff love and have on their own bookshelves.
Books Featuring Many Different Families
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other's traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year. All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.
Book summary from the author's website.
The children in this quiet book appreciate simple pleasures: gathering rocks on the beach, harvesting ripe tomatoes, the act of climbing a tree and witnessing the splendor of the world around them. Research shows that taking time to be grateful for all the good in your life makes you happier. Seeing the wonders of the everyday world is a special talent of young children, who approach their environment with fresh eyes. When passing babies “from neck to knee,” we slow down and take note of the miracles all around us – our children chief among them.
Humans and animals care for their young in many ways. They share food, go swimming, cuddle, and of course, give plenty of hugs and kisses. See the similarities in this charming photographic book. Vibrant images of loving families make this book perfect for families everywhere! Part of the Babies Everywhere™ series.
Description from Starbright Books.
There are so many different types of families, and THE FAMILY BOOK celebrates them all in a funny, silly, and reassuring way. Todd Parr includes adopted families, step-families, one-parent families, and families with two parents of the same sex, as well as the traditional nuclear family. His quirky humor and bright, childlike illustrations will make children feel good about their families. Parents and teachers can use this book to encourage children to talk about their families and the different kinds of families that exist.
Summary from the author's website.
This fun, inclusive board book celebrates the one thing that makes every family a family . . . and that's LOVE.
Description from Bookshop.org.
Books With LGBTQIA+ Family Representation
Roger is “different,” much to his parents’ dismay, until he teaches them just how fabulous being different can be!
Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, is a time for cozy family togetherness. But come Saturday evening, Shabbat is over. The family in the story, a young girl joined by her Mama, Ima, Savta, and Saba, gathers together to perform the rituals of Havdalah, marking the end of Shabbat and the return to the work week. Together they show just how cozy even the end of Shabbat can be.
Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two hands, two feet, two pets, and two mommies! When a child at her new school asks her about her daddy, Heather’s teacher has all the children draw pictures of their families and learns “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” A brand new edition, with updated lively illustrations, carries the same message of celebration of diversity.
Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don't accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema's house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn't mean wrong. And no matter how many moms or dads they have, they are everything a family is meant to be.
Description via Google Books.
Nate wants to be an alien for Purim, but his friends are all dressing up as superheroes. How will he fit in? Nate's dads help him come up with the perfect solution.
When Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning--from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does making things right actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.
Summary provided by bookshop.org
Books Celebrating Adoption and Foster Families
One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of stepsiblings, and another has a new baby. As one by one, her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation — the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special.
Description provided by Goodreads.
This story of a woman who travels to China to adopt a baby girl, based on the author's own experiences, is a celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the home.
Description pulled from Goodreads.
by Brynn Olenberg Sugarman
The Stein family welcomes a new daughter in this adorable story of adoption.
Choco wishes he had a mother, but who could she be? He sets off to find her, asking all kinds of animals, but he doesn’t meet anyone who looks just like him. He doesn’t even think of asking Mrs. Bear if she’s his mother-but then she starts to do just the things a mommy might do. And when she brings him home, he meets her other children-a piglet, a hippo, and an alligator-and learns that families can come in all shapes and sizes and still fit together.
Keiko Kasza’s twist on the “Are you my mother?” theme has become one of the most highly recommended stories about adoption for children.
Summary from Penguin Random House
Rosie's Family is a story about belonging in a family regardless of differences. Rosie is a beagle who was adopted by schnauzers. She feels different from the rest of her family, including her brother, who is the biological child of her parents,and sets forth many questions that children who were adopted may have.
Books Featuring Single Parents
In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other.
Description from Goodreads.
Julian, star of Julian is a Mermaid and the follow-up adventure, Julian at the Wedding, is cared for by his grandmother, Abuela. In both stories, she's the sole caregiver we see with fun Julian and she encourages his expressive and playful dress and love for costumes.
Luna loves library day: that's the day she spends with her dad. Exploring the shelves they find magic, mystery and even start to mend their own history.
When Sofia learns that her best friend, Maddi, doesn't have enough food in her fridge, she wants to help -- but Maddi has asked Sofia not to tell anyone. This beautiful story of friendship mixes the right dash of humor with warm storytelling to help introduce kids to big questions about feeding the hungry and what it means to be a friend.
In this warm and tender story by the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Thank You, Omu!, join a mother and daughter on an up-and-down journey that reminds them of what's best about Saturdays: precious time together.
Stories About Chosen Family
Recommended for children 6 to 7 years old
Everyone in Goldie Simcha’s apartment building knows it’s Friday night when they smell her delicious Shabbat cholent. But one Friday night, Goldie doesn’t feel well enough to cook. Her neighbors step up to make an unusual cholent for Shabbat -- and soon Goldie will feel much better.
Recommended for ages 5 to 7
Honey takes care of her garden every day -- even though she's going to be moving away soon. Laurel, her neighbor next door, knows she's going to miss her. But Honey explains to her that friendship, like her garden, has a way of growing -- despite time and distance.
Recommended for ages 6 to 7
Mrs. Goldman takes care of everyone in the neighborhood, including her young neighbor, Sophia. When Mrs. Goldman gets sick, Sophia creates a special “get well” present with a very personal touch.
A long-lasting friendship develops between Larnel, a young African-American boy, and Mrs. Katz, a lonely Jewish widow, when Larnel presents Mrs. Katz with a scrawny kitten.
Baa! Moo!...Mishpuchah? When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives at a farm full of animals, each with their own way of speaking, communication seems impossible...but family is something everyone can understand! Toddlers will enjoy quacking, crowing, and neighing along with this brightly illustrated picture book.
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May 26, 2021