Pre-K

Growing Reader

Tween

One Step at a Time: 13 Books About Blended Families

by Devon A. Corneal

Books for Stepchildren and Stepfamilies
Photo credit: Katrina Wittkamp, The Image Bank/Getty Images

As both a stepdaughter and a stepparent, I know that navigating the world of blended families can be challenging. When I was growing up, divorce was not the norm and stories with families that looked like mine weren’t common. Because stories help kids process their feelings and validate their experiences, it’s important that children in blended families read books that contain characters like them. Those characters might be angry, anxious, exited, fearful, confused, or overwhelmed and might struggle to fit into a new family dynamic. Seeing their experiences as normal can help kids (and parents) work through challenging times to build families that, while new, are full of love and respect. We’ve found a few of our favorite new and old titles that show all the complexities and joys that come with stepfamilies.

  • Do You Sing Twinkle? A Story About Remarriage and New Family

    by Sandra Levins, illustrated by Bryan Langdo

    Also available from:

    Told from Little Buddy’s point of view, Do You Sing Twinkle? walks young readers through the basics of stepfamily terminology. It is both a sweet story and a helpful resource for parents looking to guide their children as they adjust to new family members and dynamics.
    Ages 3 - 6

    Also available from:
  • When Otis Courted Mama

    by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

    Also available from:

    Cardell the Coyote lives in the desert with his divorced parents, both of whom love him very much. Cardell is very happy ... until Otis starts courting his mama. Cardell’s worries that his mama will choose Otis over him make accepting Otis hard, until he comes to realize that his mama has enough love for both of them.
    Ages 3 - 6

    Also available from:
  • Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four

    by Maria Ashworth, illustrated by Andreea Chele

    Also available from:

    Blending families sometimes means having new siblings and that can be hard for young children trying to learn to share their parents’ attention. But in this picture book by Maria Ashworth, one young girl soon realizes that sharing isn’t so bad if your new brothers take your side against a big bully.
    Ages 4 - 8

    Also available from:
  • Annie and Snowball and the Wedding Day

    by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Suçie Stevenson

    Also available from:

    This story about the day Annie meets her future stepmother is a lovely and honest look at how children build relationships with new people in their lives, helping early readers move past their anxieties and look towards a new happily ever after.
    Ages 5 - 7

    Also available from:
  • The Sleepover

    by Jen Malone

    Also available from:

    Meghan, Paige, and Anna-Marie are planning the most awesome sleepover ever! At least they thought it was going to be awesome until they realize they have to include Anna-Marie’s soon-to-be stepsister Veronica. The night starts with fun tween pranks, but things get off track when Anna-Marie unexpectedly goes missing. Ultimately the girls learn to work together to find their friend in this laugh-out-loud read.
    Ages 9 - 13

    Also available from:
  • The Thing About Leftovers

    by C.C. Payne

    Also available from:

    Fizzy wants to win the Southern Living cook-off, but she has a lot on her plate with her parents’ divorce, a suspiciously flawless stepmom, her mom’s rude boyfriend, and feeling like she just doesn’t fit anywhere in her family. Trying to be a good kid in the midst of it all is exhausting. At turns funny and poignant, The Thing About Leftovers gracefully handles the angst of both middle school and stepfamilies.
    Ages 10+

    Also available from:
  • The It Girl

    by Katy Birchall

    Also available from:

    Anna is shy and just likes to spend time with her dog and her two school friends. Then Anna’s dad gets engaged to a celebrity and her whole life turns upside down. As she’s forced out from the shadows and into an international spotlight, Anna has to figure out how to navigate having a new stepmom, being famous at school, and, of course, dealing with the paparazzi.
    Ages 9 - 13

    Also available from:
  • Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen

    by Donna Gephart

    Also available from:

    Olivia wants to get on a game show so she can fly to California and see her dad who lives there with his new family. As she prepares for her try-out, she’s surprised to receive help from her brother, her mom, her almost-stepdad, and, most unlikely, her arch nemesis. Will all of their hard work pay off? And will Olivia get the family she wants in the end? You have to read to find out!
    Ages 8 - 12

    Also available from:
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall

    by Patricia MacLachlan

    Also available from:

    Sometimes, the people we need most come from the most unexpected places. When Anna and Caleb’s father places an advertisement for a new wife, they are understandably wary of the woman who answers it. A classic Newbery Medal-winning book set in the nineteenth century, Sarah, Plain and Tall remains a sensitive and remarkable story about how love can rebuild a family broken by loss.
    Ages 8 - 12

    Also available from:
  • Amelia’s Family Ties

    by Marissa Moss

    Also available from:

    Traveling between families is something many stepchildren know all too well. Amelia is about to visit her father and his new wife and children for the first time, and she has to face the fear, excitement, anger, and uncertainty that the visit brings. Written as a 10-year-old girl’s journal with doodles and pictures, Amelia’s Family Ties will feel familiar to anyone who has had to learn to exist in two separate family units.
    Ages 8 - 12

    Also available from:
  • The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case

    by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

    Also available from:

    In this middle grade novel, five stepsiblings are kidnapped and must find a way to work together to escape. The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case is a wildly entertaining tale, from the author of Newbery Honor-winning The Egypt Game, that proves nothing brings a family together like a crisis.
    Ages 8 - 12

    Also available from:
  • The Steps

    by Rachel Cohn

    Also available from:

    Annabel is not thrilled when she gets sent to visit her father in Australia and meet his three stepchildren (one of whom is her exact age!), so she decides to use the opportunity to convince her father to ditch his new family. The perfect story for any preteen who has fantasized about putting their family back the way it was before, and learning to accept their new lives and the unexpected benefits that may come with it instead.
    Ages 8 - 12

    Also available from:
  • Lord of the Deep

    by Graham Salisbury

    Also available from:

    Mikey has a great relationship with his stepfather, Bill, and this year he gets the chance to be the deckhand on Bill’s deep-sea charter boat. Learning to fish is only one thing Mikey will learn from Bill this summer as the two of them take on thrilling adventures in this coming-of-age tale.
    Ages 12+

    Also available from: