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Baby & Toddler


Growing Reader

6 Sweet Picture Books Perfect for Single Moms and Their Families

by Emma Johnson

Photo credit: Westend61, Getty Images

One of the most powerful forces that influences us as both adults and children is what we see every day. People in our families, communities, friend groups at school and at work determine, in unconscious ways, what we assume to be possible.

When it comes to single-mother families, the message in the media and popular culture is often one of struggle, poverty, loneliness, and lack. Here are some favorite examples in children’s literature that defy those messages for the millions of perfectly whole and happy families that happen to be led by single moms:

  • Appleblossom the Possum

    by Holly Goldberg Sloan, illustrated by Gary Rosen

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    This chapter book is about Mama Possum and her brood of 13 babies who she must teach to survive in the mean world with some tough-love and an ever-watchful eye from afar. Later, the possum babies are stunned to see their beloved mama as even more than their mom — she’s a grown-up who loves dancing by moonlight too.

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  • Llama Llama Series

    by Anna Dewdney

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    Moms love this series in part because seemingly solo Mama Llama is so freaking relatable and she teeters on the edge of blowing her stack as her little Llama Llama gets grumpy during holiday shopping, refuses to share with his playmates, takes all his frustrations out on the poor woman, and will not stay in bed already. She’s also sweet and giving and rounds out a whole, real mom in ways few children’s books do. Stay strong, Mama Llama!

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  • Corduroy

    by Don Freeman

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    This classic is about true love, hard work, and non-traditional families. Teddy bear Corduroy figures he is unlovable because he is missing a button from his green overalls. But Lisa sees past that imperfection, and her pooped-out single mom’s financial constraints, and saves up to take him home to be part of their loving, if modest, household.

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  • No Matter What, Stormy Weather, and other titles

    by Debi Gliori

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    Gliori is a mom of four who lives in Scotland, and her gorgeous books feature cozy messages and images of animal mommies keeping safe and snug their animal babies who are often out-of-sorts, fearful of inclement forecasts, in surly moods, or frightful of the unknowns of sleep time.

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  • The Runaway Bunny

    by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

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    This classic for little ones is about a challenging little kid and his mother, whose undying devotion promises to keep him safe over mountains, through streams, and into human the world. It’s relatable to any single mother’s mama-bear instincts and patience at the hands of a provocative child.

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Are there any other books you think are perfect for families led by single moms? Let us know in the comments section below!