My Family and Relatives: Books for Young Children
From noisy family gatherings to quiet cuddles, young children will recognize the many kinds of activities that families of all sizes do together, such as eating, playing, celebrating -- and helping the youngest members grow up! These books also highlight a wide range of cultural backgrounds and family traditions.
For more children's books on family, see:
- Reading Rockets' themed booklists
- 50 Books about Family (Children's Cooperative Book Center)
- Recommended Picture Books Featuring Multiracial Families (Children's Cooperative Book Center)
- Parent Reading Tip Sheets for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers in 13 Languages (Colorín Colorado)
A Birthday Basket for Tía
Cecilia and her cat, Chica, create a special birthday present for her great-aunt's 90th birthday — a basket filled with things Cecilia and her tía have shared. This affectionate autobiographical story is illustrated with warm colors, suggestive of Mexican American traditions.
Alma and How She Got Her Name
If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names. Winner of the 2019 Caldecott Honor Award.
Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic
While on a visit to her aunt and uncle in Illinois, the narrator and her family unexpectedly find a field of growing soybeans which begins a 40 year tradition. Based on the author's experiences, text and child-like illustrations reveal a caring, surprisingly modern family story from times past.
Based on the author’s childhood experiences travelling to visit relatives in the South and lavishly illustrated by her husband, the text and illustrations combine to present a warm and memorable family story.
Black Is Brown Is Tan
Rhythmic language and luminous paintings show the joy of this warm and loving family as they rejoice in their differences.
Windy Girl is blessed with a vivid imagination. From Uncle she gathers stories of long-ago traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude. Windy can tell such stories herself–about her dog, Itchy Boy, and the way he dances to request a treat and how he wriggles with joy in response to, well, just about everything.
Building with Dad
Dad's helper is ready to visit the construction site of his new school! Clever rhymes take us through the building project, from the groundbreaking to the finishing touches as the first school buses arrive. Children will pore over Bill Thomson's life-like quality of the illustrations depicting big machines and the construction site.
Cora Cooks Pancit
Cora wants to learn how to cook, but she's too young to do the jobs her older siblings do. One day, however, after the older kids have all gone out together, Cora asks her mother what they can cook together. To her surprise, Cora's mother asks her what she would like to make, and Cora chooses her favorite Filipino noodle dish, pancit. This family story about the importance of sharing tradition is brought to life by Kristi Valiant's charming illustrations and includes a bilingual glossary of Tagalog words.
Dancing with the Cranes
Product Description: Dancing with the Cranes gives an understanding of birth, life and death. Chi's momma is soon to have a baby, but Chi is having a hard time being happy about it. Chi misses Temma (her grandma), who has passed away. Chi's momma and daddy help ease the pain of losing Temma and help Chi to understand life and death as a part of nature. Chi soon finds herself feeling comforted, knowing Temma will always be a part of her and looking forward to the new baby who will be a part of their lives.
Juno can barely wait to open the letter that has arrived from his grandmother in Seoul, but he needs his parents to read it since it's written in Korean! Finally he decides he can wait no longer and he finds inside a leaf and a photo of a cat. Juno responds by drawing pictures for his grandmother, and when she sends him a pack of colored pencils, he knows she would like more of his letters. This quiet, beautiful story celebrates the joy of exchanging letters with a loved one and the importance of maintaining strong family ties no matter the distance.
Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana
Children spend Sunday visiting their grandparents, play with school friends on Monday, daydream on Tuesday, eat popcorn at the local market on Wednesday, and more, until we arrive at Saturday, when they get to play nonstop all day. Along the way, we also learn how the names of the seven days came to be. Partly based on the real life experiences of Alarcón's own family, this festive, celebratory collection of poems highlights the daily life of children while also honoring the experiences of the poet's Latino family in the United States.
Fortune Cookie Fortunes
Full, Full, Full of Love
Young Jay Jay helps his loving and much loved grandmother prepare for a big family dinner.
Harvesting Friends / Cosechando Amigos
Young Lupe loves helping her mother with their salsa garden full of tomatoes, chile peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro. But one summer day, she sees that the biggest, juiciest tomatoes have disappeared! Who could have taken them? Including easy-to-make recipes, this bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8 will have them clamoring for a garden of their own to plant and harvest. Along the way, young readers and the adults in their lives too will learn that coming together as a community will enable them to harvest more than just vegetables.
Just the Two of Us
Jubilant illustrations show how a father supports his son as he grows into a man and eventually becomes a father himself. The text is from Will Smith's popular song of the same name, and is distinguished by luminous, full-color paintings that make the words sing.
Lily's New Home (Confetti Kids)
Lily and her parents move from their suburban neighborhood to New York City. Lily is used to living in a house on a quiet street. When they arrive at their new apartment, Lily notices the amount of activity all around. Kids play jump rope on one corner. Buses and taxis zoom by. Lily feels like a small ant on such a busy block and worries that she’ll never feel at home. As she and her parents explore their new, multicultural neighborhood, Lily discovers that sometimes change can be a good thing.
Lola Reads to Leo
Lola is excited that she’s going to become a big sister. She and her parents are prepared for Leo's arrival — especially Lola who reads to him on every occasion! Warm paintings illustrate this gently, recognizable look at one family's everyday goings-on.
Whether it is a gentle kiss from mom, a hug from dad, a playful romp with an older brother, or reading with grandpa, babies and toddlers will discover the importance of family relationships in these charming photographs of Native American families. Loving Me features multi-generational family members loving and caring for a child, as they caress and tenderly show their babies and young children how much they are loved.
Product Description: Poor Maggie struggles to master her chopsticks — it seems nearly everyone around the dinner table has something to say about the "right" way to hold them! But when Father reminds her not to worry about everyone else, Maggie finally gets a grip on an important lesson.
Mamá and Me
Product Description: For a bilingual girl and her mamá , a loving bond is about being together…and independent. Arthur Dorros's skillful and subtle blend of English and Spanish narrative, illustrated with bold, striking paintings by award-winning artist Rudy Gutierrez, offers readers a poignant reminder that every day with Mamá is sweet.
My Daddy and I
A boy and his father, shown as African Americans in warmly hued illustrations, enjoy doing everyday activities together, from laundry to sharing a book and more. The simple pleasures of family life are conveyed affectionately through easy but flowing language and realistic paintings in a sturdy format.
Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe
As a mother holds her toddler, they muse over the way their love would translate if they were different animals. But no matter how they change, they will always be “us.” This bilingual story is a timeless ode to the unshakable bond between parent and child.
Peter did not want to give up his things from babyhood, especially his old blue chair. When he recognizes that he has outgrown his once favorite chair, he helps his father paint it for his new sister. This modern classic is illustrated in textured collage and unaffected text.
A Mexican American girl and her grandfather have just finished baking cookies, and everyone in the family wants one. Follow along as the girl shares the cookies one by one! Spanish version available. A lesson plan is included on the Lee and Low website.
A mother and her child get the ingredients for soup on a snowy day and then add everything to the pot. The pair plays snug and warm while the soup simmers until Dad comes home when they enjoy soup together. Crisp collage and a simple text make for a cozy read.
Speak English for Us, Marisol!
"Marisol is rushing home from school to see to her cat, but on the way she's stopped by adult family members and neighbors who need her to translate from Spanish for them so that they can communicate with shopkeepers and officials in English. Whether she's helping Uncle Tomas bargain with the poultry man, showing her neighbor how to fill out an application form, or speaking for Mama about a problem with the telephone bureaucracy, Marisol translates the words and also interprets the messages across cultures." — Booklist
Summer Days and Nights
A rhyming text and soft, idealized illustrations present a young child's pleasure in summer activities — from shooting "straight down the slide" to a picnic in the shade with her parents. The small size of the book makes it ideal for sharing one-to-one.
Ten Days and Nine Nights: An Adoption Story
Product Description: Follow a little girl as she and her family prepare for the new baby that will soon be joining them. And simultaneously, watch the girl's mother fly off to Korea, meet the new baby, and bring her home. Here is a child-centric look at the adoption process through the eyes of a soon-to-be older sibling.
Thank You, Omu!
Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu's delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself? Debut author-illustrator Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu's stew, with an extra serving of love.
The Best Mariachi in the World
Product Description: Everyone in Gustavo's family is in a mariachi band…Everyone except Gustavo, that is. They all play violines, trompetas and guitarrones. They all make wonderful music in restaurants and at wedding parties. Gustavo would love to join the band, but he can't play any of the instruments. What's a wannabe mariachi to do? Follow Gustavo as he finds his place in the family mariachi band.
The Empanadas That Abuela Made
Product description: Baking is always a treat, particularly when you throw family and fun into the mix. In this whimsical look at the making of empanadas, popular children's author Gonzales Bertrand serves up the festive fun of a family's effort to concoct the delicious pastries with humorous cooks and family: Abuela, Abuelo, the cousins, aunts, uncles, and even the family dog join the parade of fluttering flour and swirling sugar. Alex Pardo de Lange fills the pages with offbeat illustrations of blankets of dough and dancing rolling pins. Bilingual text.
The Good Luck Cat
A child narrates how a much loved cat, Woogie, brings good luck to her family. When Woogie is lost, its luck may have run out — but the resolution is luckily both satisfying and happy. Richly hued illustrations add authentic details to a universally appealing story set within a Native American family and told by a Muskogee-Creek writer.
The Perfect Gift (Confetti Kids)
In this story, Mei’s family is throwing a 100-days birthday party for her little brother — a traditional Chinese celebration after the arrival of a baby. Mei’s grandma is in town for the festivities and teaches Mei about the different customs. Mei can’t wait for the party, but she worries about what to give her little brother. With help from her friends and grandma, Mei discovers that the best gifts are those from the heart.
The Ugly Vegetables
In a neighborhood of flower gardens, a Chinese-American girl and her mother plant what the child considers to be ugly vegetables. The ugly vegetables, however, become attractive and help build community when made into a delicious soup! A recipe is included.
Tía Isa Wants a Car
The narrator and her aunt work to save money to buy a shiny green car to take them to the sea. Though it takes time, Tía Isa and her niece reach their goal and buy the car that brings them to the beach. Cheerful illustrations and an upbeat narration with a sprinkling of Spanish words create recognizable characters in a realistic setting based on the author's childhood memories. Also available in Spanish.
Tomatoes for Neela
Neela loves cooking with her amma and writing down the recipes in her notebook. It makes her feel closer to her paati who lives far away in India. On Saturdays, Neela and Amma go to the green market and today they are buying tomatoes to make Paati's famous sauce. But first, Neela needs to learn about all the different kinds of tomatoes they can pick from. And as Neela and Amma cook together, they find a way for Paati to share in both the love and the flavors of the day.
Under My Hijab
Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab.
We Are Cousins
Product Description: Cousins are friends and rivals. Cousins are funny and frustrating. But the most important thing is that cousins are family. From the moment they get together, the fun begins. Written in simple language for children ages 2-5, the brief English and Spanish text will become a valuable tool to encourage children to think and talk about their own families.
What Can You Do With a Rebozo? / ¿Qué puedes hacer con un rebozo?
Product Description: In a playful celebration of a vibrant culture, a young girl and her family show all the things they do in their daily lives with a rebozo, a traditional Mexican woven shawl. Lively prose and rich illustrations honor a warm and colorful cultural icon.
See more great related resources and videos in our Multicultural Literature section!