Picture books that celebrate the variety of family life

Families are formed when people come together to support and love each other unconditionally. We’ve put together some of our favourite picture books that reflect the variety and beauty of modern family life.


We are Family by Patricia Hegarty

We are Family follows a wide variety of families having a normal day, showing the differences and similarities in bright and detailed retro illustrations. Each page spread shows each family in a moment, and kids will have enormous fun comparing details and following the separate families through their day. There are same-sex parents, a single parent, interracial families, blended families, a variety of cultural backgrounds, a child that uses a wheelchair, grandparents, an adopted child, big and small families. The rhyming text emphasises love, support in hard times and togetherness. For ages 3 and up.

Two other recommended books that show a wide variety of families are The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith, and The Family Book by Todd Parr.


Daddy, Papa and Me and Mommy, Mama and Me by Leslea Newman and Carol Thompson

These simple cheerful board books for babies and toddlers celebrate time spent with one parent or two parents doing everyday activities like going to the playground, dressing up, reading together, cooking, counting and hiding. The illustrations are full of fun, tenderness and movement, and the rhyming couplet text is great to read out loud with gusto. Both books end with the family of three snuggling up to say goodnight. For ages 0 – 2 years.


Tim and Ed by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner

Tim and Ed are two identical koala brothers who prefer to do everything together and who live with their doting single dad. Both koalas are understandably perturbed when Auntie Pim shows up to announce that Ed will come for a sleepover at her house – just Ed. Luckily Tim and Ed discover that they enjoy their separate time with Dad and Auntie Pim, and that they can be brothers from the same egg, and still enjoy their independence and individuality. This is a funny, light story that will be especially enjoyed by families with twins, single parent families or cool aunts. For ages 3 and up.


Teddy Took the Train by Nicky Greenberg

When Dot’s beloved Teddy is left behind in the hustle and bustle and excitement of a trip to the market with her mum, Dot settles on a comforting idea – Teddy must be travelling on his own to attend a special teddy bear’s picnic. Pictures of Dot playing at home with her other toys are interspersed with Teddy’s heightened adventures around Melbourne. Exuberant rhyming text makes this a really fun story to read out loud, and Dot keeps herself feeling hopeful and brave until Teddy comes home. Dot’s mum uses a wheelchair, something that is shown clearly in the illustrations, but not commented on in the text. For ages 3 and up.


Remembering Lionsville by Brownwyn Bancroft

Bundjalung artist Bronwyn Bancroft visits her beloved grandparents country house at Lionsville and takes the reader on an exploration of her family’s fascinating history that incorporates everyday family life, romance, war and the gold mining era. She uses vivid text and vibrant patterned paintings to recreate the freedom of a childhood spent swimming, sleeping on the porch and being close to nature. The joy and importance of listening to the older generation’s stories shines through, and Bancroft shows how her family melds Bundjalung, English, Scottish and Polish ancestries. For ages 4 and up.

Another gorgeous book about an Indigenous family is the humourous bunyip search tale, I Listened and I Looked by Sue Briggs and Donna Leslie, which is suitable for slightly younger readers aged 3 and up.


Mummy and Mumma Get Married by Roz Hopkins, Natalia Winter and Cara King

Phoebe notices that her favourite football player and quite a few family friends are married. When she asks her mothers why they’re not married, they tell her that You-Know-Who won’t come to the party. Thoughtful Phoebe decides to secretly plan a wedding for her Mummy and Mumma. She considers her mums' separate tastes, organises invitations, guests and flowers and manages to pull off a successful party for a whole community. Young readers will love Phoebe’s go-getting attitude and the big celebration, and adults will get the joke on the final page that it’s politicians on both sides that won’t come to the party on marriage equality. For ages 4 and up.


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson

It’s easy to see why this thought-provoking picture book won the prestigious 2016 Newbery Medal. CJ and his grandma take the bus across town every Sunday after church. CJ wonders about many things during the journey. How come they don’t own a car? How come he doesn’t have a digital misic player like other boys on the bus? How come they always get off at a rundown neighbourhood? CJ’s grandma always answers with humour and lucidity, encouraging CJ to see the ordinary beauty in front of him. Their final destination turns out to be a soup kitchen where CJ and his grandma volunteer. This is a gentle story of the bond between a boy and his grandma, and a rare picture book that looks at socioeconomic inequality.


One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail

Sophia is a remarkably prepossessed (some would say precocious) child who has a desperate desire for a pet giraffe. She approaches her mother, father, uncle and grandmother with targeted attempts to convince them that giraffe ownership is the way to go, always to be told (using a range of vocabulary words) that she needs to be less wordy in her pitch. This is a quirky story about a cheeky girl with focus and drive. Her interracial family are bonded together strongly with humour and wit. For ages 4 and up.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She is also the Grants Officer for the Readings Foundation.

We Are Family

We Are Family

Ryan Wheatcroft, Patricia Hegarty

$19.99Buy now

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