Books to Celebrate Mom

Reading recommendations from our very own Dr. Alice Mar

Mothers can be hard to find in children’s literature. My kids and I joke that you have to get the mothers (and fathers) out of the way somehow in order for all the adventuring to begin. Still, in this month that we celebrate Moms, I thought I’d share some books that highlight great Moms of all kinds.


Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman
This book follows the search of a just-hatched baby bird as he looks for his mother. Is It the kitten? The hen? The terrifying Snort? The very young will love the repetition and silliness as the bird keeps mistaking other animals (and non animals) for his mother. In addition, they will love the comfort of the final reunion between the baby bird and his real mother.


Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Three baby owls wake up to find their mother gone. The oldest bravely tries to reassure the others (and herself) that the mother will be back. The other two aren’t as sure, especially Bill, the youngest, who repeats “I want my Mommy” on each page. In the end, Mommy Owl has only gone hunting for food for the threesome and she returns to some unexpected excitement.


Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
A follow-up book to the hugely popular and wonderful Llama Llama Red Pajama. In this installation, Llama Llama is shopping with Mama and he gets bored and then antsy and then MAD. I especially love the way that Mama Llama handles the tantrum- both by clearly telling him he can’t throw a fit and by realizing he needs a little extra attention and gentle help in how to behave in a store. I also love that this is a great example for kids at how Mama’s love their kids even when they are correcting them. It’s a story every preschooler and parent of a preschooler can relate to (and has probably lived through).


Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
This classic book highlights two fabulous Moms: one human and one bear. Sal and her mother are picking blueberries together. On the other side of Blueberry Hill a mama bear and her cub are also preparing for the long winter ahead. The two duos get mixed up but end up with the right mothers in the end.


A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban
I loved all the books about Frances the Badger when I was a child. As an adult, I think this one highlights Frances’s mother’s wisdom and patience the most. Frances is feeling left out after a new baby sister is born. She decides to run away and in typical Frances fashion, runs away to stay under the dining room table. Her parents pretend not to know where she is and let her know how much they still love her by having a conversation where they discuss how their family just won’t be the same without her.


What Mommies Do Best by Laura Numeroff
This whole series of books features a pair of relatives (Mommies/Daddies, Aunts/Uncles and Grandmas/Grandpas). One half of the book shares what one of the pairs “does best” and then if you flip the book upside down and read it the other way you see what the other half does best. The catch is that it’s the same things for each pair: teaching you to ride a bike, sew on a button, bake cookies, etc. The detailed illustrations by Lynn Munsinger show different kid and Mom/Dad animal pairs doing the activities in different ways. And the last “thing” for each family is the same…loving their kids.


Ramona and her Mother by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is one of my all time favorite literary characters. Cleary created such real characters such as Ramona’s Mother. Mrs. Quimby is never perfect but the love between mother and daughter shines through in the midst of the always funny stories of Ramona’s mishaps and adventures.


Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien
You may not think of this story of a fierce field mouse and the super-intelligent Rats of NIMH as being a book about a mother, but it is. Mrs. Frisby is driven to extreme feats of bravery (visiting an owl, flying with a crow, looking for the rats, braving the farm cat) all in order to save the life of her youngest son Timothy.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
It’s true that Mrs. Murry isn’t in the book very much (this is one of those…get rid of the parents to have the adventure books). But it’s also true that she is an amazing role model: beautiful, kind, a brilliant scientist, courageous and loyal. She is also a wonderful role model for parenting quirky and different kids. Meg goes on her adventure looking for her father, but then in the end she returns back home where her Mother’s love and acceptance provide a safe harbor.


Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
You could argue that Lily Potter provides the ultimate example of maternal love by sacrificing her life for baby Harry. But the real heroic mother of the series is Mrs. Weasley. Yes, there is the ultimate scene where she shows what it really means to be a Mama Bear but she also shows what it means to be a mother to an extended family. By the simple act of knitting Harry a sweater for Christmas, she turns a lonely orphan boy into a member of the family. Everyone is welcome at her table, even when she might grumble about it a little bit. She cares for and mothers her own seven children, as well as Harry, Hermione and the rest of the Order of Phoenix.