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6 Books About Chores and Family Responsibilities

Use these reads to teach your little ones all about responsibility.

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In the month dedicated to hearts and love and sweet treats, doing chores is usually not kids’ favorite way to spend their time. But it’s a great way to show love to Mom and Dad! Use these stories to teach kids how home responsibilities vary from family to family, and that there can always be love alongside hard work.

What Will These Hands Make?

By Nikki McClure (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020)

Using paper-cut illustrations, the author/illustrator walks readers through one family’s day, showing all the things that a diverse range of hands can make. It shows a busy town of people using their hands for different jobs, both at home and at their workplaces. In the end, the author asks readers: What will your hands make? Recommended by Gigi Pagliarulo, children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library.

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Home in the Woods

By Eliza Wheeler (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019)

Based on true experiences from the author’s grandmother’s Great Depression-era childhood, this is the story of a single mother and her eight children who, after the death of the father, move into an abandoned tar-paper shack in the woods. The family gets by season after season in the northern Wisconsin woods by working together and dividing up the household responsibilities necessary for survival.

Grandpa Cacao

By Elizabeth Zunon (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2019)

While baking a chocolate birthday cake together in their kitchen, a dad tells his daughter that chocolate is a gift from her Grandpa Cacao, who lives in West Africa, and farms cacao beans. The dad tells the daughter all about the process of grandpa’s work, and how everyone in his village, including the children, worked together to farm, harvest, and sell cacao beans.

Mother of Many

By Pamela M. Tuck; illustrated by Tiffani J. Smith (Mascot Books, 2019)

Inspired by the nursery rhyme, “There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe,” the author, a mother of 11 children herself, tells the story of how a large family really works together to maintain a household. It’s not easy and there is chaos along the way, but her advice to the old woman in the shoe? Give all your children a chore list to do. Then you’ll have time to make them some bread, and you’ll all be happy when it’s time for bed.

The Runaway Shirt

By Kathy MacMillan; illustrated by Julia Castaño (Familius, 2020)

A mother folds laundry, but one particular shirt (with a child inside it) proves to be difficult to fold and put away. The mother keeps trying, but the “shirt” keeps moving, showing a silly way a parent and young child can laugh and imagine together while chores get completed.

Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth

By Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Little Rabbit hears the circus outside, but his mother says he needs to clean his playroom before he goes. He decides to sneak out and join the circus instead, and has an idea for his act: to display the meanest mother on Earth. Mother Rabbit is smart, though, and plays along with the act, while concocting an idea to get the playroom clean at the same time.

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Librarians and book experts also recommend:

Home in the Woods: Penguin Random House. Grandpa Cacao: Elizabeth Zunon. Mother of Many: Mascot Books. The Runaway Shirt: Familius. Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth: HMH Books. What Will These Hands Make?: Abrams.

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