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Books that Teach Us to Appreciate Family

These stories portray family love through different family structures and circumstances.

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It’s the time of year when many families gather to dine together, laugh together, play games, exchange gifts, and sometimes, debate and argue with one another. Check out the following books for examples of family love and what it means, through different family structures and circumstances.

We Are Family

by Patricia Hegarty; illustrated by Ryan Wheatcroft
(Tiger Tales, 2017)

Recommended by the owner of Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe in Boulder for its inclusive message, this book celebrates the differences and similarities between 10 different families as they eat, sleep, work, and play. Each family looks different, but love is their commonality.

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Why is Dad So Mad?

by Seth Kastle; illustrated by Karissa Gonzalez-Othon
(Kastle Books, 2015)

Through his experiences serving in the military, Seth Kastle developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now as a husband and father of two girls, Kastle wrote Why is Dad So Mad? to “help [my girls] understand why I am the way I am now. This is not who I used to be,” Kastle says on his website. This self-published book gives readers a picture of what having PTSD feels like. It conveys the message to children of affected service members that even if parents struggle with anger it is not the child’s fault, their parents love them more than anything.

In Plain Sight

by Richard Jackson; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
(Roaring Brook Press, 2016)

Sophie lives with her parents and disabled grandfather, who sits by the window. Every day after school when Sophie comes home, Grandpa asks Sophie to help him find the things he lost throughout the day. Recommended by Denver Public Library children’s librarians, readers can hunt through the detailed illustrations for Grandpa’s lost items, while sensing the bond between grandparent and child.

The Invisible String

by Patrice Karst; illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
(Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018)

Author Patrice Karst was first inspired to write The Invisible String when she was a full-time working mother, dropping off her son at preschool. To ease her son’s separation anxiety, she told him there was an invisible string made of love that would connect them, and the concept brought him comfort. New this December is the companion book, The Invisible Leash, which explores the spiritual connection that people have with their family pets.

I Am Perfectly Designed

by Karamo Brown with Jason Brown; illustrated by Anoosha Syed
(Henry Holt and Co., 2019)

In 2007, Karamo Brown, known as the culture expert on the Netflix series, Queer Eye, found out he had a nine-year-old biological son, Jason, and gained full custody. Upon meeting Jason for the first time, Brown said he felt a strong connection to him. The book, which Brown wrote with his son, follows a boy and his father as they walk through the city, discovering all the ways they are perfectly designed for one another.

The Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight

by Jennifer Holm; illustrated by Matthew Holm
(Random House Books For Young Readers, 2019)

There isn’t much peace in the kingdom shared by the Evil Princess and the Brave Knight—one makes mischief and the other rescues cats in distress. But are the royals’ personalities always as they seem? Parents and kids will recognize the parallel to complicated sibling relationships in their own homes, while laughing at the fun, imaginative story.

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Librarians and book experts also recommend:

Covers: We Are Family: Tiger Tales. Why is Dad so Mad?: Kastle Books. In Plain Sight: Macmillan. The Invisible String: Hachette Book Group. I Am Perfectly Designed: Macmillan. The Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight: Penguin Random House.

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