Embracing Diversity: A Booklist Exploring Family Structures and Relationships

Posted On: June 26, 2024

Delving into the world of family diversity through literature opens up a treasure trove of insights into the intricate tapestry of human relationships. From LGBTQ+ families to blended households and single-parent dynamics, these stories not only celebrate the richness of varied family structures but also foster empathy and understanding among readers of all ages.

1. “Heather Has Two Mommies” by Lesléa Newman

This classic children’s book celebrates LGBTQ+ families and teaches children about diversity.

Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two pets—and two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. This delightful edition for a new generation of young readers features fresh illustrations by Laura Cornell and an updated story by Lesléa Newman.

Heather Has Two Mommies
2. “The Family Book” by Todd Parr

Todd Parr’s colorful and simple illustrations introduce children to a wide range of family structures, highlighting that families come in all shapes and sizes.

Parr’s message about the importance of embracing our differences is delivered in a playful way. With his trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes, this book will encourage children to ask questions about their own families. Perfect for young children just beginning to read, The Family Book is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, promote character growth, and strengthen family relationships.

The Family Book
3.“And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Based on a true story, this book tells the tale of two male penguins who adopt an egg and become loving parents.

At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo get the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

Selected as an ALA Notable Children’s Book Nominee and a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, “this joyful story about the meaning of family is a must for any library” (School Library Journal, starred review).

And Tango Makes Three
4. “The Great Big Book of Families” by Mary Hoffman

This book explores the concept of family diversity by showcasing families from all around the world, each with their unique customs and traditions.

This fun and fascinating treasury features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life-from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Ros Asquith’s humorous illustrations perfectly complement a charming text from the acclaimed Mary Hoffman; kids will love poring over these pages again and again. A celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over, The Great Big Book of Families is a great big treat for every family to share.

The Great Big Book of Families
5. “The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island” by Dana Alison Levy

This middle-grade novel follows a loving, diverse family as they embark on a summer adventure, highlighting the joys and challenges of being part of a blended family.

The Fletchers are back on Rock Island, home of all their best summer memories. But from the first day they arrive, it’s clear that this year, things have changed. FIRST, a giant fence is blocking their beloved lighthouse. SECOND, they have new neighbors. THIRD, who the heck is the weird artist guy who’s never actually painting? And FOURTH, there’s now an ice cream truck! Can the island stay the same even with these crazy transformations?

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island
6. “Julian Is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a young boy named Julian who expresses himself and explores his identity in a supportive family environment.

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

Julián Is a Mermaid

7. “The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted” by Mary Zisk

This book is a touching story of a child who was adopted by a single mother, celebrating the strength of single-parent families.

A girl tells how her mother decided to become a single parent and traveled overseas to adopt her and describes their happy life as a family.

The Best Single Mom in the World
8. “My Two Moms” by Zach Wahls

Written by a child of a same-sex couple, this memoir explores the author’s experiences growing up with two moms and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.

In My Two Moms, Zach offers a stirring and brave defense of his family. Raised by two moms in a conservative Midwestern town, Zach’s parents instilled in him values that families everywhere can embrace—values driven home by his journey toward becoming an Eagle Scout. Zach’s upbringing couldn’t have been more mainstream—he played sports, was active in Boy Scouts, and led his high school speech and debate team—yet, growing up with two moms, he knows that it’s like to feel different and fear being bullied, or worse.

My Two Moms
9. “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

While not specifically about family diversity, this picture book celebrates inclusivity and diversity in schools, making it a great addition to discussions about diverse family structures.

Discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.

Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.

All Are Welcome
10. “Families, Families, Families!” by Suzanne Lang

This humorous and heartwarming book features animals in various family arrangements, showcasing the idea that love is what truly defines a family.

No matter your size, shape, or pedigree–if you love each other, you are a family!

Moms, dads, sisters, brothers — and even Great Aunt Sue — appear in dozens of combinations, demonstrating all kinds of nontraditional families! Silly animals are cleverly depicted in framed portraits, and offer a warm celebration of family love.

Families, Families, Families

These carefully selected books serve as more than just stories; they are invitations to explore, understand, and appreciate the diverse forms that families can take. Whether read alone or shared, they provide valuable opportunities for conversations about inclusion, love, and the importance of acceptance in today’s world.

By embracing the diversity depicted in these books, readers embark on a journey toward deeper empathy and connection with the myriad ways families can thrive and love.

While you’re here, you might like to check out our recorded sex positive trainings for parents here.

About Dr. Martha Tara Lee

Dr. Martha Tara Lee has been a passionate advocate for positive sexuality since 2007. With a Doctorate in Human Sexuality and a Masters in Counseling, she launched Eros Coaching in 2009 to help individuals and couples lead self-actualised and pleasurable lives. Her expertise includes working with couples who have unconsummated marriage, individuals with sexual inhibitions and discrepancies in sexual desire, men with erection and ejaculation concerns, and members of the LGBTQIA+ and kink communities. Dr. Lee welcomes all sexual orientations and is available for online and face-to-face consultations. Martha speaks English and Mandarin.

She is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in the region (as of 2011) and is also an AASECT certified sexuality educator supervisor (as of 2018). She strives to provide fun, educational, and sex-positive events and is often cited in the media including Huffington PostNewsweek, South China Morning Post, and more. She is the appointed Resident Sexologist for Singapore Cancer Society, Of Noah.sgOfZoey.sg, and Virtus Fertility Centre. She is the host of radio show Eros Evolution for OMTimes Radio. In recognition of her work, she was named one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women under 40’ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the author of Love, Sex and Everything In-Between (2013),  Orgasmic Yoga: Masturbation, Meditation and Everything In-Between (2015), From Princess to Queen: Heartbreaks, Heartgasms and Everything In-Between (2017), and {Un}Inhihibited (2019).

You can read the testimonials she’s received over years here. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.

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