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38 Best Useful and Astounding Children’s Books About Families

Looking for the best children’s books about families? These fun books to teach about diverse families for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Award-winning books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about relationships, moms, dads, grandparents and more to read aloud for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new picture books about family!

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Game Changers HERE

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Thunder Boy Jr. by Alexie Sherman

Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name…one that’s all his own. Dad is known as big Thunder, but little thunder doesn’t want to share a name. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder. But just when Little Thunder thinks all hope is lost, dad picks the best name…Lightning! Their love will be loud and bright, and together they will light up the sky.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Thunder Boy Jr. HERE

Looking for the best children's books about families? These fun books to teach about diverse families for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Award-winning books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about relationships, moms, dads, grandparents and more to read aloud for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new picture books about family!
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Return by Aaron Becker

Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure. It’s her third journey into the enticing realm of kings and emperors, castles and canals, exotic creatures and enchanting landscapes. This time, it will take something truly powerful to persuade her to return home, as a gripping backstory is revealed that will hold readers in its thrall.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Return HERE

Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Pena

When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panadería, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make . . .

Get the lesson plan and activities for Carmela Full of Wishes HERE

Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio

Antoinette’s three burly brothers each have a special talent. Rocky is clever. Ricky is fast! And Bruno is STRONG. Mrs. Bulldog reassures Antoinette that there is something extra special about her—but Antoinette is not so sure. Then one day, while Antoinette plays in the park with her friend Gaston, Gaston’s sister Ooh-La-La goes missing. Antoinette feels a tug in her heart and a twitch in her nose. She must find Ooh-La-La. She will not give up! Can Antoinette rescue the puppy in peril—and discover what makes her extra special along the way?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Antoinette HERE

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio

This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips—never slobbers! He yips—never yaps! And he walks with grace—never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters. But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Gaston HERE

Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming

Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr! That’s the sound of Papa at work. Although he is an inventor, he has never made anything that works perfectly, and that’s because he hasn’t yet found a truly fantastic idea. But when he takes his family fishing on Lake Michigan, his daughter Virena asks, “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish?”―and Papa is off to his workshop. With a lot of persistence and a little bit of help, Papa―who is based on the real-life inventor Lodner Phillips―creates a submarine that can take his family for a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Papa’s Mechanical Fish HERE

A Very Unusual Dog by Dorothy Joan Harris

Get the lesson plan and activities for A Very Unusual Dog HERE

Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins

Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he’s their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can’t seem to rid himself of his new companions. What’s a bear to do?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Mother Bruce HERE

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Eyes That Kiss in the Corners HERE

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

What happens when you lose that special family member who has always been there for you? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up . . . or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Heart and the Bottle HERE

The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Nicky is convinced that his summer with his grandmother in the Wisconsin woods is going to be the worst summer ever. She cooks food that he doesn’t like, there’s an art studio where her living room should be, and he’s expected to do chores—including fishing, the most boring chore ever. But one afternoon, while Nicky is trying to catch their dinner, a raft drifts down the river towards him. The raft has a calming magic about it, affecting both Nicky and the wildlife of the river and woods. Through the raft and the adventures it brings him on, Nicky finds new common ground with his grandmother, a fellow river rat, who encourages him to explore his newfound talent for art.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Raft HERE

Drawn Together by Minh Le

When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. An excellent book for Grandparents Day as well being one of the best Asian American children’s books.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Drawn Together HERE

Lift by Minh Le

Iris loves to push the elevator buttons in her apartment building, but when it’s time to share the fun with a new member of the family, she’s pretty put out. That is, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious new button opens up entire realms of possibility, places where she can escape and explore on her own. But when she’s forced to choose between going at it alone or letting her little brother tag along, Iris finds that sharing a discovery with the people you love can be the most wonderful experience of all.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Lift HERE

A Big Mooncake For Little Star by Grace Lin

Pat, pat, pat…Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake. Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble? In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.

Get the lesson plan and activities for A Big Mooncake For Little Star HERE

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela (grandma) 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?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Julian is a Mermaid HERE

Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love

Julián and his abuela are going to a wedding. Better yet, Julián is in the wedding. Weddings have flowers and kissing and dancing and cake. And this wedding also has a new friend named Marisol. It’s not long before Julián and Marisol set off for some magic and mischief of their own, and when things take an unexpected turn, the pair learns that everything is easier with a good friend by your side. Jessica Love returns with a joyful story of friendship and individuality in this radiant follow-up to Julián Is a Mermaid.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Julian is a Wedding HERE

Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Lyons

Down home is Granny’s house. It’s where Lil Alan and his parents and sister will gather with great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Down home is where Lil Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to their family history. All the kids have to decide what they’ll share, but what will Lil Alan do?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Going Down Home With Daddy HERE

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Alma and How She Got Her Name HERE

Someday by Alison McGhee

A mother’s love leads to a mother’s dream — every mother’s dream — for her child to live life to its fullest. One mother follows her daughter’s development until she becomes a grandmother herself. A deceptively simple, powerful ode to the potential of love and the potential in life.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Someday HERE

Saturday by Oge Mora

A mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Saturday HERE

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed. Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It’s the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it’s a promise that you can make better tomorrows.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Dreamers HERE

The Proudest Blue by Muhammad Ibtihaj

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Proudest Blue HERE

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros

James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.

But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice! Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Remember Balloons HERE

Hike by Pete Oswald

Take to the trails for a celebration of nature — and a day spent with dad. In the cool and quiet early light of morning, a father and child wake up. Today they’re going on a hike. Follow the duo into the mountains as they witness the magic of the wilderness, overcome challenges, and play a small role in the survival of the forest. By the time they return home, they feel alive — and closer than ever — as they document their hike and take their place in family history.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Hike HERE

A Different Pond by Bao Phi

As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Thi Bui’s striking, evocative art paired with Phi’s expertly crafted prose has earned this powerful picture books six starred reviews and numerous awards.

Get the lesson plan and activities for A Different Pond HERE

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco

After being initiated into a neighbor’s family by a solemn backyard ceremony, a young Russian American girl and her African American brothers determine to buy their gramma Eula a beautiful Easter hat. But their good intentions are misunderstood, until they discover just the right way to pay for the hat that Eula’s had her eye on. A loving family story woven from the author’s childhood.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Chicken Sunday HERE

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

When Sheldon Russell Curtis told this story to his daughter, Rosa, she kept every word in her heart and was to retell it many times. He was wounded in a fierce battle and left for dead in a pasture somewhere in Georgia when Pinkus found him. Pinkus’ skin was the color of polished mahogany, and he was flying Union colors like the wounded boy, and he picked him up out of the field and brought him to where the black soldier’s mother, Moe Moe Bay, lived. She had soft, gentle hands and cared for him and her Pink.

But the two boys were putting her in danger, two Union soldiers in Confederate territory! They had to get back to their outfits. Scared and uncertain, the boys were faced with a hard decision, and then marauding Confederate troops rode in.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Pink and Say HERE

The Trees of the Dancing Goats

Trisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family’s preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha’s family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic. It is difficult for them to enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won’t be able to celebrate their holiday.

Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors, “But what can we decorate them with?” Babushka asks. Although it is a sacrifice, Trisha realizes that Grampa’s carved animals are the perfect answer. Soon her living room is filled with trees — but that is only the first miracle of many during an incredible holiday season.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Trees of the Dancing Goats HERE

The Old Truck by Jarrett Pumphrey

When is an old truck something more? On a small, bustling farm, a resilient and steadfast pickup works tirelessly alongside the family that lives there, and becomes a part of the dreams and ambitions of the family’s young daughter. After long days and years of hard work leave the old truck rusting in the weeds, it’s time for the girl to roll up her sleeves. Soon she is running her own busy farm, and in the midst of all the repairing and restoring, it may be time to bring her faithful childhood companion back to life.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Old Truck HERE

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero

When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her. But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.

Get the lesson plan and activities for My Papi Has a Motorcycle HERE

Blackout by John Rocco

One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. The TV shuts off and a boy wails, “Mommm!” His sister can no longer use the phone, Mom can’t work on her computer, and Dad can’t finish cooking dinner. What’s a family to do? When they go up to the roof to escape the heat, they find the lights–in stars that can be seen for a change–and so many neighbors it’s like a block party in the sky! On the street below, people are having just as much fun–talking, rollerblading, and eating ice cream before it melts. The boy and his family enjoy being not so busy for once. They even have time to play a board game together. When the electricity is restored, everything can go back to normal . . . but not everyone likes normal. The boy switches off the lights, and out comes the board game again.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Blackout HERE

Brick By Brick by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

Papi is a bricklayer, and he works hard every day to help build the city, brick by brick. His son, Luis, works hard too–in school, book by book. Papi climbs scaffolds, makes mortar, and shovels sand. Luis climbs on the playground and molds clay into tiny bricks to make buildings, just like Papi. Together, they dream big about their future as they work to make those dreams come true. And then one Saturday, Papi surprises Luis with something special he’s built for their family, brick by brick.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Brick By Brick HERE

Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers

Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself! And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Ocean Meets Sky HERE

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears. Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head. A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Mommy’s Khimar HERE

Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter

Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared. In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Nasreen’s Secret School HERE

Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel

In a letter to his children, a father recounts memories of the role Steve, the tree in their front yard, has played in their lives. Turtleback binding is a highly durable alternative to a hardcover or paperback book. The comprehensive cover reinforcement process will drastically combat wear and tear, keeping your favorite books in great condition for years to come! Turtleback books are ideal for any reader, or for use in schools or libraries.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Our Tree Named Steve HERE

Watercress by Andrea Wang

Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl’s parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can.

At first, she’s embarrassed. Why can’t her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family’s time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Watercress HERE

Best Children’s Books About Families

What are some of your favorite children’s books about families? Are there any must read children’s books about families that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!

Remember: You can get a free lesson and activities for Game Changers by signing up below:

Looking for the best children's books about families? These fun books to teach about diverse families for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Award-winning books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about relationships, moms, dads, grandparents and more to read aloud for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new picture books about family!
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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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