Reading a book 200 times is a surefire way to find out whether you love it or want to throw its rhyming llama couplets into the diaper pail. Children's books especially do a tricky dance for an audience of squinty-eyed parents and wide-eyed tots: the best ones, like a syringe of infant-suspension Tylenol, have a little something for the parent at the end. These are the ones we are celebrating in This Book Belongs To — the books that send us back to the days of our own footed pajamas, and make us feel only half-exhausted when our tiny overlords ask to read them one more time.
Mother's Day is upon us, and my favorite gift to give for any gift-giving occasion is a good book. There are lots of great books for mothers, but I wanted to find books that mothers could read with their kids. Books with cool or relatable mom characters. Moms are often absent or very play a very limited role in most picture books. That's understandable, because kids mostly want to read about kids (or dinosaurs or cars or talking turtles or their obsession du jour.) These 10 books with awesome mom characters range from poignant to fun to downright silly. They are sure to put a smile on your kid's face, but on yours as well (even after the hundredth read.)
1. 'Everything Is Mama' by Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon wrote a follow-up to Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada. Instead of parents urging their children to say "Dada" here the children only want to say "Mama." There's no sweeter sound than hearing your baby say "Mama" for the first time. This book really drives home just how much moms mean to their babies. It's also a great book for practicing animal sounds with young readers.
2. 'Mommy's Khimar' by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
The little girl in Mommy's Khimar feels beautiful and special wearing a headscarf just like her mother. She imagines she's a queen and a mother bird and all sorts of things while she wears the headscarf. No matter what she imagines, nothings as magical for her as her mother.
3. 'Llama Llama Red Pajama' by Ann Dewdney
Who can't relate to Mama Llama? It's time for Baby Llama to go to bed some Mama Llama can have some me-time. Her me-time consists of doing dishes and gabbing on the phone. She's there for Baby Llama when he really needs her, but she's suitably annoyed for the interruption.
4. 'Teddy's Favorite Toy' by Christian Trimmer
It's awesome that there's a book about a boy who loves his doll beyond reason. His doll Bren-Da may be an action hero and a fashion icon, but when his mom accidentally throws Bren-Da away, it's her turn to spring into action. As Teddy's mom goes to great lengths to get Teddy's toy back, it's clear that he's modeled his beloved doll after his number one hero.
5. 'The Runaway Bunny' by Margaret Wise Brown
This is the classic tale of unconditional love between mom and child. There is nowhere the small bunny can go that the mother won't follow. Kids love the imaginative illustrations, and the fact that on any adventure they might take, they will be loved and supported by their parents.
6. 'Bad Guy' by Hannah Barnaby
On the surface, Bad Guy is a sibling story. A brother plots ways to wreak all kinds of havoc on the house, his toys, and his sister. He even goes to the library with the goal of researching fiendish topics. What moms will appreciate, however, is that the illustrations reveal that the mother character is up to her own bad guy antics.
7. 'You Made Me A Mother' by Laurenne Sala
So many kids want to hear about where they came from. This book tells the universal story of biological mothers and their babies. From pregnancy through childhood, this simply told story perfectly illustrates "Big. Fat. Love." If you're the sentimental type, you might need tissues.
8. 'The Family Book' by Todd Parr
Inclusive and upbeat, The Family Book really captures what's the same and different about all families. Todd Parr's signature colorful illustrations are fun and energetic, but the underlying message is profound. All families love each other, even though they may look very different from the outside.
9. 'Hug It Out' by Louis Thomas
Moms of more than one child will certainly relate to the squabbles between this brother and sister. The mom in the book is tired of hearing it, so she comes up with a solution: the kids have to hug it out. The most relatable moment? When the mom comes in to break up yet another argument and she grips her mug of coffee.
Bonus: the publisher has downloadable activities to do with your kids after you read this book.
10. 'Mother Bruce' by Ryan T. Higgins
Bruce the bear just wants to cook some fancy eggs using an internet recipe but winds up mama to four goslings when he takes too long to get a fire going and the eggs hatch. For anyone who has wondered whether they fit the mold of a classic "mom," Bruce proves that your kids don't care what you look like or how good a swimmer you are — you are their mama, and nothing will convince them otherwise.
Featuring internet recipes, slingshots, and some very tacky Hawaiian shirts, this book is funny and sweet.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.