Sisters: They tease, torment, tattle, and tag after you. They "borrow" your stuff, try to ignore you at school, and compete with you for everything. They're also your staunchest supporter, secret-keeper, giver of good advice, and even your best friend. No wonder there are so many wonderful children's books about sisters: There's so much rich material to draw from, and so many young readers who can relate to it.
Many books in this genre cover the all-important topic of becoming a big sister, with all the anticipation, excitement and, yes, even the confusion and jealousy that goes along with the transition. Other titles celebrate the relationship itself; after all, siblings are our closest blood relatives, and we share experiences with sisters that can't be truly duplicated with anyone else. And let's not forget the books that honestly recall the misunderstandings, fights, and frustrations between sibs. Reading about the struggles of famous sisters like Beezus Quimby, Jo March, Frances the badger, Nancy Clancy, and Raina Telgemeier help children realize that their feelings are valid and that they're not the only ones who've ever dealt with a bossy big sister, a pesky younger one, or a twin trying to find her own identity.
These are just a few of the wide variety of kids' books about sisterhood. Bet there's at least one on this list that will become a "read it again!" favorite with the sister(s) in your household.
1. Maggie May and Lizzie Loo, by Maggie Cordish and Elizabeth Schaul
This charming picture book about sibling rivalry and respecting feelings was written by two real-life sisters, so they know whereof they speak. Schaul and Cordish also have backgrounds in early childhood education — Schaul as a teacher, Cordish as a White House policy advisor.
2. Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary
For generations, the (mis)adventures of Beverly Cleary's famous sisters have been beloved by young readers, and it's easy to see why. The situations are timeless, and the characters are totally relatable. Big sis Beezus tries her best to be patient and loving to preschooler Ramona, even when she scrawls on library books and invites the neighborhood kids over for a playdate. But when Ramona ruins Beezus's birthday cake, will that be the last straw?
3. The Sister Book, by Todd Parr
Todd Parr's books celebrate diversity and acknowledge the challenges of life, and this one is no exception. In simple, fun text and illustration, he explains to young readers that sisters come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities ("Some sisters want to be scientists. Some sisters want to be mermaids"), but that they're all worthy of love.
4. Little Big Girl, by Claire Keane
"Matisse was a little girl in a big world," begins this charming book. Her shoes, her teeth, her car seat all seem tiny compared to what she sees around her. But when her baby brother arrives, she realizes that there's someone smaller in the world — someone who could use a big sister to show him the ropes.
5. Sheila Rae, the Brave, by Kevin Henkes
Big sister Sheila Rae is the courageous one in the family. Nothing — thunderstorms, no-hands bike riding, the big black dog down the block — scares her. But in a surprise twist, it's meek little sis Louise who comes through when Sheila finds herself in a truly frightening situation.
6. Big Red Lollipop, by Rukhsana Khan
Sibling issues span every culture, as this book by Pakistani author Khan illustrates. Big sister Rubina gets an invite to her first American birthday party, and against her wishes, she's forced to bring sister Sana along. The result: A disastrous day, made worse when Sana steals Rubina's prized lollipop. Flash forward a few years, and now Sana has a party of her own to go to. Will she get a taste of her own medicine with their littlest sister?
7. Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, by Barbara Park
Junie B. ("I just like B and that's all") isn't psyched about becoming a big sis. Her mom can't hug her the way she used to. The baby gets new stuff while she has her old junk. And her parents won't let her name the baby Mrs. Gutzman or Teeny. But when Junie B. overhears a conversation that makes her suspect her new brother is actually a monkey, she becomes an instant kindergarten celebrity! This gem from the popular book series will be read and re-read by all the siblings in the family.
8. Fancy Nancy: The Worst Secret Keeper Ever, based on the creation of Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glaser
Fans of the series know that Nancy and little sister JoJo get along most of the time. Still, even the closest of sibs have their moments. When JoJo blabs about everything from Nancy's test scores to the surprise filling in her cupcakes, Nancy is enraged (that's fancy for really, really mad)! But during a movie night with her BF, Nancy discovers that it really can be tough to keep a secret. A simple and relatable lesson in sisterly empathy.
9. Hermanas/Sisters, by David McPhail
This English/Spanish board book sweetly describes two sisters who couldn't be more different. One is big, the other little; one loves baseball and frogs; the other, not so much. "A una le gustaba despertarse al salida del sol. La otra quería dormir todo el día" (One liked to get up with the sun. The other liked to sleep all day.") But their differences are no match for the love they share.
10. SkySisters, by Jan Bourdeau Waboose
Two Ojibway sisters — one quiet and patient, the other excited and chatty — take a winter's night walk in their north Canadian countryside to see the glorious Northern Lights ("the SkySpirits' midnight dance"). Beautiful illustrations highlight the sisters' bond as they share a moving experience.
11. Pecan Pie Baby, by Jacqueline Woodson
Gia's new sibling isn't even here yet, and she's already tired of all the fuss being made over it. Even her teacher is reading books about being a big sister. Finally, at Thanksgiving dinner, everything comes to a head: "I'm so sick of that DING-DANG BABY!" This paves the way for a heart-to-heart with Mom about the changes on the way and the important part a big sister can play in them.
12. Raising My Baby Sister, by Marissa Martinez
Most books on child care are written by grownups. It's about time we heard from a *real* pro, and that moment is finally here. 9-year-old Marissa Martinez wrote this wise, concise book for fellow older siblings. She explains the basics ("the first important thing for babies is to give them love") and offers some fun observations ("Sometimes when a baby sleeps late, they wake up in the night. They start talking to their imaginary friends, like 'Goo ga mi mi moo banana.' "). A must for the big sister in your household.
13. What Sisters Do Best, by Laura Numeroff
From pushing you on a swing to sharing snacks, teaching you to swim and helping you climb a tree, there are skills that only a sister can put her unique stamp on. This installment of Numeroff's "What ___ Do Best" series is sure to be a favorite.
14. Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly, by Alan Madison
First-grader Velma Gratch lives in the shadow of her two older sisters, who were both star students at her age. Her attempts at being noticed at school fall flat (it's not a good idea to deliberately flunk your classes). But a field trip to the butterfly conservatory not only makes Velma famous, but also awakens her interest in science. A great story about finding your own voice within a family.
15. Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier
Growing up, author Raina Telgemeier begged her parents for a baby sister. But when little Amara finally arrived, Raina discovered that having a sibling didn't quite live up to her expectations. Their complex, yet loving relationship is told compellingly in this award-winning graphic novel.
Maple & Willow Together, by Lori Nichols
Big sister Maple and her little sib, Willow, are as close as two sisters can be. They even have their own secret language. But sometimes sisters can get *too* close. When an afternoon of blowing dandelions turns into a contest of wills, Maple and Willow are separated...only to find that being on your own isn't all that much fun.
17. A Birthday for Frances, by Russell Hoban
This follow-up to "A Baby Sister For Frances" (another great sister book) finds Frances wrestling with her feelings about sister Gloria's upcoming birthday. She wants her sister to be happy — she even spends her allowance on a gift of candy and gum — but at the same time, it's hard to see someone else getting all the attention. Frances's sisterly dilemma rings true for every young reader.