Books About Expanding A Family Beyond The “Mommy Is Pregnant” Genre

My family recently underwent the work to become a licensed foster care family. Since this is a big change, I wanted to introduce my three-year-old daughter to the concept of a new little person living with us. However, most books aimed at expanding families for young children are solidly in the “mommy is pregnant!/you’re getting a baby sister/brother” category, with very little out there that addresses the experience of having a new sibling or household member who isn’t a brand-new baby from mommy and daddy, and who might not stay forever (since reunification is the starting goal of foster care, not adoption right out of the gate). It’s complicated! And complicated things are particularly complicated for preschoolers.

To that end, I put my librarian wits to good use and came up with a list of books I found to be helpful in this particular context. If you’re looking for books to read with a little one that aren’t pregnancy-centric, or focus on experiences beyond bringing a new baby sibling home from the hospital, or at least address how families are created outside of one single narrative, then this list is for you!

A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary

This book has everything: diverse families, single moms, divorced parents, blended families, a foster family, a parent with a disability, a grandparent taking on the mothering role…it’s really lovely, and the whole book emphasizes how different families all are from each other (and also how they’re the same). When talking with my daughter about families, this is definitely the go-to.

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers

“Every day everywhere babies are born” is such a great way to start this book, which then goes on to delightfully catalog all the things babies do. Diverse families are front and center, though their exact makeups are often left up to the reader to infer. It’s a charming book about babies that doesn’t prescribe only one way a baby might exist in a family.

What Makes a Baby by Corey Silverberg

Scientifically and developmentally appropriate information is front and center in this book written at a child’s level, but with added social and alternative ways a baby might exist in a family are present as well (adoption, IVF, etc).  While this book might be a little above my three-year-old’s head, it’s nice to know it’s out there when she starts asking this type of question.

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

This book about a wee unicorn who realizes she’s not quite like the rest of her adopted narwhal family is charming and sweet, and a cute way to read about families that might not match.

You Were the First by Patricia MacLachlan

First children in a family have the unique role of getting to do a lot of things first, and this book brings up all those sweet things your first child might have done, as a way to lead up to there being a second in the future.  I love this book for it’s tender way of acknowledging that things are going to change but that a first child should feel secure in the love of their parents, and can know they’ll always be special.

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