Most picture and children books show pretty traditional families. But many families today look different (and hey, they have for a while.). There are patch work families, single parents, gay relatives... you name it. And so we went looking for books that reflect these various family situations. After all, for children it is important to know that they are not alone in their fate, that other kids are just like them or go through similar things, even if it is just somebody in a story.
For a more extensive list of diverse children's books in German, see here
Alexandra Maxeiner / Anke Kuhl
Vom Kind der neuen Freundin vom Bruder von Papas früherer Frau und anderen Verwandten.
This award-winning non-fiction title shows different families in cartoon-like illustrations. .There is the picture-perfect family of mom, dad and kids. Some have no siblings, but two moms and two dads. There are orphans and foster children. Some families are loud, others not. Some like sports, others don't. In some families you recognize a likeness, right away, in others even twins may look and be very different. The message of this book is: Families come in all shapes and forms and each is unique.
5 years and up
DIE BESTEN GESCHICHTEN VON WILLI WIBERG
There is probably no need to introduce Willi Wiberg: a modern classic that has been read by little children and their parents all over the world since 1972. (Though he has different names in different parts of the world. In Sweden he is Alfons Aberg). Willi, who in some stories is 3 years old, in others 6, is a little boy that lives in an apartment building with his dad. No mention is made of the mother, no explanation given why she isn't around. We see the dad bringing Willi to bed and falling asleep with exhaustion, he cleans the house, cooks, is a little chubby and bald and likes to read the newspaper. Willi is a normal little boy full of energy. He wants a much too big birthday party, gets visited by demons of guilt after he hits a smaller child in frustration at the soccer field. Another time he stops playing to girls when other boy make fun of him and has his first day of school.
4 years and up
Belinda Nowell / Misa Alexander
WER HAT SCHON EINE NORMALE FAMILIE?
Alex is very happy, he will have a little sister. When he shares the news with other kids at school, all are happy for him but one: the bully Jimmy makes mean remarks because his little sister is a foster kid. Just like Alex. When he gets home, he asks his mom: are we a normal family? Surprisingly she says: No! And then they look at the class photograph discussing the family set up of each child and discover: there is no such thing as a normal family. The Australian Belinda Nowell grew up in a blended family herself and wanted to write an inclusive book that challenges the conventional idea of family. Once published the book quickly proved very popular with children and received literary awards.
3 years and up
Kirsten Boie / Philip Wächter
Nella loves pink and glitter and wishes she had golden locks. Her mother has more practical ideas. Her mother also doesn't always have time for Nella - she is a student and single mom. Nella is a happy child, she doesn't mind that she sometimes sleeps over at her best friend, sometimes stays with her grandmother who has stricter rules. She enjoys seeing her dad occasionally who maybe knows less about raising kids than Oma, but always buys her an ice cream. And slowly she learns that different people have different ideas on important questions in life.
These well written and amusing stories about the chaotic everyday life of a single parent are fun to read for children and adults alike.
5 years and up.
LUZIE LIBERO UND DER SÜSSE ONKEL
Luzie loves soccer and spending time with her favorite uncle. And she gets to see lots of him while her parents are away and she stays with her grand mom. But when his boyfriend turns up, she gets very jealous. She wants her uncle all to herself...
This picture book got raving reviews for its great artwork and story that celebrates a strong little heroine that learns to deal with a strong feeling - and makes no big deal of homosexuality.
4 years and up
LOS GEHT'S - DIE MAFFLIES (Vol.1)
Big changes in the life are ahead of seven year old Maximilian Pummel. He and his father are moving in with his father's love and her daughter Lara. Maximilian is not excited about it. But he has no choice.
When he suddenly sees a small green haired creature the size of his thumb in the new kitchen, he perks up. The green creature is a Mafflie: apparently each household has one and they bring chaos. Maximilian is delighted, the Mafflie will be his friend. And maybe it will help help him get rid of his mean stepsister? Little does he know that Lara has some help on her side, too.
This series will have all laughing - not only patchwork families. Good to read aloud and for beginning readers, too.
6 years and up
EIN MANN FÜR MAMA
Su, her sister and her mother move in with their strict grandmother, a weird grand-aunt and a pretty young aunt after her parents get divorced. But Su wants to get out of the house, her grandmother sets up all the rules and they are strict. So she decides to find a partner for her mother. If only she wouldn't get herself and the others in so many embarrassing situations.
Christine Nöstlinger, who hassbeen awarding many literary prizes for her children's books including the Astrid Lindgren memorial award and the Hans Christian Anderson award was one of the first to write novels for children with a fine ear for the perspective of the children. She also always tells life as it is, sometimes messy, sometimes beautiful, and hence has written quite a few novels about patchwork families and children of divorced parents.
7 years and up