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January book favourites: drawing close to home and family

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Before I begin, BLM needs airplay before anything I’ve got to say. Before you consider buying any of these books, please try to both diversify your child’s library and include books that teach about the difference between terrorism and protest, equality and White Nationalism. For book lists and reading guides I recommend the website & charity We Need Diverse Books. As a White person I am privileged to have never truly experienced racism. I follow the construct that racism = prejudice + power. Allyship starts with advocacy but extends to your purse strings, so if you are in the market for book purchases, focus on anti-racist ones first, preferably by Black creators.


And on to my ramblings:


Happy 2021 everyone! What a sequel to 2020 already (🥴). There’s no beating around the bush, this stuff is rough. When things were hard pre-parenthood my usual solace was a big chunky novel. Unfortunately I do not have the brain space or time for those beauties in this season, so our favourite picture books aren’t just serving Miss G but our comfort too. Here are our favourites which draw our family closer together, encouraging us where possible to focus on our simple family joys in between the sleepless nights! You can click through each title to find it on my bookshop if you’re tempted to add to your collection (this will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you).


One Family / George Shannon & Blanca Gomez


One family beautifully explores all the different ways a family might look. It covers different sex & same sex relationships, multi-generational families, multiracial families, single parent families and families with multiple/single siblings. It does this through working through numbers one to ten, exploring what a family of one, two, three etc can look like. I adore this method - it prevents the othering of certain families, building gradually in number as opposed to boxing each family type. It’s clear that this structure also offers some lovely real life introductions to numerical value and order.


Home / Carson Ellis


Carson Ellis has to be one of my absolute favourite illustrators. ‘Home’ has a similar set up to One Family, but focuses on all the different things a home might be to folk. It covers both reality and fantasy as well as showing disparities in privilege/wealth without any sense of judgement. It also covers differences in lifestyles, for example, right from living in an apartment to living nomadically (‘Some folk live on the road’). Not only does Home offer beaituflly rich illustrations to go with its text, it eventually begins questioning the reader, ‘Who lives here? as opposed to listing the different habitants each time.

Here We Are / Oliver Jeffers


I think this should be a go to book for any expectant parent. Written as a ‘how to’ guide for a new Earthling, Oliver Jeffers absolutely knocked it out the park with this. Starting in space and zooming in to the different aspects of planet Earth, You Are Here grounds the reader in their geographic location. It reminds us that in the midst of Lockdown our house remains the firm foundation for our family.


Happy in Our Skin / Fran Manushkin & Lauren Tobia


Happy In Our Skin is a lovely exploration of the physical closeness of a family unit. Cuddles, counting toes, stretching out to reach others, all the things we as a family are fortunate enough to do. While this might feel bittersweet in reminding us of what we’re missing in our extended family, it explores the joy and comfort in cosyness. I think this one is also a really gentle introduction to bodily autonomy and consent - lots of questions could be raised about what we can do with our body, who we choose to get close to us etc. There’s plenty of representation and I’ve found the genders of a few characters to be pretty ambiguous which was a nice touch.


My Dad Used to Be So Cool / Keith Negley


I mentioned this one in an earlier Instagram post but this fab, punky illustrated book gives a tongue in cheek look at the realities of parenting. The child narrator spends the book talking about the evidences that his Dad used to be a rockstar. He can’t fathom why he isn’t one anymore - any parent will definitely be able to work that one out. For me this one is up there with Jill Murphy’s ‘Five Minutes Peace’. a book technically written for children but definitely aimed at making the adult reading it chuckle.


I do hope that these books gave you a few ideas on cosy, family focused books to enjoy and celebrate the unit (born into or chosen) that you have.

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