Posted on April 01 2019
Happy Mother's Day! We hope those of you celebrated yesterday had a wonderful day.
Today, guest blogger Thomasin James, mum to two boys aged 3 and 5, talks about her day and picks her top 10 kids books about mums:
It’s Mother’s Day! The day when, in theory, we all get a chance to put our feet up and feel a bit, well, appreciated. That’s not to say that being a mum is a thankless task, but modern-day mothering is a fairly mammoth job of juggling work, home, children, relationships and all the other ‘life’ stuff that 21st-century womanhood entails. It’s easy to feel a bit like you’re always swimming against the tide.
I love Mother’s Day because it gives the kids and me a chance to step back and just enjoy each other. It’s a day where motherhood is truly celebrated, in all its different forms.
As we sat together for story time tonight, I was struck by the thought that mothers take so many different roles in children’s literature. So, I thought it was about time to look at some of my favourite books for children that are about mums, in one way or another. Here are my top ten kids’ books about mums:
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Ok, I know that, technically, Harry Potter is an orphan, but J.K. Rowling’s books are filled with mother figures. Whether it’s the wonderfully motherly Molly Weasley or the more complicated, conflicted figure of Narcissa Malfoy, Rowling knows what it is to be a mum and to put your children above all else. We even get to know Harry’s mother as the series progresses; her ultimate act of sacrifice is the crux of the entire narrative.
- Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy. On a lighter note, this is a lovely, comical illustration of the daily battle to get just a moment to yourself as a mum to young children. Beautifully illustrated, this book shows Mrs. Large trying to do the simplest of things: take a bath. But throw small children, sibling rivalry and a general need for attention into the mix, and things just aren’t all that straightforward. Watch as Mrs. Large grows increasingly weary and exasperated. It’s a tale all mothers will identify with.
- The Witches by Roald Dahl. Mother’s Day isn’t just about mothers, but step-mothers, grandmothers and maternal figures everywhere. The Witches is a story of an orphaned, unnamed boy, who goes to live with his grandmother after his parents are killed in a car accident. A former witch-hunter, she explains to him the danger of these most terrifying female creatures, but ultimately, is unable to save him from them and he is turned into a mouse. A bittersweet tale of the love between a young boy and his Granny, which is so strong, that he accepts his shorter life as a mouse as he can’t bear the thought of outliving her.
- Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Most of us remember that horrible moment as a child when you realise that you’ve lost your mum - however momentarily. This adorable book from Julia Donaldson portrays a little monkey who has become separated from their family in the jungle. Butterfly comes to help, but doesn’t realise that they’re looking for another monkey - after all, her caterpillar children don’t resemble her at all! This is a lovely story for young children, and gently makes the point that families come in all shapes and sizes. Also available as a fantastic audiobook, voiced by Imelda Staunton.
- The Strongest Mum by Nicola Kent. In plenty of kids’ books about mums, we see the classic, tireless, endlessly patient, motherly figure. This book is a breath of fresh air in its portrayal of a hard-working mum, who one day just gets too tired and needs a bit of help. It’s a beautiful story depicting how mums can have limits too, and how children can do their little bit to lighten the load so that mum can keep on being brilliant.
- My Mum by Anthony Browne. Another fabulous story about mums and how they are seen through a child’s eyes: an excellent cook, a great painter, powerfully strong and a brilliant juggler. With beautiful, engaging illustrations, this book grows in appeal with every read and works on so many different levels. A lovely gift for new mums.
- My Mum is Fantastic by Nick Butterworth. This book is wonderful for children of all ages, but with its carefully drawn characters and simple storyline, it’s a solid choice for children who are learning to read. Butterworth’s illustrations are bright and make the plot easy to follow, and families everywhere will love it: a celebration of mums in all their fabulousness.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This is obviously one for older children, but I simply couldn’t write a blog about mothers in literature without mentioning Mrs. Bennet, the mother who just can’t help but push, cajole and embarrass her children. We’ve all been there.
- Held In Love by Dawn Casey. ‘May your eyes look to the stars and know that you are held in the arms of the universe, held in love.’ A perfect first book for babies, this is a lovely gift for new parents. With dreamy, reflective illustrations, its message is universal in our hopes for our children, right from the very beginning.
- Superhero Mum by Timothy Knapman. I love this book because it depicts so charmingly the very real ‘magic powers’ that mums have to children. Whether we make a cut or bruise disappear with a kiss, run for the bus like we’re flying or carry everyone’s kit and caboodle with our super-strength, we’re all superheroes to our kids.
So there you have it: my top tens books about mums, written for kids. For me, they all include something about why each mum is special and perfect for their particular child or children. And isn’t that what Mother’s Day is all about?