Blended Family Books for Kids

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Read blended family books with your kids to help them see themselves or other people’s families in stories. Bibliotherapy doesn’t substitute for therapy but it’s so helpful to see yourself and others in a story.

Statistics from PEW Research show that 16% of children live in blended family homes as of 2014.

Sometimes it’s helpful for parents to give children books that show that not all marriages and families stay together, that some parents remarry after a divorce, and that step-siblings can be normal and even, a good addition to your life.

Try reading picture books and middle grade books about blended families. Let them be windows and mirrors into your life or someone else’s.

Blended Family Books for Kids

Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family
by Nelly Buchet, illustrated by Andrea Zuill
ages 4 – 8
Using the words CAT, DOG, AND DOG in a different order on each page combined with playful illustrations, we follow what happens when two families join together, one with a dog and one with a dog and a cat. When you blend together, growing pains happen as you see when one dog growls at another and one gets to sleep in bed with the parents. But there’s a turning point when they all get in trouble (and get cones of shame). The last illustration shows them all snuggled together asleep. “Dog Dog Cat.” Charming with a side of hilarious.

Wedgie & Gizmo
by Suzanne Selfors
ages 7 – 10
Dog owners will nod along with the ADHD stream of conscious narration of Wedgie, the barkie dog who LOVES everything. Contrast this with the diabolical plotting narration of the evil genius guinea pig Gizmo who is horrified to be living in a Barbie house instead of his own “habitat.” The two pets’ points of view show a newly blended family which Gizmo’s servant/owner, Elliot, is not happy about. Selfors skillfully addresses this family in transition through the humorous lens of the two pets.

books about blended families
Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters
by Alisa Wild, illustrated by Ben Wood
ages 7 – 10
Squishy is excited to have discovered a boy hiding from the police in the basement of her apartment building. She wants to keep it a secret from her step-sisters but one thing leads to another, and the twins find out. Together, the three help feed the boy until they discover who he really is. Squishy begins to think of her sisters as bonuses, not step-sisters, which makes her feel a lot better about living with them. I really enjoyed this big-hearted mystery.

Stepping Stones
by Lucy Knisley
ages 8 – 12
After her parent’s divorce, Jen moves to a farm with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend whose kids visit on the weekends. It’s a huge transition — she doesn’t love how bossy and whiney her stepsisters are and how annoying her mom’s boyfriend is. But she loves the chicks she takes care of and the farmer’s market.  Well, she loves it until her math skills aren’t good enough to be helpful. This graphic novel story gently shows the ups and downs of living with a new family in a new place.

Two Naomis
by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick
ages 8 – 12
What is it like when your parents are divorced — and one finds a new partner? In this coming-of-age story written from two different points of view, Naomi’s mom is dating a man named Tom who has a daughter also named Naomi. Both parents push them to become friends. Of course, both girls feel resistant — especially when Naomi’s mom asks her to go by Naomi Marie instead of Naomi. It’s a tricky time in these kids’ lives, something the authors made relatable and enjoyable to read. The wisdom the parents give to their kids and their unwavering love for their children is inspiring. This is a story that rings true with a perfect ending.

The List of Things that Will Not Change
by Rebecca Stead
ages 8 – 12
This story is a beautifully written slice-of-life, a growing-up story with authentic characters and relatable themes of family and big life changes. When Bea’s parents get divorced, her dad helps her focus on the things that won’t change — like her parents’ love for her — even though many other things will and do change. To help her feel safe, Bea keeps a list of things that WON’T change in a special journal. (Which, by the way, is a great idea!) When she learns that her dad and his boyfriend are getting married and that she’ll get a new sister, she’s excited. But her new stepsister isn’t excited to be sisters, not at all, at least not right away. It’s a bumpy journey that shows the ups and downs of divorce and changes as well as how much easier it is when you have loving parents.
chapter books with blended families
by Sharon Draper
ages 8 – 12
Isabella spends one week with her dad and his girlfriend, and the next week with her mom and her boyfriend. She hates it. She really hates exchange day when she switches. She feels like nowhere is home, she’s always visiting. And her parents, one who is white and one who is black, don’t get along. Tensions between the families get worse when both parents decide to remarry — on the same date. Add to this hurtful race issues like when she and her stepbrother are pulled over because he’s black and in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sharon Draper writes a story that captures Isabella’s feelings of division as she searches for who she is in her own story.

Operation Sisterhood
by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
ages 8 – 12
You’ll fall in love with this rich slice-of-Black-blended-family life in New York City. It’s always been just Jo and her mum but now they’re joining a new family because Jo’s mum is getting married to Bill. They move into a big brownstone with Bill and his daughter Sunday plus twins Lee and Liland, their parents Mama Hope and Papa Charles, and so many animals — chickens, cats, a lizard, a turtle, and a dog. It’s hard for Bo to get used to so much togetherness and she misses the one-on-one time she used to have with her mum. While she’s adjusting to her new patchwork-quilted family, she and her new sisters embark on a project to make the upcoming wedding a special day. But what will they do? In this chosen family stitched together with love, they value creativity, music, unschooling, communication, special New York spots, and each other — and it’s everything you could want in a family!

Sisters of the Neversea
by Cynthia L. Smith
ages 8 – 12
In this reimagined Peter Pan story, a blended family’s parents aren’t getting along and Lily and Wendy feel the stress. A manipulative Peter Pan takes advantage of their troubles by offering a fantasy land with no problems — which at first seems enticing but soon seems scary and they realize that they’re trapped on the Island. I listen to the audiobook which didn’t have a compelling narrator so I would recommend reading the print book. There is a lot of the story that addresses the treatment of Indigenous people by Peter and by people in Lily’s life– as well as themes of equity and family.

survival books
Stranded by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts
ages 8 – 12
What a great adventure with a realistic conflict between step-siblings who are on a sailboat trip with their uncle! A storm sinks their ship and they barely make it to a deserted island alive. Now they’ll have to work together if they want to survive.

To Night Owl From Dogfish
by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer
ages 8 – 12
I loved the genuine voices of these two girls who write emails back and forth. It’s a heartfelt story about two girls, Avery and Bett, whose dads start dating. First, the girls are determined to stop their dads and also not be friends with each other. Then after lots of emails and meetings at summer camp, the girls become friends who actually do want their dads to be together. But that doesn’t work out. What does work out is Avery finding her mom and Bett’s grandma discovering her love of the theater. The next year it works out that the friends go to summer camp together again — and it’s a different experience than the first year — but the life-changing events that happen may just bring together the families again.

Peas and Carrots
 by Tanita S. Davis
ages 8 – 12
This beautiful story will grab your heart! Dess is a survivor who is reunited with her baby brother in his long-term foster home which Dess helped him get after she called social services on her mother. The foster family loves both kids but their biological daughter Hope struggles between jealousy and compassion for her new sibling. Just as Dess finally starts to trust her foster family, her mother wants her back. (Oh, and interestingly enough, the foster family is black and Dess is white.) There’s way more to the story of course but you should know that it’s a thought-provoking coming-of-age book about family and hard choices.

blended family books for kids


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