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Single-parent Families: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about single-parent families?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to single-parent families. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about single-parent families.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about single-parent families, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Seeing Stone to popular sellers like The Field Guide.

We hope this list of kids books about single-parent families can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

A Thousand Questions
Written by Saadia Faruqi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.

The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?

Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. 

This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk

Running Wild
Written by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Twelve-year-old Willa and her twin brothers have survived with their father in the Alaskan wilderness for five years. But Willa knows this can’t go on—they must escape.

Since their mother died five years ago, Willa, her younger brothers, and her father have lived in the wilderness, in a log cabin they built. They survive on food they grow and animals they hunt. Every year they have struggled a little bit more to survive. Now, with winter approaching and her father becoming more reckless, Willa wonders if they will live to see spring. She also knows her father will never agree to leave. When her father goes on a hunting expedition by himself, Willa convinces her brothers that they must make the four-day journey down the Yukon River to Fort Yukon to get help. But first, they’ll need to survive the treacherous trip…and all the while, their father is on their trail. Perfect for middle grade readers looking for adventure stories with strong female protagonists, Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s Running Wild is a page-turner that hooks you from the beginning and doesn’t let go.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Written & illustrated by Joy McCullough
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel.

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?

Martin McLean, Middle School Queen
Written by Alyssa Zaczek
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Seventh-grader Martin McLean has trouble expressing himself except at Mathletes competitions and now, as a female impersonator but his first-ever drag show falls on the same night as an important Mathletes tournament.

Caterpillar Summer
Written by Gillian McDunn
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond. When Chicken has a “meltdown”, Cat’s the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She’s always knows what he needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat is the glue holding her family together. When a summer trip doesn’t go as planned, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they’ve never met. With their help, Cat can be a kid again for the first time in years, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another’s shoes. Perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Ali Benjamin, this special novel features an unforgettable voice and is brimming with heart.

  • Pie in the Sky - A poignant, laugh-out-loud illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy’s immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks! Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake . . . When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao. To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama. In her hilarious, emotional middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Real Friends.

  • A Kind of Paradise - Read the book that Ali Standish (author of The Ethan I Was Before) calls “a heartwarming story” and Melissa Roske (author of Kat Greene Comes Clean) calls “a joyful, heartfelt debut!” Thirteen-year-old Jamie Bunn made a mistake at the end of the school year. A big one. And every kid in her middle school knows all about it. Now she has to spend her summer vacation volunteering at the local library—as punishment. What a waste of a summer! Or so she thinks. A Kind of Paradise is an unforgettable story about the power of community, the power of the library, and the power of forgiveness.

  • Finding Langston - A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, with 5 Starred Reviews, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2018 When eleven-year-old Langston’s father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago’s Bronzeville district, it feels like he’s giving up everything he loves. It’s 1946. Langston’s mother has just died, and now they’re leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything— Grandma’s Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved. In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn’t feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he’s lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he’s bullied for being a country boy. But Langston’s new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston—a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him. Lesa Cline-Ransome, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book Before She Was Harriet, has crafted a lyrical debut novel about one boy’s experiences during the Great Migration. Includes an author’s note about the historical context and her research. Winner of the 2019 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction A Junior Library Guild selection!

  • Out of Place - When twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein becomes the target of a school-wide bullying campaign, she sets out to find a way to leave her home on Martha’s Vineyard for New York City, where her best friend lives. But Cove discovers that friends can appear in the unlikeliest places, and maybe home isn’t the worst place to be after all. Jennifer Blecher’s debut novel is a voice-driven story about bullying, friendship, and self-reliance that hits the sweet spot for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First. Twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein’s year has gone from bad to worse. First, her best friend, Nina, moved from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. Then, without Nina around, Cove became the target of a bullying campaign at school. Escape seems impossible. But opportunities can appear when you least expect them. Cove’s visit to a secondhand clothing store leads her to a surprising chance to visit Nina, but only if she can win a coveted place in a kids-only design competition. Cove doesn’t know how to sew, but her friend at the retirement home, Anna, has promised to teach her. And things start really looking up when a new kid at school, Jack, begins appearing everywhere Cove goes. Then Cove makes a big mistake. One that could ruin every good thing that has happened to her this year. One that she doesn’t know how to undo. Jennifer Blecher’s accessible and beautifully written debut novel explores actions and consequences, loneliness, bullying, and finding your voice. This voice-driven friendship story is for fans of Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger and Jodi Kendall’s The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City. Includes black-and-white spot art throughout.

Demon Dentist
Written by David Walliams & illustrated by Tony Ross
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“Wacky and reminiscent of Roald Dahl with a twist, middle grade readers who enjoy stories with both laughs and chills will get a kick out of this one.” - Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor

This New York Times bestseller from David Walliams, the UK’s #1 bestselling children’s author and “the heir to Roald Dahl” (The Spectator), launched his books stateside in a big way!

Walliams makes going to the dentist a wacky adventure with his signature humor—this is one dentist appointment you don’t want to miss.

Something strange is happening in Alfie’s town. Instead of shiny coins from the Tooth Fairy, kids are waking up to dead slugs, live spiders, and other dreadfully icky things under their pillows.

Who would do something so horrific? Alfie is sure that Miss Root, the creepy new dentist in town, is behind it all. There’s nothing Alfie hates more than going to the dentist, but to solve this mystery, he may have to book a dreaded appointment….

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Written & illustrated by Jeanne Birdsall
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four young sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother.

Remarkable Inventions Of Walter Mortinson
Written & illustrated by Quinn Sosna-Spear
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this sweeping and inventive debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and Tim Burton, a prodigal inventor flees his home to find his destiny.

In the humdrum town of Moormouth, Walter Mortinson’s unusual inventions cause nothing but trouble. After one of his contraptions throws the town into chaos, Walter’s mother demands he cut the nonsense and join the family mortuary business.

Far off on Flaster Isle, famed inventor Horace Flasterborn plans to take Walter under his wing, just as he did Walter’s genius father decades ago. When a letter arrives by unusual means offering Walter an apprenticeship, it isn’t long before Walter decides to flee Moormouth to meet his destiny.

Walter runs away in the family hearse along with Cordelia, the moody girl next door with one eye and plenty of secrets. Together they journey through a strange landscape of fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees in an adventure that will not only reveal the truth about Walter’s past, but direct his future.

The Gray Whales Are Missing
Written by Robin A. Thrush & illustrated by Diane de Groat
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

This quick-action novel’s setting in sparkling San Diego and Sea World, the marine zoological park, provides a colorful and fascinating topic for this middle-grade adventure story.

Pecan Pie Baby
Written by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by Sophie Blackall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Gia is tired of hearing about the new baby. It hasn’t even been born yet, but everyone, even her friends, seem fixated on it. Gia thinks things are fine just the way they are! And she’s worried: if the baby’s such a big deal now, what’s going to happen to Gia’s nice, cozy life with Mama once it’s born?

Beloved author Jacqueline Woodson and Sophie Blackall have created a heartwarming story for kids adjusting to the idea of a new family member. Young readers will be reassured by Gia’s eventual understanding that the baby won’t ruin the special bond she has with her mom, and might even be a sweet addition to the family.

  • Courage - For fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander, a poignant and timely novel about race, class, and second chances. Ever since T’Shawn’s dad died, his mother has been struggling to keep the family afloat. So when he’s offered a spot on a prestigious diving team at the local private swim club, he knows that joining would only add another bill to the pile. But T studies hard and never gets into trouble, so he thinks his mom might be willing to bear the cost… until he finds out that his older brother, Lamont, is getting released early from prison. Luckily, T’Shawn is given a scholarship, and he can put all his frustration into diving practices. But when criminal activity increases in the neighborhood and people begin to suspect Lamont, T’Shawn begins to worry that maybe his brother hasn’t left his criminal past behind after all. And he struggles to hold on to the hope that they can put the broken pieces of their damaged relationship back together.

  • Ralph S. Mouse - In this third and final Mouse novel from Newbery Medal-winning author Beverly Cleary, Ralph heads to school to see what humans do all day . . . and to discover what the “S” in Ralph S. Mouse stands for! With his rowdy cousins constantly wearing out his motorcycle and the Mountain View Inn manager threatening to take care of the mouse infestation once and for all, Ralph decides it’s time to get away for a while. He convinces his human friend Ryan to take him along to school, where Ralph instantly becomes the center of attention. But when Ryan’s class decides to see how smart Ralph is by making him run a maze, the usually confident mouse starts to fret. What if he’s not as clever as he thought?

  • Ella Unleashed - The Parent Trap meets Best in Show in this charming novel about a girl who must learn to make peace with the unpredictability of life. Ella Cohen was skeptical when her mom started dating Krishnan just a few months after her parents’ divorce. But two years later, she really likes having her new stepfather around. When she decides to enter a junior dog show, Krishnan even lets her start handling his dog, Elvis. She’s determined to become an expert handler, even after her first show ends in disaster. Unfortunately, some things are harder to control—like Ella’s dad, who has changed a lot since the divorce. He used to be laid back and fun, but now he hovers over her constantly, terrified she’s going to shatter into a million pieces if she so much as hints that everything in her life isn’t perfect. Ella is particularly upset that his animosity toward Krishnan keeps him from coming to watch her handle Elvis, especially when she wins a lottery spot in the National Dog Show in Philadelphia. When Ella’s best friends suggest she find her dad a date to the dog show, it seems like the perfect solution. If her dad has a new girlfriend, surely he won’t mind so much that Ella’s mom has a new husband. So Ella decides to play matchmaker, going so far as to create a fake online dating profile in order to find her dad his one true love. But it turns out people, much like dogs, aren’t always so easy to control, and Ella’s plan backfires at the worst possible moment. Can Ella manage to bring her divided life together in time for her moment in the spotlight?

  • The Field Guide - The Grace children discover the faerie world is closer than you think in this repackage of the first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles. After finding a mysterious, handmade field guide in the attic of the ramshackle old mansion they’ve just moved into, Jared; his twin brother, Simon; and their older sister, Mallory, discover that there’s a magical and maybe dangerous world existing parallel to our own—the world of faerie. The Grace children want to share their story, but the faeries will do everything possible to stop them… In honor of the tenth anniversary of the #1 New York Times bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles series, which has more than 12 million copies in print worldwide, this edition of The Field Guide features a larger trim size and an original cover with all-new art from Tony DiTerlizzi.

The Seeing Stone
Written by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi & illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

we said no still you looked now instead someone gets cooked

A Whale in Paris
Written by Daniel Presley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A hopeful and heroic girl befriends a small, lost whale during World War II and together they embark on a journey to liberate France and find their families in this charming debut novel.

The Great Big Book of Families
Written by Mary Hoffman & illustrated by Ros Asquith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This fun and fascinating treasury features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life-from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Ros Asquith’s humorous illustrations perfectly complement a charming text from the acclaimed Mary Hoffman; kids will love poring over these pages again and again. A celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over, The Great Big Book of Families is a great big treat for every family to share.

Feather
Written by Remi Courgeon & illustrated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

How does this piano-loving featherweight of a girl respond when her brothers keep on making her do their chores?

She takes up boxing, of course! Maybe if she gets good enough, they’ll even stop calling her Feather.

Readers will see Feather’s determination and sense of justice as positive, transformative traits that help us on the road to becoming who we really are. and they will root for her as she learns to stand up to her brothers and proves that sometimes the best way to go after what you want is to leap into something new.

Husky
Written by Justin Sayre
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Twelve-year-old Davis lives in an old brownstone with his mother and grandmother in Brooklyn. He loves people-watching in Prospect Park, visiting his mom in the bakery she owns, and listening to the biggest operas he can find as he walks everywhere. But Davis is having a difficult summer. As questions of sexuality begin to enter his mind, he worries people don’t see him as anything other than “husky.” To make matters worse, his best girlfriends are starting to hang out with mean girls and popular boys. Davis is equally concerned about the distance forming between him and his single mother as she begins dating again, and about his changing relationship with his amusingly loud Irish grandmother, Nanny. Ultimately, Davis learns to see himself outside of his one defining adjective. He’s a kid with unique interests, admirable qualities, and people who will love him no matter what changes life brings about.

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