The best mother books

8 authors have picked their favorite books about mothers and why they recommend each book.

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Bad Mother

By Ayelet Waldman,

Book cover of Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace

As a mother and a Women’s and Gender Studies educator, I was enthralled by Ayelet Waldman’s Modern Love scandal of 2005 in which she confessed to loving her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, more than their four children, after which she landed a spot on the Oprah Winfrey stage to defend her position. Bad Mother picks up where that controversy left off, exploring the double standard for mothers, who are expected to see and treat children as the centers of their universe. This book is irreverent and refreshing. Perfect mothers – so-called “good moms” – are for Mother’s Day portraits only. This is a book to read on any other day of the year.


Who am I?

I wear many aprons. I am a writer; a professor of creative writing and literature; a mother to five children – daughters and sons; the wife of a criminal defense attorney; and the daughter of therapists. I read and write at the intersection of these influences: crime, motherhood, and psychology. When I teach children’s literature, I lean toward the Brothers Grimm. Childhood is grittier – more suspenseful – when we darken the stories. The same is true of motherhood. Nobody wants to read about a perfect mother, especially when mothers spend so much of our psychic energy worried about our children in the forms of violence, illness, and death. I prefer to seek out books that complicate the otherwise pristine stories of our lives we pretend to tell.


I wrote...

The Motherhood Affidavits: A Memoir

By Laura Jean Baker,

Book cover of The Motherhood Affidavits: A Memoir

What is my book about?

With the birth of her first child, soon-to-be professor Laura Jean Baker finds herself electrified by oxytocin, the “love hormone”—the first effective antidote to her lifelong depression. Over the next eight years, her “oxy” cravings, and her family, only grow—to the dismay of her husband, Ryan, a freelance public defender. As her reckless baby-making threatens her family’s middle–class existence, Baker identifies more and more with Ryan’s legal clients, often drug-addled fellow citizens of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Is she any less desperate for her next fix?

Baker is in an impossible bind: The same drive that sustains her endangers her family; the cure is also the disease. She explores this all–too–human paradox by threading her story through those of her local counterparts who’ve run afoul of the law—like Rob McNally, the lovable junkie who keeps resurfacing in Ryan’s life.

The Invisible String

By Patrice Karst, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of The Invisible String

I read this book after publishing my own book about grief and why I loved it so much was because the author has a similar vision of people, things, and the world. Reading the story I had the impression that I was reading my own mind. I think this book explains very well to the reader how important love is to keep the connection among those who are separated alive. This story is written in a comforting and entertaining way and I believe it helps heal wounds after a loss.


Who am I?

I was not intentionally set out to write books for children, but I was inspired to do so after struggling to face the challenges brought on by my illness—multiple brain tumors and surgeries. Creating messages through stories for children facing such hardship as a life-threatening illness, at times even brought me the reason I needed to keep fighting for my health and for my life.


I wrote...

The Golden Bowl: A book to help children cope with grief

By Linda Matesa, Oksana Kindzer (illustrator),

Book cover of The Golden Bowl: A book to help children cope with grief

What is my book about?

This illuminating story sheds light on the difficult subject of grieving and loss gently and lovingly. A mother explains to her young son that a person’s soul can be like a bright shiny bowl filled with memories and experiences. She encourages her son to think calmly about their happy times together and to hold onto those memories. Filled with love and hope, this tale shares a meaningful and helpful way to discuss grief with young children.

This heartfelt story helps to make sense of intangible concepts such as what makes up a soul and what happens to someone after they pass away. As young readers are encouraged to use their imagination and creativity, a daunting subject becomes more accessible and less frightening.

Your Mama

By NoNieqa Ramos, Jacqueline Alcántara (illustrator),

Book cover of Your Mama

I absolutely adore this book for its poetic voice and sassiness. It turns the “yo mama” joke into a joyful ode. With sprinkles of Spanish, imagery that pops and sizzles, and a rhythm that begs to be read again and again, Your Mama celebrates Latinx moms, and strong, confident, proud, single mothers everywhere. The illustrations are just gorgeous with vibrant tattoo motifs and fonts. This is a beautiful love letter to the mother and daughter family unit as a thriving, driving force, and I book talk this to whomever, whenever I can!


Who am I?

As someone straddling multiple cultures, growing up everywhere and belonging nowhere, I know what it feels like to not fit in. I know what it feels like to want to hide parts of yourself so you can fit in. And so, as a picture book writer and a Kindergarten teacher, I'm always looking for books that share stories about children trying to figure out their place in the world. I didn't have those books growing up. What a difference that would have made in my own journey. The books that I picked are unique in the way they portray belonging. I hope you love these gems as much as I do!


I wrote...

American Desi

By Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Supriya Kelkar (illustrator),

Book cover of American Desi

What is my book about?

A young girl longs to know where she fits in: Is she American? Or is she Indian? Does she have to pick or can she be both? American Desi celebrates the experiences of young children growing up first and second-generation Indian American: straddling the two cultural worlds they belong to, embracing all they love of both worlds, and refusing to be limited by either.

Mama Always Comes Home

By Karma Wilson, Brooke Dyer (illustrator),

Book cover of Mama Always Comes Home

As a new mom, returning to the workforce after the birth of my daughter, this lovely book became a staple in our repertoire. It sweetly conveys how mamas get called away to other duties, but always come back home to their little ones. It helped me tell my daughter, in a way she could understand, that mamas of all kinds have commitments outside of mothering but those duties do not diminish the love for their little ones at home.


Who am I?

It's a pleasure to share these books with other readers because they so elegantly convey love in a way for young readers to easily understand. They contain elements of reassurance that both children and parents need, especially during times of transition. I didn't comprehend how much love I could have for another person until the birth of my daughter. My love for her was so immense and all-consuming that it brought an unfathomable joy to my life. I read these books to her during transitional times as a way to articulate the infinite love I have for her. I hope they bring as much comfort and closeness to other readers as they have to us.


I wrote...

I Love You More

By Elizabeth Jorgensen, Hannah Jorgensen (illustrator),

Book cover of I Love You More

What is my book about?

Simply put, we are a book about vast love. We hope it brings joy and happiness to all who read it. The message resonates with young and old, child and parent, and anyone who has ever felt the pure joy of love.

Life as a mother

By Chantelle Lambert,

Book cover of Life as a mother: From the Diamonds to the Dirt of Motherhood

Motherhood is a gift. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Chantelle, the author, touches on the less pleasant parts of motherhood. I cried 11 pages in because I empathized with a lot of what Chantelle was saying. I think I related to the author’s story so much because she struggled with her own mental health issues throughout her time as a mother. The book touches on postpartum depression (for moms and dads). Yes, dads can have postpartum too!

The book is raw, emotional, and the absolute truth.


Who am I?

I started this book in 2007. It was a compilation of stories from my experience as a parent; there was no structure to it at all. When my second husband passed in 2017, an ad appeared in Facebook for Author Academy Elite (AAE). I knew it was my late husband giving me that one final push to get the book done. As a (non) perfect parent of three children, I felt my experience could benefit others as I am continuing my journey along my Path to Perfection. As a person who has struggled with depression for her entire life, I can honestly say that parenting is hard. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. And that’s why I think you’ll enjoy these books!


I wrote...

The Path to Perfection: Parenting without a roadmap: tales from a (non) perfect parent

By Dawn Thomas-Cameron,

Book cover of The Path to Perfection: Parenting without a roadmap: tales from a (non) perfect parent

What is my book about?

If Perfection were an actual place, like a city or town, would there be one clearly marked exit on the road there? One that would result in you winding up in a specific location with a plethora of other perfect parents? Would this Path to Perfection be smooth and straight? Or would it be curvy, bumpy, and fraught with detours? More importantly, would anyone actually be there when (or if) you arrived?

Join author, Dawn Thomas-Cameron, as she explores the answers to these questions and more! The Path to Perfection is broken into three main sections: Things That Could Have Been Done Differently, Things I Handled Like a Rock Star! and Pearls of Wisdom. This book is sure to evoke a rollercoaster of emotions as you journey along. And yes, you will cry during parts. That’s the nature of parenting.

Nightbitch

By Rachel Yoder,

Book cover of Nightbitch

A mother of a toddler thinks she’s turning into a dog. Sign. Me. Up. I love a weird and wild story, and this was everything I could ask for. And this mom has the perfect right to explore and embrace her animal side. She’s given up her dream job to be a full-time mom, she’s lonely and exhausted, and she’s overwhelmed and deeply sad. But when she taps into the anger beneath all of that, the rage at our culture that treats mothers with schizophrenic disdain, she becomes something otherworldly, deeply primal, and very powerful. The book is beautiful and hilarious and upsetting in all the right ways, and shows how our anger may actually make us into the people we want to be.


Who am I?

I’m fascinated by angry, feral, primal women. In my book, ten stories feature these women, the ones doing the things we’re not supposed to do, thinking and feeling and saying the things we’re not supposed to. I think we’re beyond powerful when we embrace our anger, nourish and cultivate it, channel it. So I write about these women in the hopes that I’ll get a bit of their strength. The books in this list have inspired me as a writer and thrilled me as a reader.


I wrote...

Dig Me Out

By Amy Lee Lillard,

Book cover of Dig Me Out

What is my book about?

Dig Me Out is ten deeply absorbing stories about the women who won’t smile: angry, aching women, and women returning to base instincts, primal fears, and mythic power. Across past, present, and future, around the midwest and the world, these women demand we witness as they work to break through, to defy, to become. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be safe, but it will be real.

Spanning genres, continents, and eras, Dig Me Out takes on misogyny and homophobia, societal and climatological violence, and the specter of our technologized future — all with a punk rock literary twist.

Mama Bear Apologetics(r)

By Hillary Morgan Ferrer,

Book cover of Mama Bear Apologetics(r): Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies

Our kids are being fed overwhelming amounts of information and countless differing opinions. It’s dizzying to sort it all out and help them discern fact from fiction. Mama Bear Apologetics taught me not how to pre-program my kids' mindsets but rather how to coach them in thinking for themselves. They don’t have to be vulnerable to everything they hear. Instead, they can apply intellect to break down an argument and measure it against sound evidence and what makes sense. This book helped me develop a more solid worldview and showed me in practical ways how to help my kids do the same.


Who am I?

Life is busy. We all feel it. As my husband and I have built businesses, published books, traveled the country, and homeschooled our four kids, we’ve worried at times that our schedule is too packed and we’re losing sight of what matters. Seven years ago, we took time to write out a “Family Values List,” which has guided our family’s trajectory. We measure every decision and opportunity up against our core values. This provides a depth of intentionality in our parenting, which has led us to read (and write!) resources around how to make the most of the time we have together as a family. “Do life together” is on our values list, and it’s what we aim to do each day.


I wrote...

936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting

By Eryn Lynum,

Book cover of 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting

What is my book about?

"Each of these pennies represents one week you have with your child between birth and eighteen.” He handed us the jar along with this weighty explanation for the 936 copper coins inside. We all know “the days are long, but the years are short.” We feel it acutely as parents. Yet, with this jar, I had a visual for my kids’ childhoods. I can make the most of this time, infusing it with meaning, laughter, purpose, and memories.

At some point, every parent realizes time is moving swiftly, and they ask themselves, How am I investing in my child? Through personal stories and biblical examples, 936 Pennies will help you discover how to capture time and use it to its fullest potential, replacing guilt and regrets with freedom. Meanwhile, your kids will see how simple choices, like putting the cell phone down and going on a family hike, will make all the difference. Together you will “count time and make time count.”

The Mothers

By Brit Bennett,

Book cover of The Mothers

In a certain light, Nadia Turner has much to apologize for. Pain, grief, and alienation throb in the background of some of her teenage decisions, which are rife with consequences that ripple through generations. Though various characters try to shame Nadia, box her in, and wield their judgment, they don’t quench her spirit as she forges ahead–imperfectly, messily–to find her way and finally break free of secrets and the sickness they bring. The way The Mothers collectively narrate sections of this story makes clear how the actions of individuals reverberate in a community, for better or worse.


Who am I?

I’ve always loved stories about the anti-heroines–messy, brash women who do things in print that I would never dream of doing in real life. I’ve tried to honor the difficult women in my own books, by showing that a heroine’s flaws do not have to be adorable to carry a narrative. My first career was as a reporter for small-town newspapers, during which time I enjoyed confounding my sources who underestimated a petite, baby-faced young woman. Journalism may have been an awkward fit at times for a person raised to be a nice girl (a literal Girl Scout) but it certainly gave me opportunities to practice being an unapologetic woman!


I wrote...

Vivian In Red

By Kristina Riggle,

Book cover of Vivian In Red

What is my book about?

Vivian is a magnetic woman from the past of Milo Short, a famous Broadway producer who thought he had buried her story and memory. But one day, he has a vision of Vivian–impossibly young and beautiful, when she should have been elderly or dead–and the sight fells him on the spot with an apparent stroke. Robbed of his voice by the stroke, the vision of Vivian haunts him while his granddaughter digs for the truth about what he did, and what she meant to him. Vivian Adair was supposed to be polite and demure, supposed to be just an assistant, supposed to respect cultural divides, yet she refuses to be anyone but purely her mercurial, passionate self.

Roses and Rot

By Kat Howard,

Book cover of Roses and Rot

This book is such a heartfelt tale surroundings two sisters raised by a woman who cared little of their emotional states and only of perfection in the arts. While revolving around the real world, readers are taken to a mystical realm with the protagonists as they discover magic and the fae exist. It’s the struggles we all face in life that this book touches on. As an artist I can understand the need for perfection in my art, like the characters.


Who am I?

I’ve always been in love with books and writing, but in high school I realized I wanted to touch people’s lives on an emotional level. A friend told me my writing had changed their perspective about an incident where their brother almost died. It made me think that if I could positively impact one person with a play, what else could I do (even for complete strangers). We all struggle with emotions, and it’s okay! We should be allowed to feel our emotions—regardless of our age or gender identity. Everyone should know that they’re not alone; emotions are universal. They are part of what connects us to each other. 


I wrote...

Birdwhistle Estate

By Jennifer J. Lacelle,

Book cover of Birdwhistle Estate

What is my book about?

Birdwhistle Estate is a young adult urban fantasy, tragedy, drama, and adventure set in Thunder Bay, Ontario. While the city exists in real life, it’s a whole new world as fiction and reality collide. The story also follows themes of loss, forgiveness, grief, and consequences—something everyone can relate to on some level. It’s a slow-burn kind of story with a rush at the end and perhaps even an ending you didn’t expect given the main character’s personality. 

You Be Mommy

By Karla Clark, Zoe Persico (illustrator),

Book cover of You Be Mommy

What parent hasn’t felt tired at the end of a long day and wished someone else could be in charge? I am a mom of two adorably exhausting children and know I have. In You Be Mommy, the mom turns the parent-child relationship on its head and gives the child a turn at being mommy. The child reads mom a story, checks for monsters under the bed, and gives her a goodnight kiss. This sweet rhyming read-aloud is filled with humor and heart. It celebrates all that a mother does for her child and the love they share.


Who am I?

I'm a picture book author living in Los Angeles with my husband and two children. I love seeing the world through my children’s eyes and began writing stories for and inspired by them after they were born. Watching their relationships flourish with their grandparents and the grown-ups in their lives inspired me to write books that celebrate family and foster connection. My grandmas both live overseas and I treasure the time I spend with them. Just like my own children, the simplest moments together are the ones I hold onto and carry with me the most. I love books that celebrate these magical relationships and hope these books encourage readers to celebrate their own relationships.  


I wrote...

A Grandma's Magic

By Charlotte Offsay, Asa Gilland (illustrator),

Book cover of A Grandma's Magic

What is my book about?

“When a child is born, a grandma is born too. Grandmas aren’t like regular grown-ups. Grandmas are filled with magic.”

In this charming picture book tribute to grandmas, a grandma’s magic bursts through the door as soon as she comes to visit and can be seen in every wonderful thing she does: playing, exploring, baking, gardening, and in all the many ways a grandma and grandchild connect. Filled with adorable scenes featuring a diversity of grandmas and their grandkids, this is a book that families can enjoy together. Grandmas will love snuggling with their grandchildren as they share their love and “magic” through cuddles, kisses, and many repeat readings.

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