When I think of motherhood (now nearly six years in), I’m reminded of all the things I thought motherhood would be and how my views have shifted in the intervening period of before and after. Of course, now I am astounded by every mother of young children; by every mother who has a child with a disability; by mothers who are separated from their children for whatever reason; by mothers navigating teenagers on the cusp of leaving home—each one seems like a pillar of strength and unshakable love.
In truth, mothers are written into our genetic code and impact us for our entire lives. While motherhood may arrive in an assortment of ways, most mothers are united in this single conviction: they want good things for their children. That said, this list touches on pregnancy, toddler hugs, death of a mother, and a compilation of essays about motherhood from women just like you. May you find something on this list that speaks to your mother-heart.
1 | IN MY HEART BY MACKENZIE PORTER
Tiny feet patter down the hall, alarm clocks a thing of the past. A new day, a familiar routine as a mother and child start the day with breakfast and pack their bags for work and daycare. As the mother leaves she reassures her child that although they are physically apart, in their hearts they are always together. Throughout the day mother is reminded of her child and at the close of their day, they are reunited once again. A modern board book that will resonate with many families.
2 | BABY BORN BY ANASTASIA SUEN
A baby is born in winter and by spring is turning its head, soon rolling, and by summer splashing in the kiddie pool. By fall baby teeth start to emerge and at Thanksgiving, the baby has started babbling. Published over 20 years ago, this rhyming board book was given to me at my first baby shower, and numerous readings later I still love this look at a baby’s first year of life.
3 | MAMA’S BELLY BY KATE HOSFORD
Especially appropriate for families expecting a second child, this book introduces a preschool-age girl who wonders what her new baby sister will be like. Lush sunset-like tones and inviting text are certain to calm any new baby nerves. Of all the books on this list, this is the one I’ve gifted the most.
4 | MOM AND ME, ME AND MOM BY MIGUEL TANCO
If the pastel palette isn’t enough to sway you, the interior text—simple but meaningful—reminds readers how everyday moments foster that special and lasting mother-child bond. We also enjoy the father and brother books by the same author/illustrator.
5 | MOM’S SWEATER BY JAYDE PERKIN
After leaving the hospital a girl and her father walk home without the girl’s mother. The next morning the hospital calls to let the family know of the mother’s death. The next few weeks are a blur as people offer condolences through cards and flowers, but none of those actions are able to fill the dark space in the young girls’ heart. With great empathy, we watch as the girl learns to navigate the complexity of grief. When she finds her mother’s sweater (that still smells like her) she takes comfort in that object and her father explains that her mother will be found in various places in the world throughout the girls’ life. A truly impactful and important read.
6 | MOMMY SAYANG BY ROSANA SULLIVAN
In a small village past the rice fields and chickens live Aleeya and her mommy. Five times a day Mommy sayang (dear) prays on her prayer rug. Together Aleeya and her mommy do chores, play, and make spicy dishes. At night the two read together and remind one another that they will always be together. When Mommy gets sick one day, Aleeya has to go throughout her days alone, not even wanting the company of her aunties. Soon Aleeya thinks of a way to spread cheer to her mother and together the two reunite after Mommy returns to good health. An endearing look at the strong bond between a mother and daughter.
7 | ONE MORE HUG BY MEGAN ALEXANDER
This book perfectly epitomizes that sweet phase when little ones continually beg for “just one more hug.” I admit it’s always hard to deny such a request especially when I know how short-lived our time together will be. An especially sweet read for moms going back to work or kids venturing off to preschool.
8 | TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU BY EMILIA BECHRAKIS SERHANT
“I loved you before I met you. I felt you in my arms before I could hold you.” But the way wasn’t easy, the path fraught with difficulties. Navigating rough seas and hot desserts, readers enter a world of shifting landscapes all while a mother pursues the one thing she aches for so desperately. Though the journey was long, the eventual parent-to-child meeting turns every previous heartache into the source of greatest joy. A timely and truly beautiful book.
9 | WHO WILL YOU BE? BY ANDREA PIPPINS
My little child, who will you be when you are grown? So begins this inquisitive tale of a mother asking her young child, the one with kind eyes, what attributes they will develop. Will they have characteristics similar to the family members and friends who surround them? With sparse text and gentle images, this book honors the possibilities that await each beloved child.
10 | NINE MONTHS: BEFORE A BABY IS BORN BY MIRANDA PAUL
Art and nature mingle in this celebration of expanding life, where each month, phase, and trimester of pregnancy is depicted through immersive watercolor spreads. Unlike anything you’ve seen before, this joyous book is worth savoring. And pay particular attention to the negative space.
11 | THIS IS MOTHERHOOD BY JILL KOZIOL AND LIZ TENETY
A collection of essays compiled by the women at Motherly, this book covers everything from firsts to finding your motherhood village, to the mental load of mothering, and watching the transformations of your children. While not all essays will speak to you, this is a book to return to over the years as the candor of each woman feels like having tea with a close confidant. Grab a box of tissue to have on hand while reading this one.
12 | CRESCENDO BY PAOLA QUINTAVILLE
Art and nature mingle in this celebration of expanding life, where each month, phase, and trimester of pregnancy is depicted via a pregnant woman in profile, shown through immersive watercolor spreads. Unlike anything you’ve seen before, this joyous book is worth savoring and paying particular attention to—especially the negative space.