Sometimes a family is two parents and their 2.5 kids, and sometimes it’s a group of super-powered teens and a dinosaur. Not everyone’s relatives look like the Bennet bunch or the Addams clan, so we're bringing a diverse range of family-centric stories to the table. With stories of tight-knit families growing into their shared future, fractured families finding solace in one another, and found families redefining what “home” is, our list has there is something for everyone. Find out which book is your perfect match with the quiz below!
Tar Beach - Faith Ringgold (picture book, preschool)
Ringgold’s picture book is a love letter -- to New York, to family, and to the magic of childhood itself. My mother and I read this story all the time when I was young, and I was just as enchanted reading it for this blog as I was back then. For a fun activity, check out Ringgold as she reads her own work here.
Abuela - Arthur Dorros and Elisa Kleven (picture book, preschool)
I never read any of Elisa Kleven’s books when I was a kid, but when I discovered her illustrations a few years ago, I instantly fell in love. Her brilliant combinations of color and pattern are the perfect pair to Arthur Dorros’ magical story about Rosalba and her beloved Abuela. Follow along as the two take flight and explore the sights and sounds of New York City from the sky -- and don’t miss the chance to practice your Spanish at the same time!
Cloudia & Rex - Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas (comic book, elementary school)
The power of the gods in fun-sized packages! Cloudia & Rex follows siblings Cloudia and Rex as they set off on a road trip with their newly widowed mother. When the gGods bestow their powers upon the sisters, they are flung into a journey of discovery, sacrifice, and reconciliation. Ultimately a story about the power of family and healing, I found myself laughing at their uniquely teenage problems, and tearing up at their ultimate dedication to one another.
Runaways - Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, and Takeshi Miyazawa (comic book, middle school)
When your parents turn out to be super-powered evil masterminds, your friends become your family. From alien powers to a telepathic link with dinosaurs, the group of friends grapples with how to use the powers passed down to them to undo the chaos their parents created. Despite existing in a world of wizards and aliens, the comic is one of the most realistic depictions of found family that I’ve encountered, dysfunctions and all.
Fun Home - Alison Bechdel (graphic novel, high school)
Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home has become a classic -- and rightly so. The autobiographical story tracks Bechdel’s journey coming into her lesbian identity against her father’s downward spiral with his own identity as a gay man. The “tragicomic” broke my heart and put it back together so many times with it’s starkly honest portrayal of internalized homophobia, mental illness, and parent-child relationships. Once you finish the book, you can relive the whole thing with the Original Broadway Cast Recording.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life - Benjamin Alire Sáenz (novel, high school)
Seventeen-year-old Salvador knows who he is -- or at least he thinks he does. But when tragedies strike both his own family and that of his best friend Sam, Sal is sent into an identity-crisis tailspin. Surrounded by a wonderful cast of characters, from his gay adoptive father to his beloved grandmother, Sal grapples with grief, masculinity, and identity before ultimately redefining what it means to be a family. Once I dove into Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s poetic writing, I could hardly put this book down.