10 Picture Books about Family That Should Be in Every Quaker Meeting’s Library

These picture books have all been reviewed by Friends Journal, and they are ones I believe belong in every meetinghouse library. If you’re looking to prioritize which titles to acquire, I would suggest beginning with the books that deal with death as that is a situation that will certainly happen at some point, so it’d be helpful to have them on hand as soon as possible. After that, my next recommendation would be to purchase some of the older titles before finding them becomes difficult or impossible.

Grandparents

Ten Beautiful Things
by Molly Beth Griffin, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga

“In Ten Beautiful Things, Gram encourages Lily to be attentive to the world around them during their car journey,” Lisa Rand writes. “On the opening page of the story, readers can readily observe Lily’s sad expression. Through this shared mindfulness practice, Gram supports Lily during a time of uncertainty.”

The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup
by Hunter Liguore, illustrated by Vikki Zhang

“The reader learns that meal preparation is about more than just the food,” says Eileen Redden. “It’s the time spent together, the recipe and pot passed down through the generations, and the honoring of family and community. We learn how interconnected the world is, as the meal is only possible because of the gardeners, the farm workers, the transportation network, the merchants, the seeds, the bees, the sun, the moon and the stars, the soil, the rain, and love.”

Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music
by Michael Genhart, illustrated by Priscilla Burris

“The more we learn of our family histories, through genealogy, and now through genetics and the very DNA we carry, the more we discover what a rich mix we are,” Ken Jacobsen observes. “Michael Genhart and Priscilla Burris present a beautiful image of an ethnically interwoven family, and how children can open the door to this interweaving process, in this case through the healing language of music.”

Younger family members

Daniel’s Good Day
by Micha Archer

“Daniel, a very young boy, is on a mission,” Margaret T. Walden reports. “He wants to know why everyone always says, ‘Have a good day.’ In this charming picture book, he finds many answers.… Daniel’s Good Day is a simple story for young children with messages of safety and affirmation at its heart.”

Loretta’s Gift
by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Alea Marley

Loretta’s Gift is a beautiful story about a young girl who wants to find the perfect gift for her new cousin,” says Anne Nydam. “The sweet pictures complement the simple text, with earthy, muted colors and an emphasis on Loretta’s varied expressions.”

Death and grief

The Goodbye Book
by Todd Parr

“Using a primary-colored fish, Todd Parr dives deep into the world of emotions,” says Emilie Gay. “This dynamic picture book explores loss and loneliness in terms that a very young child can relate to while getting to the heart of what we all experience when a loved one has gone away.”

Saturdays Are for Stella
by Candy Wellins, illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan

“The story opens with smiling Stella and George baking cinnamon rolls together,” Lisa Rand writes. “One day, he sees his parents crying. ‘And Mom explained why George couldn’t see Stella today or any other Saturday.’ … The honest yet gentle depiction of loss and grief will be invaluable to families trying to help a child cope with a similar experience.”

Watercress
by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Watercress is the story of a Chinese American child growing up in rural Ohio. “The last thing she wants is to be seen scrounging food from a muddy ditch,” Alison James explains, and the story “leans into the discomfort, not protecting the reader from the shame and humiliation of scavenging for something to eat.” But then, Alison continues, Watercress “goes far beyond where most picture books dare to go.”

Consideration for others

A Map into the World
by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Seo Kim

“Kao Kalia Yang has written a tender, quiet book that Quaker families will appreciate for its multifaceted lessons in mindful, hopeful living,” Lisa Rand enthuses. “Throughout the story there is an awareness of the cycles of seasons and of lives, in the yard and in the home. While new babies arrive in the family, news of the death of an elderly neighbor is gently introduced. … It is rare to see grief handled so delicately, and families will find this story a useful support.”

A Bike Like Sergio’s
by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

“This is that rare story—a moral tale that’s subtle and suspenseful,” says Dee Birch Cameron. “On an errand to buy some groceries for his mother, Ruben sees a one-dollar bill fall from the purse of a shopper whose face and blue coat are familiar from previous trips. He picks the money up and takes it home, where he discovers it’s really a one hundred-dollar bill. It’s a winding road to the point at which he does the right thing, and his reactions along the way are authentic and interesting.”

Eileen Redden

Eileen Redden is the young Friends book review editor for Friends Journal. She worships with the Lewes Worship Group in Lewes, Del.

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