The Best Blended-Family Books for Children

There are 29 million stepparents in the United States, myself included. That’s 29 million people who love, nurture, feed, cuddle, play with, worry about and read to their stepkids. Historically, stepparents in children’s literature have been evil villains who, at best, confine their stepchildren to the attic with mice and, at worst, poison them with apples when they’re just trying to make some darn pie. That’s getting better, but there’s still a gap when it comes to good kids’ books with stepparents — or any number of other nontraditional family structures.

Google “blended-family books” and you find excellent, highly rated stories. These books are important because they help little ones understand their unique family dynamic and encourage them to embrace their loving blended family. However, you’ll notice that the stories themselves focus heavily on the nontraditional relationship rather than the story. That isn’t necessarily bad…but it’s not what this stepmom wanted when she was reading to her stepson. 

A mom, a dad, 2.5 kids and a dog

I remember reading Little Critter books to my stepson when he was a tiny tot. They were our favorite! So funny. So original. So sweet. But: So traditional. There’s literally a mom, a dad, 2.5 kids and a dog. It hurt my feelings. And I wondered if it made him sad that his mom and dad weren’t together anymore. I never asked him because I didn’t want to make it a big deal or make him feel worse. 

What I ended up doing in those Little Critter books was using Wite-Out on any reference to “mom” and replacing it with “stepmom.” When he couldn’t read, it was fine; he just looked at the pictures and accepted “stepmom” as part of the story. But when he started following along with the words and saw that I used Wite-Out on “mom”…I really did feel like an evil villain. Especially since his mom is wonderful.

I figured there had to be kids’ books with blended families out there somewhere — books in which the stepmom is supposed to be part of the story. And there were books like that. The problem was that stepmoms weren’t just part of the story. They were the story. 

That’s where Popinjay Press books are a little different.  

Blended-family books (that aren’t about blended families) 

Rather than focus on the blended family, Popinjay Press picture books are simply that — picture books. Customizable to feature stepparents, grandparents, adult siblings and more, our colorful and imaginative tales have the freedom to explore everything from aliens and robots to butterflies and bees. Loving adult characters are present in the books and play an important role in the characters’ lives, but they’re not central to the story. The fact that the characters may have stepparents or same-sex parents or interracial parents (or any combination thereof) is treated as a non-issue instead of the issue. This accomplishes three things: 

  1. Your little one will get the pleasure of simply enjoying a good book that’s engaging, silly and fun.
  2. Your child will be exposed to the loving dynamic of a blended family without calling unnecessary attention to it.  
  3. Your tiny tot will see themselves or others they know represented positively in children’s literature. 

In short, when I started Popinjay Press, I wanted to create books that I would want to read to my kids — just plain fun books with charming stories and colorful pictures. And if the family dynamics within the books could be customized to represent ours — even better. In fact, I wanted to do that for every single kid everywhere. That’s why our books can be customized to represent virtually every family dynamic in existence. From stepparents and grandparents to LGBTQ+ families and interracial families — you can customize Popinjay Press books any way you want! Start your story now.