The Family Book - Todd Parr.
Everyone is different and so are our families. This is a very simple list book with illustrations in primary colours (the illustrator's style will be familiar to anyone who's seen the author's TV show "Todd's World"). But the most refreshing thing here is that there is no family set-up left unlisted. Single parent families, two Mums, two Dads, adoption and even communal style living are all part of the Family package. I love reading this to children and knowing that they accept it as fact.
Ben and Gran and the Whole Wide Wonderful World - Gillian Shields.
This one may be difficult to source in America, but try your local bookstore, they'll certainly try to find a supplier for you. Ben lives on one side of the world and Gran lives on the other side, although sending messages is fun, it's no substitute for seeing your favourite person. So Gran goes on an epic journey to get to Ben whilst Ben prepares for her arrival. This is a great book to read to a transportation loving toddler, as Gran uses any means necessary, including camel and high speed express train to get to Ben.
Going on a Bear Hunt - Michael Rosen.
Sometimes families go on adventures together and in this popular version of the traditional story it's the Dad who takes the lead. It's illustrated by Helen Oxenbury who apparently enjoyed the subject matter being people and not anthropomorphic animals. There is a real sense of family adventure here and we can all understand why the bear looks so sad and lonely on the last page.
Mama Do You Love Me? - Barbara M Joose.
Toddler's love to push their parents and test the limits of the love. This charming book with an Innuit theme, calmly explains that Mama's love knows no limits, even if you turn into the meanest polar bear there ever was.
Harry the Dirty Dog - Gene Zion.
Back in the 1950s families were made up of one Mom (who cooked), one Dad (who went to work), one little girl (who liked dolls) and one little boy (who liked trains), they usually had a dog. This is nonsense of course, families have never been this way, but the Harry series of books gives us some interesting historical perspectives, not least into the way we used to think about family. Harry runs away from home to avoid taking a bath, but really misses his family and after getting very dirty he returns home to find that no-one recognises him. There's only one thing he can do. And yes, there is a coal chute in this book, you could use it as an opening gambit in a conversation about renewable energy sources!We will be singing, "This Train is Going to Grandma's", "Splash, Splash, Bubble Bubble, Quack Quack" (one of mine...lyrics and music to come soon), and "I'm a Little Airplane" and the poem will be Seeing All My Family by Claire Salama.