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Written by Kelly Sheehy, Content Specialist, Main Library in partnership with the Materials Selection & Acquisition Department

With Mother’s Day just around the corner (May 12), we’ve rounded up some of our favorite titles from the stacks that explore and celebrate motherhood in its vast and varying forms. Motherhood looks different to different people. Sometimes mothers have children; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they identify as female; sometimes they identify as male or nonbinary. There are adoptive mothers, stepmothers, godmothers, foster mothers, mothers who have lost children, children who have lost mothers, grandmothers, aunties, caregivers, surrogates, and more. On Mother’s Day, we honor and celebrate them all. These 15 books are available in print, eBook, and audiobook formats. 

Fiction and Nonfiction

On mothers who get it...

Dear Mother: Poems on the Hot Mess of Motherhood by Bunmi Laditan
With the compassion and wit that made her a social media sensation among mothers around the world, Bunmi Laditan puts into relatable words what so many of us feel but can't quite express. For mothers who love their children with a fiery fierceness but know what it is to feel crushed at the end of those long days, Dear Mother is like a warm hug that says, "I get it."

On mothers who redefine...

Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
A father for six years, a mother for 10, and for a time in between, neither, or both, Jennifer Finney Boylan has seen parenthood from both sides of the gender divide. In this thoughtful, tear-jerking, hilarious memoir, Boylan asks what it means to be a father or a mother, and to what extent gender shades our experiences as parents. 

On mothers who are absent yet present...

Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert 
This novel tells the story of Ruth, the daughter that Rachel Kalama―quarantined for most of her life at the isolated leprosy settlement of Kalaupapa―was forced to give up at birth. The book follows Ruth from her arrival at the Kapi'olani Home for Girls in Honolulu, to her adoption by a Japanese couple in California, her marriage and unjust internment at Manzanar Relocation Camp during World War II―and then, after the war, to the life-altering day when she receives a letter from a woman who says she is Ruth’s birth mother, Rachel.

On mothers who adapt...

The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation
by Jodi Patterson
As an African-American growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1970s, Jodie Patterson learned early on to engage with her community for strength and comfort. But then in 2009 this mother of five had her world turned upside down, realizing that her definition of community wasn’t wide enough for her own child’s needs. In Patterson’s memoir, we witness a mother reshaping her beliefs, as well as those of her community, to meet the needs of her transgender son, Penelope— and opening the minds of everyone in her family who unequivocally refused to conform.

On mothers who are naïve... 

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam
Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca finds herself both in love with her son and overwhelmed. She reaches out to the only person at the hospital who offers her any help—Priscilla—and begs her to be her son’s nanny. Rebecca is white, and Priscilla is Black, and through their relationship, Rebecca finds herself confronting the blind spots of her own privilege. When Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca adopts the baby. But she is unprepared for what it means to be a white mother with a Black son. As she soon learns, navigating motherhood for her is a matter of learning how to raise two children whom she loves equally, but the world treats differently.

Young  Adult 

On mothers who are complicated... 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga's role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

On mothers who are kidnapped by magical beings...


The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert 
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set.

On mothers who rebel...

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Vivian Carter is fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv is fed up with always following the rules. Her mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

On mothers who persist... 

Here to Stay by Sara Farizan 
When a cyberbully sends the entire school a picture of Bijan Majidi edited to look like a terrorist, his mother is horrified, and the school administration is outraged. They promise to find and punish the culprit. All Bijan wants is to pretend it never happened and move on, but the incident isn’t so easily erased. Though many of his classmates rally behind Bijan, some don’t want him or his type to be a part of their school. This novel is a painfully honest, funny, authentic story about growing up, speaking out, and fighting prejudice.

On mothers who have high expectations... 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 
With Dimple Shah’s graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family; from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? When Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel meet at a Stanford University, Dimple is avoiding her parents' obsession with "marriage prospects" but Rishi hopes to woo her into an arranged marriage with him.

Children

On mothers who inspire... 

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim-American girl’s life. Because with her mother’s headscarf, she not only feels closer to her mother, she also imagines herself as a queen, the sun, a superhero, and more.

On mothers who dream... 

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales 
When Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico, and came to the U.S. with her infant son, she brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes, and dreams. . . and her stories. Dreamers is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly's passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: The public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land and learned to make their home within it.

On mothers who break the mold...

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer
Stella's class is having a Mother's Day celebration, but what's a girl with two daddies to do? It's not that she doesn't have someone who helps her with her homework, or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy who take care of her, and a whole gaggle of other loved ones who make her feel supported every day. She just doesn't have a mom to invite to the party. Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in this sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.

On mothers who nurture...

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
In this charming story about celebrating differences, a Chinese-American girl wishes for a garden of bright flowers instead of one full of bumpy, ugly, vegetables. Her mother assures her that "these are better than flowers." Come harvest time, everyone agrees as those ugly Chinese vegetables become the tastiest, most aromatic soup they have ever known. This delightful story comes complete with a guide to the Chinese pronunciation of the vegetables and the recipe for ugly vegetable soup. 

On mothers who sustain...

Wild Berries by Julie Flett 
Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother. Meet ant, spider, and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape, the ancestral home of author and illustrator Julie Flett. This book is written in both English and Cree, in particular, the "n-dialect," also known as Swampy Cree. The Metis and Cree are indigenous peoples based across Canada and North America with a rich history and culture. Exploring the important tradition of berry-picking for Metis and Cree people, this book also honors an endangered language.

Official book summaries courtesy of the Library catalog and publishers.

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