Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree—a 1964 story about a tree that gives and gives to a little boy until she's whittled down to a stump—is a beloved classic for many readers. Other readers aren't fans; the book can also be read as a painful metaphor about Mother Nature or parenthood itself, complete with ultimate self-sacrifice and giving of yourself until there's literally nothing left. (For the record, Silverstein claimed his story had no moral at all.)
We'll leave the interpretation to all of you. But this year, on Mother's Day, the Library wants to salute books for kids that address the best things motherhood can stand for: love, generosity, a sense of safety in a tumultuous world... and, yes, giving.
On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier
What is a child's place in the universe? This lyrical picture book addresses the flow of childbirth and how we all fit into the rhythms of nature.
Did I Tell You I Love You Today? by Deloris Jordan; art by Shane W. Evans
I Love You, Too by Ziggy Marley; art by Ag Jatkowska
A readaloud or a sing-aloud! The lyrics to Marley's award-winning song by the same name are presented with fun, cartoony illustrations.
I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; art by Tom Lichtenheld
Small daily moments in a child's day add up to big hopes for their future.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
A sweetly rhyming story about inspiration, potential, and the bright future.
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
“If you become a bird and fly away from me,” said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”
Mama Do You Love Me?by Barbara M. Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
“Mama, do you love me? Yes, I do, dear one. How long? I’ll love you until the umiak flies into the darkness, the stars turn to fish in the sky, and the puffin howls at the moon.”
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
“Make a big splash! Go out on a limb! My love will find you. My love can swim!”
Somedayby Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds
“Someday, you will run so fast and so far, your heart will feel like fire.”
Tell us your favorite kids' books about moms in the comments!
Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.
Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!