Global picture books about mothers

Global Maternal Tales: Picture Books About Mother from Around the World

These picture books about mothers are more than just stories; they celebrate the unconditional love, diverse experiences, and myriad roles that mothers play in our lives. These picture books cover everything from single mothers to those who wear different cultural clothes to those who struggle economically or get frustrated with their children. They help nurture empathy, understanding, and respect for various family dynamics.

A family cherishing memories in a photo album.

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Learning Through Stories: Cultural Insights from Picture Books About Mothers

Picture books about mothers, mums, mommies, step-mums, mammas, majis, okaasans, muters, etc., represent various cultures and backgrounds. They will inspire discussion and reflection in your classroom on different types of families.

 Reading picture books about mothers in the classroom is a great idea for several reasons:

  • Emotional Connection: Picture books about mothers often explore the nurturing and loving bond between a child and a mother. This can help children feel more secure and understood in their relationships.
  • Diverse Family Structures: Such books can also introduce children to different types of family structures, showing that the concept of ‘mother’ can vary widely.
  • Social and Emotional Learning: These books often touch on love, sacrifice, and care themes. They help children develop empathy and understanding of others’ feelings.
  • Cultural Awareness: Books about mothers from different cultures can broaden a child’s understanding of the world, teaching them about diversity and acceptance.

Using picture books about mothers in the classroom offers a holistic approach to learning, addressing academic skills and emotional and social development.

Mother and Daughter Reading Books in a Tent

Reflections on Maternal Love: Engaging Questions for Classroom Discussion

These questions aim to deepen students’ understanding and appreciation of the book’s content while connecting it to their lives and experiences. 

  • In what ways does the mother in this story show her love and care?
  • Can you identify any emotions the characters are feeling? What makes you think that?
  • How do the illustrations help tell the story of the mother and child?
  • If you could ask the mother in the story one question, what would it be and why?
  • How do you think the child feels about their mother? Can you find parts of the text or pictures that show this?
  • How might this story differ if it was set in another country or culture?
  • What can we learn from mothers in other cultures?
  • What sacrifices do mothers make for their children?
  • What challenges do mothers face while raising children?
  • How can we help our mothers when they are feeling overwhelmed?


A woman and her children are sitting on the couch reading a book about mothers.

The Many Faces of Motherhood: Must-Read Picture Books About Mothers

Again! by Emily Gravett

A dragon wants his bedtime story again and again. When his mother falls asleep during the fourth reading, the dragon cannot control his emotions and burns a hole through the back of the book! 

Again! promotes discussions on understanding and managing frustration, developing patience, and a love for reading.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Amazing Grace is about a book-loving young girl who dreams big and defies gender roles. Despite being told she can’t play Peter Pan in the school play because she’s a girl, Grace, backed by her mama and Nana’s unwavering support, auditions and wins the role, breaking stereotypes.

The story of Grace encourages discussions on self-esteem, adaptability, determination, fairness, gender roles, and the significance of making personal connections.

The Big Big Sea by Martin Waddell

A girl narrates her experiences of wading in the sea with her mother on a moonlit night and the comfort she gets from her mother’s presence.

The Big Big Sea sparks conversations about the power of shared experiences, creating memories, the beauty of nature, the bond between parent and child, and the comforting presence of loved ones. 

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams

A Chair for My Mother illuminates the power of love, family, and community even in the most challenging times. Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother lose their home to a devastating fire.

The book gives us a glimpse into poverty, the importance of saving money, the impact of community kindness and generosity, and the power of perseverance, even in the face of adversity.

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse

Tess looks up, pleading to the sky for rain. The city has an endless heatwave with sticky sidewalks, plants dying, and cats panting. As the grey clouds roll in, Tess joins her best friend in their bathing suits to dance in the refreshing rain.

Come On, Rain! promotes discussions on the anticipation and joy of simple natural events, the beauty and power of nature, and the sense of community that shared experiences can foster.

Deep In The Sahara by Kelly Cunnane

In Mauritania, Lalla is eager to wear a malafa like her mother and older sister. She admires the colourful fabric and believes that wearing it would make her feel grown-up. Lalla’s mother explains that wearing a malafa is not just about looking beautiful; it symbolises faith and respect for their traditions.

Deep in The Sahara encourages discussions about respect for different cultures and religions, self-awareness, and understanding one’s identity and Islamic culture.

Don't Forget by Patricia Lakin

Sarah is planning to bake a surprise birthday cake for her mother in a postwar Jewish neighbourhood. Initially apprehensive about visiting the Singers’ shop because of their Nazi concentration camp experience, she learns important life-affirming messages.

Don’t Forget promotes discussions on overcoming fear, community, empathy, the effects of war, prejudice and the power of learning from others’ experiences.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Dreamers mirrors the author’s experience of migrating from Mexico to America with her young son. Amidst the challenges of adapting to a new culture, language, and customs, Morales finds solace, knowledge, and inspiration in her local library, ultimately leading her to a new career. 

Dreamers promotes determination, resilience, courage, and hope, cultivating empathy and an appreciation for diverse experiences.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corner by Joanna Ho

An Asian girl takes pride in her distinct physical trait – eyes that kiss in the corners, like her mother, grandmother, and little sister. Read ‘Eyes That Kiss in the Corner’ to foster discussions on self-affirmation and self-love, personal identity, empowerment, self-esteem, and making connections within and across cultures. 

Eyes That Kiss in the Corner encourages self-appreciation and the importance of embracing one’s identity.

Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! by Mem Fox

This is the first of two books about mothers by Mem Fox. Harriet often finds herself in mischief and testing her mother’s patience. One day, her actions led her usually calm mother to lose her temper. Both realise that even when they do things they wish they hadn’t, their love for each other remains strong.

Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! promotes discussions on patience, understanding, the dynamics of a mother-child relationship, and unconditional love.

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood

A wicked witch, Heckedy Peg, transforms seven children into food items and spirits them away to her cave. But their mother’s quick thinking and cunning outwits the witch, leading to a triumphant reunion with her children.

Heckedy Peg provides a platform for discussions on the consequences of disobedience, the power of creative thinking, and the art of prediction.

Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho

In rural Thailand, a mother pleads with the surrounding animals not to wake her sleeping baby. However, the baby has been awake all along, watching everything with silent amusement.

Hush! A Thai Lullaby promotes discussions on maternal love, understanding animal behaviour, and observation.

It's a No-Money Day by Kate Milner

Despite working hard, a mother struggles to make ends meet. On a day when there’s no money left and no food in the house, they visit a food bank. While the mother finds the experience humiliating, the little girl appreciates the kindness of those working there.

It’s a No-Money Day promotes discussions on understanding and empathising with poverty, resilience in the face of adversity, and community support in difficult times.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

A mother escapes a war with her two children. Her courage and desperation show the dire circumstances that push people to leave everything behind and embark on dangerous journeys towards an uncertain future.

The Journey fosters empathy and understanding of the realities of displacement and migration and the unwavering hope that fuels such journeys.

Koala Lou by Mem Fox

This is the second of two books about mothers by Mem Fox. Koala Lou worries when her busy mother forgets to tell her how much she loves her. She sets out to win the Bush Olympics to win back her mother’s love. Despite her best efforts, she doesn’t win, but she learns that her mother’s love for her is unconditional.

Koala Lou encourages discussions on family love, self-worth, determination, and coping with jealousy or neglect.

Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer

Mari prepares for the Women’s March in New York City with her mother. As she makes her sign, she asks whether the world will hear their message. Her mama responds, “They’ll hear because love is powerful.”

Love Is Powerful encourages discussions on activism, peaceful protests, empowerment, using one’s voice, and standing up for what you believe.

The Magic Doll: A Children's Book Inspired by African Art by Adrienne Yabouza

A young girl in a West African village explains the importance of fertility statues, particularly the Akua-Ba fertility figures of the Akan people of Ghana.

The Magic Doll explores the importance of cultural traditions, motherly love, and the significance of African art and culture, and it teaches readers about the role of fertility statues in African cultures.

Mama's Saris by Pooja Makhijan

A young girl yearns to wear one of her mother’s saris. Recognising her daughter’s longing, the mother lovingly drapes her in a beautiful blue sari, filling the young girl with joy and a sense of maturity.

Mama’s Saris opens classroom discussions about cultural traditions, the influence of parental figures, the desire for growth, and the joy of shared experiences.

Mama's Sleeping Scarf by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chino treasures her mother’s silky sleeping scarf, finding solace and inspiration while her mom is at work. She plays with the scarf, feeling closer to her mum through this simple and meaningful object.

Mama’s Sleeping Scarf sparks conversations about family love, making memories, comfort, and how ordinary items can provide a sense of security.

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña

On a train ride, Milo observes and sketches fellow passengers, wondering about their lives, and creating detailed stories for each one. Milo’s destination is a prison, where his mother is confined. He imagines and draws his family united outside prison.

Milo Imagines the World fosters dialogue on empathy, understanding, and the importance of not making presumptions based on looks or a single narrative. It addresses themes like bias, judgment, and curiosity.

Missing Mummy by Rebecca Cobb

A boy has lost his mother. Not fully understanding the concept of death, he experiences a range of emotions from confusion and guilt to anger and sadness as he tries to comprehend where his mummy has gone and why she isn’t coming back.

Missing Mummy promotes discussions on grief, loss, understanding death, expressing emotions, and coping with change.

Mommy Sayang by Rosana Sullivan

Set in Malaysia, Aleeya and her mother spend quality time together, doing everything from cooking and praying to admiring the vibrant flowers in their garden. When Aleeya’s mother falls ill, disrupting their routine. Aleeya comforts her by bringing a hibiscus flower to her mother’s bedside, symbolising their love. Mommy Sayang delves into familial love, empathy, and the power of small acts of kindness

Mommy's Hometown by Hope Lim

A boy loves hearing his mother’s stories about her childhood hometown. When they visit her hometown, it has transformed into a bustling city, quite different from his imagination. However, when they visit the river where his mother used to play, he discovers that the spirit of those days is still present.

Mummy’s Hometown promotes discussions on change, memories, family bonds, and the essence of home.

Mommy's Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

This is the first of two picture books about mothers by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow. When a young girl wraps herself in her mother’s khimar, she feels her mother’s warmth, love, and comfort surrounding her.

Mommy’s Khimar provides a platform for discussions about respect for other cultures and religions and appreciates the cultural and religious significance of the khimar. The book is a window into the everyday lives of a practising Muslim family.