Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

National Child Centered Divorce Awareness Month

In January, we observe National Child Centered Divorce Awareness Month.  This is a good chance to make sure our collections include books on divorce and all types of families, including single-parent families.  National Child Centered Divorce Awareness Month is also the perfect opportunity to examine the language we use in programs and promotional materials to ensure inclusivity.

Many libraries host events such as “Donuts with Dad” or “Muffins with Mom,” particularly around the time of Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.  Despite the catchy alliteration these titles offer, they’re lacking in the inclusion department.  Try one of these event titles in order to welcome as many patrons as possible:

Tea for Two

Breakfast with a V.I.G.U. (Very Important Grown-Up)

Special Persons’ Day

Together Time: Build a Paper Airplane

Sweethearts’ Valentine Party

Not only do these titles leave the gender of adult participants unspecified, they also leave relationships undefined.  This means that a child could attend one of these events with a babysitter, a neighbor, a grandparent, a family friend, or any other special grown-up.

If you’re looking to increase the number of books about divorce or featuring single-parent families in your collection, consider purchasing the following:

Dinosaurs Divorce by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

A Smart Girls’ Guide to Her Parents’ Divorce by Nancy Holyoke

Two Homes by Claire Masurel

The Family Book by Todd Parr

It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear by Vicki Lansky

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss

Amanda Moss Struckmeyer is the Head of Youth Services at the Middleton Public Library in Middleton, Wisconsin.  Amanda serves on the Library Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers committee.


  1. Emily Lloyd

    Hear, hear. So many kids are raised in non-mommyplusdaddy circumstances–by grandparents, in GLBTQ families, in foster homes, by single parents–that it just seems likely to be irrelevant (and potentially hurtful) to many to do dad and mom events. I’d like to also recommend Melanie Walsh’s 2012 PB “Living with Mom and Living with Dad” as a great book for little ones with “a dad home” and “a mom home.” My Goodreads review of it: “This is the nicest book about divorce and living sometimes with one parent, sometimes with another I’ve seen–brightly-colored, simple illustrations with fun lift-the-flaps that “convert” mom’s house to dad’s apartment building, the panda nightlight at mom’s to the butterfly light string at dad’s, etc. Beautifully done, it never feels creepy or dreary like some children’s books about tough subjects. It acknowledges the changes (in addition to living arrangements) in the child’s life (“On my birthday, my mom made me a cake…and my dad took me bowling. My mom always used to pick me up from school…now my mom and dad take turns”). The child is shown in the empowered position of knowing what to do when she misses the parent she isn’t currently with (phone call). The book is so attractive that kids who aren’t experiencing a similar situation will be drawn to it, too. This will be my go-to recommendation for parents looking for books about the life changes that come with divorce to read to young children. Will work for preschoolers up to age 8 or so.”

  2. Julie

    I don’t see how the title Doughnuts with Dad or Muffins with Mom precludes single mothers and fathers or gay mothers and father from attending a program with their child(ren). I myself am a child of divorce and I still had both a mother and a father. I believe Doughnuts with Dad and Muffins with Mom (or Goodies with Grandparents) programs can be promoted to be inclusive–mine always mentioned Doughnuts with Dad….or Grandpa…or Uncle, et cetera, which allowed for many options, and we always mentioned that /everyone/ was welcome. My programs were also open to all ages, and once or twice adult parent and child pairs would attend. The literature displayed was also inclusive to many configurations and experiences.

    Lots of kids would love a special time to just be with dad or mom, or grandma or grandpa, perhaps even more so if their parents are divorced. And since these programs are voluntary rather than mandatory, if parents don’t feel a program meets their needs, they won’t attend.

    Further, what are you saying about children whose experience is one of two heterosexual parents? Is their family no longer valid? I’m all for expanding the definition of family, but I don’t see how ignoring kids with two opposite sex parents does that.

  3. Emily Lloyd

    What I don’t quite understand is, if a child is welcome to bring any adult, what’s the inherent value in using “Dad” or “Mom” in the program title? Not using “Dad” or “Mom” doesn’t ignore kids with two opposite sex parents–it just doesn’t *privilege* kids with two opposite sex parents. And a kid, for ex, with two moms, would probably not feel comfortable bringing one of the moms to a “Doughnuts with Dad” program (that’s how such a program doesn’t include a child in that situation–though that child could bring Mom or Moms to the Mom program). Why not “Grown-Up Fun with Grown-Up Friends” or something like that–where kids could do “grown-up” things like dressing up, pouring tea, what have you, and it could be specified that the friend could be a parent, caregiver, etc?

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