A client recently asked me to recommend books she could read with her little one about going back to work. But I could only think of one book. I can recommend lots of books for helping children cope with change in general, and lots of books about issues in children’s lives (like starting school and making friends) but I couldn’t think of any storybooks for children about working mums. So I decided to do some research.
It didn’t take long to work out that a) there are not many books out there on this topic and b) that’s probably because it’s a complete minefield. After all, merely the act of writing a storybook about mums going to work presupposes that this is unusual or problematic, that it will cause issues for children that need to be dealt with. There are no books about dads going to work so why should there be storybooks for children about working mums? Mums work, end of story.
Indeed, the one book that does jump out on this topic (My Working Mom by Peter Glassman)has been widely vilified as insulting and offensive. The working mum character in this book is a witch who is either never there or turns up late and generally fails in all her child’s wishes and expectations (though the moral of the story is that her daughter loves her anyway). Do check out the reviews on Amazon if you fancy a bile fest!
But, having said that, the fact that a client had asked me to recommend something suggests that there is a need for storybooks that will prompt conversations with young children about the world of work and why adults go to work. Children are often baffled about what we do all day! And when things aren’t going well, due to separation anxiety or childcare issues for example, it’s easy to turn on the guilt and get trapped into emotional messages. Having a storybook to frame some blame-free conversations might really help sometimes.
There isn’t much out there. I have tried to weed out the worst offenders. Most of the books I found were American. But if you can get over the cultural alienation of reading “Mommy” rather than “Mummy” then you just might find one of these storybooks for children about working mums useful. Do let me know your feedback!
This little book by the prolific children’s author Kes Gray is not so much a storybook as a collection of reassuring statements that you can weave as you wish. A sweet and simple book, ideal for toddlers and for prompting cuddly conversations. It doesn’t take a ‘line’ on working mums just aims to reassure little ones that mum loves you even when she isn’t there. Confusingly, this is also available in older editions as My Mum Goes to Work!
I love you all day long by Francesca Rusackas is a great choice if separation or going off to Nursery is the tricky issue. The simple message is that mum loves you all day no matter where you are or what you are doing. Similar alternatives, on the same theme, would be No Matter What (by Debi Gliori) or The Invisible String (by Patricia Karst).
Mum Goes to Work by Libby Gleeson has quite a contemporary feel. It’s not about animals or teddies, it’s about real children and real mums in a modern society setting. It asks the question, “What does mum do at work all day?” and compares mum’s day to a pre-schooler’s day. The examples probably won’t be close to your actual working life, but they might prompt some interesting discussions.
I have slightly mixed feelings about Oscar the Pig: Mommy Goes to Work by Megan Calhoun. It uses distraction strategies to address worries about separation by imagining lots of amazing adventures for Oscar while ‘Mommy’ is at work. It might work really well for some children. But children who are very worried are unlikely to respond to distraction strategies. It’s a sweet book from a limited set of choices so it might be worth checking out.
Whether you like Mommy, Why Do You Go to Work? by Morgan C. Starr might depend on whether your reasons for working are the same as Mommy Dog’s! But, I guess, even if not, this book might prompt a good conversation? Personally, I find dogs dressed in twinset and pearls a bit creepy but the actual text in this book uses proper vocabulary and isn’t patronising, which I like.
Searching for storybooks for children about working mums, there was one other book I came across online that might be helpful for some – My Mommy’s on a Business Trip by Phaedra Cucina. But I haven’t managed to get hold of a copy so I can’t make any assessment of it. If you’ve read it, like it or loathe it, please do comment below!
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This is not a sponsored post, these are my own recommendations. However, this post does contain affiliate links – which means that if you click through and purchase, I will receive a small fee. See Disclosure Notice for more details.
©Anita Cleare 2018