Earlier this week, I wrote a guest post for Sarah Miller’s delightful Can we read?newsletter (parents with kiddos between the ages of 0-5, you will definitely want to sign up for her weekly book reviews and quality advice on creating a culture of reading in your home). Some of you may have read it already, but for the rest of you, I wanted to share it here.
For context: I returned to work 12 weeks after both of my kids were born, which means that they have only ever known me as a working mom. Despite this fact, my son went through a prolonged stage during toddlerhood when he would sob every single morning when I left for work. “Don’t leave me, mama”, he would wail. This phase went on for months—like 10—and was absolutely gut-wrenching for me. (And if I’m honest, also a bit irritating, since he never seemed to give my husband a hard time for going to his job 🤨).
In addition to singing “Grown-Ups Come Back” approximately one million times that year (thanks, Daniel Tiger!), I also relied on books to help reassure him that I would return. Since that time, several new books on this topic have come on the market, so I decided to round up several children’s books about working parents—with a particular emphasis on working moms. Some are heartfelt and some are silly. Whatever your preference, I hope you (and your little ones!) enjoy…
In My Heart by Mackenzie Porter
This charming book begins: “Each morning, I hear your feet tiptoeing toward my door. Your little giggles mean I don’t need a clock anymore.” (Amen, sister… it’s been almost 8 years since I set a morning alarm! 😵💫) The mom and toddler-aged daughter go about their morning routine, and as the girl is being strapped into her carseat, she asks her mom what she does all day.
The mom then recounts all of the times she thinks about her daughter during the day. She listens to her daughters favorite songs on her drive to work, sneaks a peak at family pictures during a meeting, and doodles during phone calls—which reminds her of her daughter’s artwork. It ends with a line that will resonate with any working parent: “Though we’re not together, we’re never truly apart because you’re always on my mind and you’re always in my heart.”
Mama’s Work Shoes by Caron Lewis
Perry notices that Mama’s shoes make different noises. Her slippers go swish-swush, her sneakers go zip-zup, and her rain boots go pat-put. But when Perry hears click-clack for the first time, she’s not sure what that means. It turns out, it’s the sound of Mom’s high heels for her new job.
At first, Perry is upset to be left at her babysitter’s house, but she soon settles in and has a fun time. The next day, Perry is anxious for Mom to leave and hides all of her shoes. Mama gives Perry a hug and shows her that although the click-clack means Mom is going it work, it also means she’s coming back home.
Mommy Goes to Work by Jossy Lee
This book goes through a typical day for a mom and son, and points out all of the parallels that exist in their experiences. For example, mom drink coffee while her son drinks milk and mom goes to work while the son goes to school. But unlike most other books about working motherhood, this book also details what mom does at work—she works on projects, she builds her team, and she gives a presentation.
Perhaps most importantly, this book explicitly talks about how mom loves both her work and her time with her son. Similarly, the boy loves his time at school, making friends and building blocks, and is excited to be reunited with him mom at the end of the day. It’s simple and straightforward, with a very positive perspective on working motherhood.
When Daddy Goes to Work by Paul Schofield & Anna Terreros-Martin
Of course, it’s often not just mom who goes to work. I love this book for acknowledging that Daddy also misses his kiddo when he’s at the office. Written from the father’s voice, we hear about how he is counts down the minutes so he can be united with his son. When 5:00 hits, he’s out the door: “Dashing to the nursery, I can’t stop for anyone. Because who will I get to see? My precious little one.”
Throughout the book, we see Dad—and only Dad—taking care of all child-rearing tasks… dropping the boy off at daycare, taking him home at the end of the day, and tucking him into bed at night.
When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli
“When Mama comes home from work, dear child / when Mama comes home tonight, / she’ll cover you with kisses, / she’ll hug you sweet and tight” begins this sweet book. That line could easily serve as a reassuring mantra for any kid having a hard time separating from mom in the morning.
Written in a soothing rhyme, this book recounts all of the sweet things Mama and baby will do when she returns home from work. The rituals that Mama and her baby engage in are universally relatable. Though this book was published in 1998, it has a timeless, old-fashioned (but not outdated) quality to it.
Help Mom Work from Home! by Diana Murray
As we all know by now, working from home is both a blessing and a curse, and this book nails that experience perfectly! This is a silly book about all the funny ways the child “helps” mom as she works from home—adding glitter to her business cards, guiding her through a yoga break, ordering take-out, and turning the family cat into her personal assistant.
Preschool aged kids and parents alike will appreciate the goofy humor. I also gave it bonus points for the background illustrations showing Dad taking care of an infant and coming home after grocery shopping 👍.
Great Job, Mom! by Holman Wang
This isn’t a traditional “mom goes to work” book. Instead, it details all of the other hats Mom wears—think of it as a fun, non-intimidating look at the mental load (who even knew that was possible?? 😅) Mom is a carpenter during the weekdays, but when she’s home with her kids, she’s also a doctor (when they’re sick), a journalist (documenting important events in their life on her phone), and a DJ (playing fun songs before bedtime).
Even more than the words, I really love the art in this book. The author and artist (who is a lawyer by day), makes 1:6 scale figures by needle felting wool, builds scale-model sets, and photographs them. The process is detailed at the end of the book for interested kids—and adults! (PS, there’s also a version for Dad).
Bea and Mr. Jones by Amy Schwartz
Best suited for the 4- to 6-year-old set, this delightful book has Bea and her dad switching places—Mr. Jones goes to kindergarten while Bea catches the train into Manhattan and takes over his advertising job. Mr. Jones excels as the milk and cookie monitor, quickly becoming the teacher’s pet. More impressively, Bea invents a new jingle for an important client and lands a promotion! Published 40 years ago, this book stands the test of time.
A Cup of Ambition is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
This is awesome! Totally going to buy some.
A kids book list about working parents/working moms, I wish I knew about this several years ago, thank you for sharing this list!