Being a mum sometimes feels like working for the most ungrateful boss with never-ending demands, no holidays and terrible pay.
While we adore our children, some days the word “Mum” could be interchanged for “Servant” (or “Mug”), especially since the pandemic hit and disproportionately impacted on our mental and physical demands in the home.
We all know what we do is amazing and that deep down, our children do appreciate us, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them from time to time, does it?
Here are some stories about the brilliance of mums so your offspring can celebrate your worth, not just on Mother’s Day but on every day.
1. My Mum is Fantastic by Nick Butterworth. £6.99 (paperback), Walker
From fixing vacuum cleaners and knitting spacesuits to do wheelies on bikes and telling the best stories, there are many reasons why mums are fantastic.
And this classic Nick Butterworth book lists just a few of the many reasons, with energetic and amusing illustrations.
We love the cool trainer-wearing mother in this story, who cares less about how she looks and more about how much fun she is having with her kids. It’s offbeat, uplifting and very true to life. Buy from Amazon
2. The Strongest Mum by Nicola Kent. £6.99 (paperback), Macmillan
Mums know it can be exhausting carry the load alone – mentally as well as physically – and this beautiful story does a sensitive job of explaining why some days they need a little TLC.
Yes, Mummy Bear can carry your acorns in her oversized handbag (I love the illustration peering inside it) and your bike when your legs are tired. She’ll pick up Zebra’s shopping and Flamingo’s piano too.
But eventually the whole juggle will involve one too many balls, the whole thing will topple and she needs her loved ones to help her get things straight again.
Nicola Kent’s artwork is a joy and the text is so knowing, I find it especially poignant after the year we’ve just had. Buy from Amazon
3. When Mummy Goes To Work by Paul Schofield and Anna Terreros-Martin. £6.99 (paperback), Templar
Out of sight does not mean out of mind in this touching tribute to working mums and the sacrifices they make for their child.
The story sees a paramedic – who is possibly a single mum – dropping her child off with grandparents while she heads to her shift saving lives and tending to the sick.
The text reminds the reader that they are very much in Mummy’s mind during the busy day, while the gorgeous images see the child’s playtime reflecting the tasks the parent in their job. Buy from Amazon
4. Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy. £7.99 (paperback), Walker
This real and humorous account of the trials of motherhood by the wonderful Jill Murphy is a modern classic – and will resonate even more with kids and parents alike in light of the last year of lockdown.
Mrs Large loves her three children but the poor woman just wants a bit of space. Even the chance to go for a bath with a cup of tea and no one reading books to her, playing a bloody recorder or throwing toys in the water might be nice.
What ensues is a wonderfully well-observed exchange between mother and offspring that is just so true to life and honest, yet completely delightful at the same time. Although if it was my house, that tea would be replaced by a very large G&T. Buy from Amazon
5. Mother’s Day by Shirley Hughes. £6.99 (hardback), Walker
The legendary Shirley Hughes is one of the great observers of children and their families, as her much-loved Alfie stories and award-winning Dogger testify. And she puts the same realistic but tender touch to this simple book about all the things a little girl loves about spending time with her mum.
While the images show the parent hunting for her keys, trying to cook with a toddler hanging off her leg and half-heartedly playing hide-and-seek by covering her face with a book, her daughter’s adoration and appreciation for her care shines through in the words.
Shirley’s signature detailed illustrations are charming too, with an Eighties feel that doesn’t seem too dated and makes me nostalgic for my own childhood. Buy from Amazon
6. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson. £5.99 (board book), Walker
If you have a child who suffers with separation anxiety or has a tendency to worry, this classic bedtime book about three fearful owls is the ideal way to alleviate it.
When Sarah, Percy and Bill wake up to find their Owl Mother gone, the trio are anxious for her to return. They ponder over where she might be and fret amongst themselves until a happy reunion ensues.
With its reassuring message and the strikingly lifelike illustrations, no wonder this story has sold four and a half million copies since it was published. Buy from Amazon
7. How To Spot A Mum by Donna Amey Bhatt and Aura Lewis. £9.99 (hardback), Wide Eyed
This witty but tender ‘spotter’s guide’ to mums is perfect for slightly older kids, and a great way to open up discussions about how much mums do if you are feeling under appreciated.
It covers all the basics of the mum species – from their different names around the world to the many ways to be one – along with a breakdown of the special likes, dislikes and natural habitats of different ‘types’ (like Chatty, Sporty and Zen).
The artwork is very stylish and the cast of mums incredibly diverse, to reflect the broad tribe these incredible women are. Buy from Amazon
8. What’s In Your Tummy, Mummy? by Sam Lloyd. £6.99 (paperback), Pavilion
The idea of a new baby growing inside Mummy’s tummy is transformed from a hard-to-grasp concept to a warm and witty rhyme by author-illustrator Sam Lloyd. As her bump gets bigger from page to page, the little boy ponders what could be inside. Is it a flea, a chimpanzee or even a dinosaur?
Your child will love lifting the flaps to see the comical guesses hidden under Mummy’s dress, culminating in a celebratory pop-up reveal of the new arrival. It’s celebratory and joyful – exactly how the birth of a sibling should be. Buy from Amazon
9. Roald Dahl: My Mum Is Magnificent. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. £6.99 (board book), Puffin
This board books takes the spirit of Dahl’s work and way with words, paring it with some of Blake’s illustrations for a phizz-whizzing celebration of all mothers do.
After all, mums aren’t just kind, bold and brave – they gloriumptious, ferocious and very good at chasing away rotsome beasts!
A great choice for anyone who loves Dahl or dislikes stories that are too saccharine, plus the artwork includes images of Miss Honey and Matilda – the ultimate adoptive mum – as well as the boy and his grandmother from The Witches. Buy from Amazon
10. My Mum Is A Supermum by Angela McAllister and Alex T. Smith. £6.99 (paperback), Scholastic
How does Milo’s mum always seem to know when he is doing something he shouldn’t? She looks ordinary but perhaps she is hiding a secret superhero identity…
There’s a wry humour to this story about a boy testing out his theory that his mum has superpowers and X-ray vision, with a clever twist that takes the reader by surprise.
And your child will certainly never look at you in the same way again after enjoying this book at bedtime! Buy from Amazon
11. Me and You: A Book of Opposites by Alice Melvin. £6.99 (board book), Tate
This beautiful first concepts book is one that even the youngest of readers will adore flicking through. Both of my boys absolutely love the full series, which follow the lives of a toddler and his family.
In this opposites themed one, we follow the little boy and his mum through their day together, from walking to the park in the rain and playing on the slide to eating a messy tea and bedtime. My favourite spread is when the child dresses as a doctor while mummy lies on the sofa being patient. Don’t tell me you haven’t tried this trick!
The papercut illustrations by award-winning designer Alice Melvin are incredible to look at and make the characters really jump off the page. But what’s just lovely is gentle normality of the images, to which we can all relate. Buy from Amazon
12. My Mummy by Roger Hargreaves. £6.99 (paperback), Egmont
Mums are so many wonderful things and this novelty book takes the characteristics of the cast of Little Misses to show just how brilliant they truly are.
They cheer a cloudy day like Little Miss Sunshine, entertain you like Little Miss Fun and give good advice like Little Miss Wise.
Like all of the Little Miss books, there is plenty of cheeky humour and there’s also a sweet section at the back so your child can add their observations of their own Mummy along with a drawing. Buy from Amazon
13. Eyes That Kiss In The Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho. £12.99 (hardback), HarperCollins Children’s
One day a little girl notices her eyes are different from her friends. Theirs are round with long eyelashes but hers kiss in the corners and crinkle into crescent moons.
The story sees her go on a journey to discover not just the importance of self-love but the value of family and heritage. For her beautiful eyes were a gift from her mum, who paints with her, tickles her when she gets home and tucks her in at night.
Joanna Ho and Dung Ho have created a book that is delicate and poetic, which celebrates difference and the generations, with the girl’s love for her grandmother and sister part of the narrative. It’s rare to see a book published in the UK centred on East Asian characters too. Hopefully more will follow. Buy from Amazon
14. Just Like Mummy by Lucy Freegard. £6.99 (paperback), Pavilion
Who wouldn’t want to grow up to be just like Mummy? She’s practical, creative and adventurous – but totally down to Earth in this story too.
Lucy Freegard has struck a brilliant balance between bigging mums up and being honest, with some great visual humour like the little leopard squirting mum with a water pistol as she tries to do a bit of yoga. There’s also a nice mix of classic mum-and-child activities, as well as less stereotypical (decorating and diving) and more realistic ones (working at a desk) too.
The child’s is not specified as a boy or girl either, which makes this book extra special, because I want my boys to grow up and aspire to be ‘just like Mummy’ as much as I would a daughter. Buy from Amazon
15. Red Red Red by Polly Dunbar. £7.99 (paperback), Walker
Big emotions can be overwhelming for small people as anyone who has dealt with toddler tantrums or stroppy three-nagers knows. But this clever book by acclaimed author Polly Dunbar offers a simple way to help them find some calm.
When the child sees “red, red, RED!”, the patient mummy surrounds them with love and teaches them to take a deep breath and count to ten instead.
Aside from the meditative guidance, this book is a lively and lovely to read aloud, with childlike red crayon scribbles used to clever effect to show the child’s feelings. Buy from Amazon
16. Zeki Loves Mummy by Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson. £6.99 (paperback), Alanna Max
This uplifting rhyming book is as comfy as Mummy’s cuddles, illustrating all the fun and care she showers on Zeki on their days together.
There are lots of smiles and intimate moments, with Ruth Hearson really capturing that special mother-and-baby bond in the artwork, from trips on the bike and building dens together. Buy from Amazon