25 Books of Revolutionary Mothering

In honour of International Women’s Day and the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, our theme this month is “Revolutionary Mothering”. It is the idea that mothering not only means taking care of one’s own children but it also means building community and ensuring survival for the future generation. It is this radical act of care-taking and supporting life that is fundamental to raising children who will become equity champions and builders of revolutionary communities of love, diversity, and inclusion. Here are 25 titles ranging from children's board books to Adult non-fiction on mothering, being revolutionary, and on revolutionary mothering that you can add to your library today.

15 of the 25 book covers from the list on a red background

We are looking at mothering as an investment in the future that requires a person to change the status quo of their own lives, of their community and of the society as a whole again and again and again in the practice of affirming growing, unpredictable people who deserve a world that is better than what we can even imagine. ... And many people do the labor of mothering who would never even dream of identifying as mothers, even though they do the daily intergenerational care work of making a hostile world an affirming space for another person who is growing mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. -Alexis Pauline Gumbs, "Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the front lines"

MAR Recommends: 25 Books of Revolutionary Mothering

This month, MAR explores the theme of “revolutionary mothering”. But what does it mean to be revolutionary? To me, it means dreaming big, having goals, and getting stuff done. It’s persistence, ambition, and a lot of drive. It involves tirelessly standing up for what you believe in, and fighting for real change that benefits the greater good and betters the world we live in. It’s being passionate, unapologetic, and maybe more than a little bit loud. It’s learning to feel comfortable making others uncomfortable while often questioning everything, going against the grain, and challenging the status quo. It’s qualities that are less acceptable for women to possess while traditionally praised in men. And although that seems to be gradually changing, it is much more socially acceptable for white women to possess “revolutionary” qualities than it is for women of colour. There’s definitely still a double standard here, and whether these revolutionary traits are viewed as positive or negative depends on who is displaying them as well as who the spectators and observers are.

When I think of what it means to be revolutionary in terms of mothering, in my (admittedly slightly biased) opinion, I’d argue that this is exactly everything that MAR strives to be. We are starting small revolutions in our own homes and families, “doing the work, starting at home” and fighting for change in our communities. We’re having uncomfortable conversations, amplifying the voices that need to be heard, and asking important questions, all while raising the next generation to feel encouraged and empowered to do the same.

For this month’s booklist, I took these ideas of what it means to be a revolutionary, and combined them with positive portrayals of mothering in a variety of different forms. The baby and toddler as well as picture book lists lean more heavily towards a focus on mother-child relationships, while the lists for older readers also include stories of characters who exemplify revolutionary ideals. With the exception of the list for adult readers which is entirely nonfiction this month, the lists contain a blend of fiction and nonfiction, allowing young readers to see both real-life as well as fictional examples of strong personalities that follow their dreams, persevere through challenges and adversity, advocate for change, and fight for what they believe in. I hope you’ll find stories that set examples for the young people in your life, and I hope they (and you!) will feel inspired to start your own revolutions as you continue on in this important journey.

Board Books

When I Carried You in My Belly by Thrity Umrigar

“Thrity Umrigar's lyrical and playful text are well complemented by Ziyue Chen's soft and delightful illustrations, and together they create a sentimental and insightful book about the special bond between parents and children. ” - Goodreads

Think Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison

“This board book edition of Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World by New York Times bestselling author Vashti Harrison is a beautiful first book to teach your little dreamers to follow all their biggest ideas! Featuring eighteen women creators, ranging from writers to inventors, artists to scientists, this board book adaptation of Little Dreamers introduces trailblazing women like Mary Blair, an American modernist painter who had a major influence on how color was used in early animated films, environmental activist Wangari Maathai, and architect Zaha Hadid.” - A Mighty Girl

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse

“A vibrant, playful verse that celebrates a beautiful brown baby’s sweet little knees, for fans of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Snuggle with a child on your lap with this companion title to the popular board book Whose Toes Are Those?. With lush, adorable pictures from New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham, reminiscent of the beloved work of Ezra Jack Keats, this interactive rhyme full of toddler appeal is a perfect baby gift for parent-child playtime.” - Hachette Book Group

My Mommy Medicine by Edwidge Danticat