The decision to buck the trend and have a child on your own — that is, to become a Single Mother by Choice (SMC) — is a weighty one. Most current single mothers will assure you that the positives of being an SMC far outweigh the negatives. But they’re s also likely to be up front about the myriad unique challenges experienced by SMCs and their families. Among other things, Single Mothers by Choice must deal with emotional discussions about family makeup, personal questions from strangers, and taking on the two very different roles of both “mom” and “dad.”
Fortunately, there are more and more books released each year on the topic of single parenting by choice. Below, we’ve researched and outlined 30 of the most helpful. While many of these books are aimed at a mother herself, others are children’s books meant to help a Single Mother by Choice navigate a curious child’s questions.
All Kinds of Families!
Mary Ann Hoberman
Kids who read All Kinds of Families! learn about the myriad types of families that surround us. Through fun illustrations and rhymes, author Mary Ann Hoberman exposes children to the ideas of different human family compositions, plus families of grouped buttons, foods, and other common objects.
Before You Were Born…My Wish For a Baby (SMC Donor Insemination Version)
Written by a knowledgeable nurse, Before You Were Born describes the concept of conceiving a child via sperm donation. Because this picture book is written in suitable language, parents can be assured the story is age appropriate for kids ages three to five years old. Parents should, however, be aware that Grimes’s book uses the term “donor,” but does not use the terms “sperm” or “egg.” Before You Were Born can be also be purchased in other versions, including:
- egg donation
- embryo donation
- single dad with donor egg
- traditional surrogate.
Dream Come True: The Story of a Single Woman Conceiving via Donor Insemination
Elaina Leigh wrote her picture book Dream Come True to help single parents explain the concept of donors to young children. It’s written in simple, age-appropriate, and easy-to-understand language. Dream Come True is a perfect addition to the bookshelf of any donor-conceived child. As an added bonus, book buyers can even purchase versions of the book personalized with dedications and picture replacements.
The Family Book
Todd Parr’s The Family Book uses child-friendly language and fun, colorful illustrations to introduce children to a variety of family types. Kids will see families with one parent, families with a mom and a dad, families with two moms or two dads, families that are small, and families that are large. Ultimately, children reading The Family Book will see that all families are special and even alike in some ways.
For Mommy So Loved You
Leigh James’s For Mommy So Loved You is a favorite among Single Mothers by Choice and their children. It’s written from the heart and features beautiful illustrations. This children’s book tells the story of a single woman who uses an anonymous donor in order to build the family she has always wanted. The story, which is available in both IUI and IVF versions, makes it easy for children to understand the circumstances of their conception.
Sometimes SMCs choose to explain to their child the idea of single motherhood without such explicit use of terms like “donor”, “conception,” “sperm,” etc. In that case, Hattie Peck by Emma Levey is a must-have for any donor-conceived child’s bookshelf. This adorable picture book tells the story of Hattie, a chicken who dreams about laying eggs, but can’t quite seem to make it happen. Understanding that she must find an egg instead, Hattie heads out into the world in search of abandoned eggs. But Hattie finds so many, she finds herself back at home sitting on a massive pile of eggs! This book explains the very basic concept of adoption or donor conception. It also instills in young minds the importance of going after one’s most cherished dreams.
It’s Okay to Be Different
Unlike The Family Book, this particular title by Todd Parr isn’t about families who are different. Rather, It’s Okay to Be Different asks young children to embrace and be proud of the things that make them different from others. Children will look at the colorfully presented scenarios and see themselves.
I’ve Got Dibs!: A Donor Sibling Story
It’s possible that at some point, a Single Mother by Choice will want a book explaining the concept of “donor siblings” or “diblings” — that is, other children conceived using the same donor. In the adorable I’ve Got Dibs!, Amy Dorfman tells the story of a young girl learning about the fact that she herself has donor siblings. This book is especially helpful for answering the many identity-based questions that often stem from the knowledge that one shares a certain biological link with strangers. More importantly, it helps her understand and appreciate her own unique donor family.
Making Violet: A Sperm Donor Story
Author Erin DeVore is the mother of a child conceived via sperm donor. She was inspired to write her picture book, Making Violet, when she struggled to explain to her daughter her unique family story. Making Violet is simple and honest, and uses the metaphor mixing different paint colors to explain how donor-conceived children are ultimately created.
Meeting My Brother
Jennifer L. Dukoff
For the donor-conceived child learning about (and perhaps even meeting) “diblings,” Jennifer L. Dukoff’s Meeting My Brother is a must read. The heartwarming picture book portrays the reality of half-siblings meeting for the first time and the bond that likely follows. Emphasis is placed on the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all are special.
My Incredible Creation: An IVF Journey
Children conceived via IVF will find Julian Duband’s My Incredible Creation: An IVF Journey to provide a helpful explanation of the process. Through simplified, age-appropriate language and even some humor, My Incredible Creation aims to make children feel confident about their miraculous origins.
Nan’s Donut Dilemma
Mary E. Ryan
Nan’s Donut Dilemma is an excellent resource for SMCs to have on hand as a guide for those inevitable times when the absence of a father comes up. Written by Mary E. Ryan, this adorable picture book tells the story of Nan and her Kindergarten class’s upcoming Donuts for Dads event. Nan is teased by her classmates when they find out that she does not have a dad. However, Nan ultimately learns that her family is just as special and normal as anyone else’s — even if it doesn’t follow the traditional model.
Our Story: How We Became a Family (Sperm Donation in Solo Mum Families)
Donor Conception Network
For years, Single Mothers by Choice have been turning to the Donor Conception Network (DCN) for valuable resources and information. These resources include DCN’s many children’s books like Our Story: How We Became a Family. A variety of editions exist, including for sperm donation, IVF, and donor insemination, among others. The books are written specifically for children ages two through six. They use age-appropriate language to explain from a child’s perspective the process of their creation.
The Pea That Was Me: A Single Mom’s Sperm Donation Children’s Story
Kimberly Kluger-Bell LMFT
SMCs looking for an entertaining picture book to help explain the basic concept of sperm donation would do well to look at The Pea That Was Me. Positive, entertaining, and age appropriate, this picture book by Kimberly Kluger-Bell LMFT discusses the way a sperm and egg combine to form “a little pea,” and how ultimately, that pea grows into a baby. Throughout the book, a major emphasis is placed on how much a donor-conceived child is wanted. This book is most appropriate for children ages three and up.
The Pea That Was Me & Me & Me: How All Kinds of Babies Are Made
Kimberly Kluger-Bell LMFT
An extension of the above title, The Pea That Was Me & Me & Me discusses all the types of ways children can come into the world. Donor conception is represented, as is surrogacy, adoption, embryo donation, and “the old fashioned way.” Despite its rather scientific subject matter, author Kim Kluger-Bell has gone to great care to make sure this book is appropriate for and easily understood by kids.
Raising You Alone
Like the rest of the books in this category, Warren Hanson’s Raising You Alone is a picture book aimed at children of single parents. What makes this book unique, however, is that it portrays a single-parent family from the perspective of the parent herself. Heartwarming, funny, and honest, Raising Your Alone is an essential book for any Single Mother by Choice and her child or children.
Why Don’t I Have a Daddy?: A Story of Donor Conception
George Anne Clay
George Anne Clay’s Why Don’t I Have a Daddy? focuses on a lion cub who has begun to notice that his family looks different than other families around him. Instead of a mother and a father, the lion cub has only a mother. When the lion cub finds out that a donor lion helped to make his life possible, he begins to understand just how special his little family is. Children will love the colorful illustrations, while parents will appreciate the story’s easy-to-understand message.
You Were Meant to Be
Parents struggling to explain the concept of egg and sperm donation to their young children may find Sherry Keen’s You Were Meant to Be helpful. This illustrated picture book features a mother attempting to answer her children’s many questions about their conception. As she answers their thoughtful questions, the mother maintains the focus that they are loved beyond measure. Topics covered are many, and include:
- egg donation
- sperm donation
- generosity of donors
- and more.
Your Family: A Donor Kid’s Story
Wendy Kramer, author of Your Family: A Donor Kid’s Story knows all about the tough task of explaining to donor-conceived children the story of their conception. After all, Kramer is the co-founder and current director of the Donor Sibling Registry. In this helpful, yet entertaining picture book, Kramer presents the story of a parent whose desire to have a child leads them to the use of a donor. Inclusive of all family types, this book uses colorful illustrations, easy-to-grasp explanations, and just the right amount of facts to broach topics such as donors, half siblings, biological parents, etc.
Books for Mom
Adopting On Your Own: The Complete Guide to Adoption for Single Parents
Not every Single Mother by Choice becomes so via donor insemination. Many choose to adopt either domestically or internationally! Lee Varon’s Adopting On Your Own covers a variety of topics that are sure to be of interest to anyone choosing such a path. Each topic is supplemented with answers to common questions, up-to-date information, and insight from single parents who have successfully made adoption happen for them.
Choosing Single Motherhood: A Thinking Woman’s Guide
Whether one has just started the process or is still in the thinking stages of becoming a Single Mother by Choice, Mikki Morrissette’s Choosing Single Motherhood: A Thinking Woman’s Guide is an invaluable resource. Comprehensive and informative, this must-read text offers a list of valuable questions one should ask herself before committing to parenthood. Also included is:
- information about which doctor to see first
- resources to take advantage of
- what it’s ultimately like to answer to very-real questions of a donor-conceived child.
Choosing You: Deciding to Have a Baby on My Own
Current and prospective Single Mothers by Choice may be interested in a SMC’s personal story. If that’s you, then check out Choosing You by Alexandra Soiseth. The author uses humor, compassion, and determination to tell the story of how she went from dreaming about a husband and family to deciding to have a baby on her own. Soiseth’s journey is both inspiring and realistic. She discusses such topics as:
- unsupportive friends and family
- fertility troubles
- issues of self image
- society’s stereotypes of single mothers.
The Complete Single Mother: Reassuring Answers to Your Most Challenging Concerns
Any single mother, whether by choice or by circumstance, will tell you that there are often unique challenges to raising a child alone. Fortunately, Andrea Engber wrote The Complete Single Mother for just those challenging times. Covering topics ranging from dating to finances, The Complete Single Mother: Reassuring Answers to Your Most Challenging Concerns is the perfect book to pick up whenever you need a little insight.
Finding Our Families: A First-Of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families
Wendy Kramer and Naomi Cahn, J.D.
Unlike most other books on our list, Finding Our Families is not directly aimed at Single Mothers by Choice. Rather, it’s aimed at both those who were themselves donor conceived and those raising these donor-conceived people. Still, it makes for a valuable resource for any SMC. Written from the perspective that all donor-conceived children have the right to know about their genetics, the book covers such topics as:
- supporting a child’s curiosity
- fostering a child’s healthy self image
- where and how to search for “diblings” and donors
- filling in medical history information.
Helping the Stork: The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination
Carol Frost Vercollone, M.S.W.; Heidi Moss, M.S.W.; and Robert Moss, Ph.D.
Helping the Stork is a must-read for any would-be parent considering donor insemination to overcome childlessness. It’s written by three medical professionals. Helping the Stork consists of valuable information meant to help parent(s), family and friends, counselors, and even other doctors work through the process of choosing a donor, conceiving, and raising a donor-conceived child. Topics covered are many, and include:
- privacy issues
- common challenges
- growing as a family.
Knock Yourself Up: No Man? No Problem: A Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom
Women who are still in the consideration stage of becoming a Single Mother by Choice are sure to find Louise Sloan’s Knock Yourself Up to be extremely helpful. Written in a straightforward manner with plenty of humor, Knock Yourself Up honestly addresses myriad topics ranging from conception options (e.g. IUI vs. IVF), to figuring out finances for two, to dealing with the opinions of friends and family, among plenty of other things.
Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families
How does a Single Mother by Choice answer the question “Where is my dad?” Will a donor-conceived child love its parent less? What will people think about your decision to have a child on your own? If these are questions you’ve thought about — and if you’re like most Single Mothers by Choice, you’d definitely thought about them! — then add clinical psychologist Diane Ehrensaft’s book to your reading list. Entitled Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates, this incredibly helpful text covers all of the big questions. Best of all, this book is inclusive of all family types. It provides valuable insight to and from anyone raising a donor-conceived child.
Single By Chance, Mothers By Choice: How Woman are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family
More and more educated, middle-class women are choosing to become Single Mothers by Choice. This must-read book by Rosanna Hertz documents the most fascinating elements of this inspiring phenomenon. Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice is an easy-to-navigate text consisting mainly of interviews with 65 women who chose to take control of their family situation and become SMCs. The women discuss everything from the courage needed to get started to selecting the ideal donor, to navigating daily life as a single parent. Current SMCs will find their fellow mothers’ stories encouraging, Prospective single mothers will gain insight into a series of valuable questions about what it means to take on this unconventional, yet rewarding path to motherhood.
Single Mothers by Choice: A Guidebook for Single Women Who Are Considering or Have Chosen Motherhood
As its name implies, Single Mothers by Choice: A Guidebook for Single Women… is an incredibly helpful resource for the woman who has chosen to have a child on her own. Author Jane Mattes, founder of the national Single Mothers by Choice organization, covers just about everything in this must-read tome. Topics include pregnancy versus adoption, dealing with strangers’ “daddy questions,” and various support groups that exist worldwide, among countless other things.
Sperm Donor = Dad: A Single Woman’s Story of Creating a Family With an Unknown Donor
Sperm Donor = Dad sometimes feels more like a sitcom than it does a book. Hilarious and heartwarming, this memoir by Cheryl Schuler recounts her decision to quit waiting around for Mr. Right and to pursue a family via anonymous sperm donor. Schuler describes the highs and lows of raising a son on her own, the pair’s search for her donor’s identity, and meeting and forming relationships with her son’s “diblings.” There are even chapters written by the son, one of his diblings, and the donor himself!