Children’s books about sibling rivalry
Sibling conflict can really spoil family time. Constant bickering or relentless competitiveness can really wear on parents’ nerves. Yes, there are parenting strategies you can use to tackle rivalry between siblings (see Sibling conflict: a survival guide for parents), but sometimes a more subtle approach is useful too. Like snuggling up with story books about sibling rivalry and seeing where the conversation leads you. Using children’s books to tackle sibling rivalry helps children think more deeply and independently about relationships, about how other people feel and how to manage their emotions. Here’s my list of the best children’s books about sibling rivalry.
(These are books for siblings who are already here. If you want to prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby, check out these Books for preparing toddlers for new babies.)
I am a huge fan of Rachel Bright’s books and this one’s a gem. The rhyming text is easy to read out loud but wonderfully rich and the illustrations (by Jim Field) are sweet and funny without being cloying. It’s a simple tale about learning to share but wonderfully funny and suitable even for very little ones. Lots of conversations to be had about those nutty squirrels! The Squirrels Who Squabbled by Rachel Bright (1-5yrs).
Having grown up with an older brother (and still living in a house where I am vastly outnumbered gender-wise), this book really hits my buttons. For sure, it falls back on stereotypes (boys are presented as dirty and smelly) but the moral of the story is very sound: if we look carefully we will see the value in everyone. Might be a good one if you have a daughter who is struggling to connect with her brother? I Do Not Like Living With Brothers is by Daniel Baxter. (3-6yrs)
Violet and Victor are twins who set out to write a book. As the story unfolds, we see their different characters, strengths and talents and witness their shifts between sibling confrontation and co-operation. Both characters’ voices are heard (pay attention to the colour of the text to know who’s talking!) in this sweet tale about how working together gets the best result. The Best Ever Bookworm Book is by Alice Kuipers. (3-6yrs)
It is the illustrations that make this book! It’s a very simple story: two turtles find a hat and have to work out how to share it. But the nuance and possibilities in the illustrations are delightful, making it a book to dwell on and talk about rather than just read straight through. (The expressions on those turtles faces hold a whole heap of humour for the adult reader, too!). We Found A Hat by Jon Klassen is part of a trilogy, with I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat. (3-7yrs)
Katie is a big sister who sometimes loses her temper with her little brother. Especially when he messes with her stuff. Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail explores the angry feelings children can experience in sibling relationships and ideas for calming themselves down. It is beautifully non-judgemental – great for an older sibling who is struggling to manage their frustration with a younger child who doesn’t know better. (3-8yrs)
Zoe’s Room by Bethanie Murguia only seems to be available in hardback, so it’s a bit expensive. But if sharing a room is the issue, it might be the perfect book for you. Queen Zoe resents having to share her bedroom kingdom with her little sister. Things do not go well until Zoe starts to see the advantages of having her little sister around. And if Queen Zoe strikes a chord, there are follow up books too. Lovely illustrations! (4-7yrs)
Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio is not specifically about siblings. But Dragon’s outrageous behaviour is not unlike a younger sibling (he scribbles in books, he burps in church and steals sweets). The moral of the story is to look past someone’s behaviour and try to understand their motivation (which is not always obvious). It’s about avoiding knee-jerk reactions and seeing the world from someone else’s point of view. A great conversation starter. And it’s also really very funny! (4-7yrs)
Gone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissinger is a bit different. It is written in verse and alternates between two different characters’ perspectives – big brother Sam and his pesky little sister Lucy. Sam is not pleased about Lucy tagging along on his fishing trip with Dad. Sweet and funny with brilliant descriptions, you could use this book to prompt conversations about sibling rivalry, poetry, families or fishing! Great for reading out loud and/or poetry fans. (4-9yrs)
Sister and brother Martha and Hal are relentlessly competitive (sound familiar?!). But when they find themselves in an unfamiliar situation during a walk in the woods, they start to co-operate and help each other. They learn that being first is not always the most important thing. The contrast between competitive and co-operative behaviour is a great conversation starter on how to be a good family team player. Me First is by Max Kornell. (5-8yrs)
The Pain and the Great One by the brilliant Judy Blume is a must-read book for slightly older children who can’t stop needling each other and competing for supremacy. An 8-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother take turns describing each other (‘the pain’ and ‘the great one’ are their nicknames for each other). Their sibling rivalry plays out in a humorous and very real story and this is the first book in a series so there is a whole boxset if the kids like it! If that’s not enough, you’ll also find sibling rivalry themes in Judy Blume’s Superfudge. (6-10yrs)
Can’t find what you are looking for here? Try Best books to teach children social skills (2-7yrs) and Books for talking to children about emotions. And do leave a comment if there are particular books about sibling rivalry that have struck a chord with your children!
This is not a sponsored post, I wrote it in response to the questions I am frequently asked during my seminars and parenting clinics. However, it does contain affiliate links (which means that if you click through from this post and buy one of these books about sibling rivalry, I will get a small fee). For more info, see my Disclosure Notice.