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Llama Llama Single Mama

Llama Llama Red PajamaAnna Dewdney’s Llama Llama series has been one of the favorites of the four and five year olds in my classroom for years now. The fun rhymes combined with relatable stories and illustrations of the characters faces that are great at conveying emotions seem to really draw the children into the books. However, there is another aspect of the books which gives them extra depth. Mama Llama is a single mom.

This fact is never explicitly stated in the books, but the character of “Daddy Llama” has yet to make an appearance. Furthermore, from the very first book, Llama Llama Red Pajama, we see Mama Llama busily having to accomplish a variety of tasks without any support. Even though I have read these books hundreds of times over the past few years, I have literally never had a student ask a question about where Llama Llama’s Dad might be and I have never brought it up.

I suspect that in most cases young children won’t pick up on the fact that Llama’s family may not be like the heterosexual families with two parents that are found in your average children’s book; but, that does not mean that there is no impact from Llama Llama being raised by a single mom. Books like the Llama Llama series that don’t prominently feature a nuclear family almost subversively normalize that family type and give young children someone they can possibly relate to. Anecdotally, I can tell you that as a child raised by a single mom, I was often drawn to books/movies/songs with that dynamic even when I was not completely conscious of it.

Thus, I would argue it is important that we include books with a variety of family dynamic in our classrooms where the deviations from the standard nuclear family is not central to the story but sits in the background of the book. (Books where the different family type are central to the story can also be helpful if done well, but I would put them in a separate genre ). Unfortunately, those books are few and far between. Anyone have any recommendations for books that feature family variations but where those variations are not central to the story

Teddy Kokoros About Teddy Kokoros

Teddy Kokoros works as a Pre-K teacher and adjunct early childhood education professor in Boston, MA.



  1. That’s interesting. I never noticed that, either. The Quantum League: Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby has a boy raised by a single mom.

    Also, though not a book, in the Toy Story movies, Andy is raised by a mom, but there is never any mention of a dad.

  2. Lesley Colabucci says:

    Great question. I tend to notice when dads are not pictured or mentioned since my kid has two moms. But I’m also astutely award of our two dad families and how mom is every where in all media. What about “Kate and Nate are Running Late” or “Pecan Pie Baby.” I also recently came across “Bear Hug” by Laurence Pringle (who knew he wrote fiction!?) and thought it was a fun Dad-focused book that did not overcompensate or make the dad seem extra-ordinary as often is the trope.

  3. Erik Burgeson says:

    I had not noticed this before. But it is intriguing to think about. I’m just wondering if I have missed any good books with a single dad raising his kids. Not that is something I could relate to. 🙂

  4. I am rather pleased with myself that I never once questioned if there is a Papa Llama and wondered where he was. I actually won’t fret I’d one shows up in a future edition. Cue the music: I love the books just the way they are. 😉

  5. Editing above: Typo correction: “I actually won’t fret -if- one shows up in a future edition.”

    Either I need glasses or I have to start enlarging the font size on the screen. Or both. ;>

  6. I never noticed the absence of a daddy llama; however, my three year old daughter did. She loves the Llama Llama books and has her father and I read them to her at bedtime. The other night she asked where the daddy llama was and was very concerned. I thought this was pretty smart for a 3-year-old to notice. Great opportunity to teach her how not all families have a mommy and daddy.

  7. I was just noticing the lack of Dad in the Llama llama books myself. I haven’t read all of them (our library is missing some of the series), but I did notice that there’s never a dad, which is why I came online to look and see what others thought. I sincerely hope Mama Llama is a single mom, instead of a stay at home mom who takes on all the childrearing. I think that’s a bit optimistic of a viewpoint, but it would be nice. Otherwise it’s just transcribing the conservative family norms. I wish there were more dads in children’s books, actually, not being exceptional, but just a dad. Threatens so many books where you only see a woman taking care of her kid.

  8. To Kelly: “Rory the Dinosaur” is very cute. And seemingly on the Single Dad side of the scale.

  9. there is a book series? that I don’t remember the author, one is called when mama comes home tonight and another is called when papa comes home tonight. each is about a nightly routine from when the parent comes home to sleeping. and each one is a different family. lovely single parent books. as a military family my little one LOVES to hear daddy only books when his is away.

  10. Daddy, Could I Have an Elephant? by Jake Wolf and Marylin Hafner is a single-dad book. It’s never explicitly a single dad, but as Jake imagines life with various pets it is always just him and his dad.

  11. Rhythm Grace says:

    Llama llama, single moma,
    Ain’t got no time for llama moma drama.
    Llama Moma do the best she could,
    Llama llama growing up in the hood.
    Llama Daddy no were to be found,
    No one seem to care Llama Daddy ain’t around.
    Llama Moma deserve some mad respect,
    Moma llama lonely but Moma not wrecked.

  12. Tony Schmitz says:

    Maybe one day their will finally be a “Llama Llama needs a Papa”. Men need to step up and be dads. Theirs so much more to it then just being a financial contributor.

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