Where Do You Go All Day? Picture Books for Working Parents

Each year in April kids across the country spend a special day tagging along with Mom or Dad as they go to work. 2014 marks the 21st anniversary of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day program. This program gives kids a glimpse into the grown-up world of work and, hopefully, instills a sense of the education, energy, and balance that are required of working parents. As a working mom, it's often hard to explain to my young son where I am all day, why I have to go, and that I'll always come back to him. These standout picture books may help kids understand their parents' workdays and reassure them that we love them even when we're gone.

Don't Forget I Love You, written by Miriam Moss and illustrated by Anna Currey, captures the familiar frenzy of trying to get to school and work on time in the morning.  As Mama Bear drops Billy Bear off in a rush, she forgets to say "I love you," leaving Billy feeling distressed. By the book's end, though, he is comforted and reminded that Mama loves him even when she's too busy to say it.

In Kate Banks' The Night Worker, little Alex's Papa tucks him in each night, then puts on his hard hat and heads to work. "Take me with you" whispers Alex every time.  One night, Papa does. With his own little hard hat on, Alex explores Papa's night time world of construction and engineering in the dark. This sweet story may help parents who work the late shift give their child a peek into what it's like for them to be a night worker.

For a lighter take on workday stress, Amy Schwartz's classic Bea and Mr. Jones introduces us to Bea Jones and her father. Bea has had it with the boredom of Kindergarten, and Mr. Jones is fed up with the daily grind of his 9-5 office job. So naturally, they trade places! Mr. Jones excels at colors, numbers, and letters, and Bea loves her new commute and her new boss' sense of humor. It's a perfectly silly solution that makes a great story for kids.

Eileen Spinelli's comforting lullaby When Mama Comes Home Tonight uses rhythmic text and Jane Dyer's calm illustrations to soothe the anxious nerves of any little one waiting for Mom to return home from work. "When Mama comes home from work, dear child, when Mama comes home tonight, she'll cover you with kisses, she'll hug you sweet and tight." The scenes are idyllic, the harmony is enviable, but it works here as the small child and mother reconnect through simple nightly rituals and acts of love.