Sibling Relationships in Fiction: a Book List!

Sibling Relationships Fiction Book List for children and teens

Few things shape our lives as much as our parents and sibling relationships…unless it is also the stories we read in childhood. Books and reading often show us something “truer than if they had really happened,” giving us fresh eyes to see our own world more clearly.

As a mom of 5, I spend most of my days discipling (and sometimes just wrangling) my precious children through all their complicated daily sibling dramas, conflicts, friendships, and opinions about living life together as a family.

I love that the power of the stories read in our home comes alongside me in this journey! My friend Lynna, who teaches an online sibling parenting course, knows that I love nothing more than passing on good book recommendations. She recently wondered if I might have any suggestions for sibling-themed fiction.

Well, ask me for a book list, and I will always be more than happy to oblige! Grab your library card and get ready, because I have over 75 books from more than 20 series to share with you!

My criteria for categorizing books as Sibling Fiction

In choosing titles for this list, I thought of books in which the sibling relationships are a central, essential element to the story. These are also titles I have either read myself (sometimes only 1 book if a series) or have discussed with my older children who have read them.

These siblings do not always get along (in some books more than others). Sometimes they aren’t quite sure if they love each other. I’m not interested in romanticized drivel; if you’re not giving your children books where the protagonists are sinners, you need to choose better books.

“Siblings that say they never fight are most definitely hiding something.” Lemony Snicket

But there is at the core of these stories a love of family and friendship, a hopefulness, and a belief that ultimately the siblings can learn to love one another and work together, warts and all.

You may also note that many of the books feature larger families. Please don’t think because I say “especially good for large families” you shouldn’t read the title as an only child or smaller family!

My criteria for giving age ranges

When in doubt, I made them up.

Ok, not really. But age ranges are super tricky; different children will be sensitive to different content at different times. So, please use your own discretion as a family.

Also, “reading independently” is such a loaded phrase. I have had kids who started reading at 3, others who weren’t reading independently until 7. So it can be extremely difficult for me to gauge a “normal” reading level. I’ve done my best to not shoot too high or too low, but you are the best judge for what is accessible to your own child!!

The ages I advise are for a child reading the book on their own.

Read Aloud/Audiobook age ranges

Most ages are appropriate for read-alouds/audiobooks with the following titles. Although my first and second children may have waited a bit on some of these books, the younger ones have grown up with many of them. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, I think all of these books would be appropriate to read aloud together as a family with a wide range of ages.

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Sibling Relationship Fiction Book List


Ramona (series) by Beverly Cleary

“I am not a pest,” Ramona insists to her older sister, Beezus. The trouble is, she often actually is quite incorrigible. I love the Ramona series because each book is filled with the ordinary drama of childhood, including lots of learning to live with and love one’s sister. Sometimes the sisters think they might just hate each other, sometimes they seem destined to be best friends. Isn’t that how sibling relationships often work? While Cleary creates very vivid, ordinary, non-idealized portraits of sisterly drama, she also imbues her stories with the joys of friendship, hope, and love that are also a part of sibling life. (Want to read a series focusing on life as an only child? Cleary’s Henry Huggins series is fantastic!)

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Sisters
– Wide age range between siblings

Ages: The audiobooks for these are especially fantastic, and can be enjoyed on audio or read aloud by children as young as 4. My 5 and 7 year old couldn’t stop listening to the audiobooks on repeat for several months last year. Actually, even my 13 year old son loves listening to the audiobooks, and a few of the chapters have brought me as an adult to overwhelming laughter and tears. But the primary audience for independently reading these is probably 7+ years old.

Swallows and Amazons (series) by Arthur Ransome

This is and has been for a while my oldest daughter’s favorite series. She is a passionate evangelist, pressing the scrawled title on scraps of paper to many folks she’s just met, and all her family and friends. These adventure stories follow the adventures of several sets of siblings who become friends. There is one larger family and a few smaller sibling sets. Set in England in the 1930’s, these siblings and friends sail their dinghies and enjoy imaginative and explorative expeditions with limited adult involvement (every child’s fantasy). They have to learn how to lead and follow, how to cooperate, and how to overcome differences and disagreements.

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Everyone (according to my daughter)
– Large families with a mix of boys and girls
– Smaller families
– Lovers of historical fiction
– Lovers of England, sailing, pirates, adventure, camping, expeditions

Ages: 9+ years old for independent reading

Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright

I actually read the second book in this series first (The Four Story Mistake), and I think each title can easily stand on its own. Set in the US in the 1940s, the first books focus on the lives of the 4 Melendy siblings, who at the start of the series range in age from 13 to 6. The 3rd book in the series brings in a 5th child, who enters their family through a series of tragedies. The 4th book in the series explores how the youngest 2 siblings cope with being the only children left at home when the older 3 leave. Sweet, simple, ordinary lives with the great drama and adventure of childhood, friendship, family, and sibling relationships.

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Families with boys and girls
– Families who have brought in additional siblings through non-biological ways (books 3 and 4)
– Siblings who share widely varying interests/personalities, but still want to be good friends

Ages: We read the 2nd book in the series aloud as a family with a range of 2 years old to 12 years old. For independent readers, probably 9+

The Moffats (series) by Eleanor Estes

Set in Connecticut during WW1, the series follows the childhood of 4 siblings being raised by a widowed working mother in a lower-middle class setting. Delightful, humorous, poignant. The 2 middle titles won Newberry Medals. The series doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, but always with hope and joy.

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Single parent families
– Families with boys and girls
– Learning about the joys that can come even in times of struggle

Ages: 8+ for reading independently.

Do you like The Moffats and are looking for more books by Estes featuring siblings having adventure and overcoming obstacles together? Try Ginger Pye and Pinky Pye!

All of a Kind Family (series) by Sydney Taylor

5 Sisters, and later a new baby (boy? girl? No spoilers here!). New York City, pre WW1. These stories are based on the childhood of the author, who was born to Jewish immigrant parents in 1904. I read the first book in the series aloud a couple years ago to my own children, and was delighted to see this personal depiction of American Jewish children from the early 20th century. In so many ways this series just speaks of ordinary adventures and ordinary family life, organically woven throughout with the traditions of another culture! My 2 younger daughters still often listen to the All of a Kind Family audiobooks we own, too!

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Large Families (of all gender combinations)
– Sisters
– Understanding another culture/understanding Jewish culture of 20th century/learning a bit of immigration history

Ages: 7+ reading independently.

Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank Gilbreth

This semi-autobiographical novel recounts a family living life with twelve children in the middle of the 20th century. Let that just sink in a minute. Need I say more? Very funny.

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Large and Extra-Large families
– Smaller families who wonder what it’s like to have a big family
– Parents with a medium family who need to remember that it could be crazier
– Parents who want to laugh!

Ages: I think this is best as a read aloud for the younger years, since some families may want to be aware of topics that come up for discussion. 12+ for independent reading.

Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys by Louise May Alcott

You didn’t think I’d forget these, did you? Sometimes idealistic, always inspiring and kind, these stories tell the story of the March sisters and their progeny. I think you all have heard of these before. But if you stopped with Little Women, you’re missing out! Little Men might not be strictly “sibling” related (although siblings are part of the main cast of characters), but if living in a boarding school with Jo as your Mama doesn’t make you a quasi-sibling I don’t know what will!

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Everyone?
– Please don’t just read Little Women

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Ages: 9+ independent reading.

The Penderwicks (series) by Jeanne Birdsall

I have only read the first book in this series, but have heard good information that the rest of the series is worth reading as well! 4 sisters. A single father. It is very reminiscent of the books I have already mentioned, with the added benefit of being set in modern times! How delightful. The subjects dealt with are not always pretty or easy. The children are not saints (please don’t have your children read books where the main child protagonists seemed destined for sainthood!). Lovely pictures of family life with all its quirks and drama.

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Sisters
– Single-parents families
– Learning to adjust to change
– Those who prefer modern settings

Ages: 10+ reading independently

5 Children and It (and other books) by E. Nesbit

I learned an interesting tidbit while looking up information on this title. According to Wikipedia (the source of all trustworthy knowledge, right?), it has never been out of print since its original publication in 1902! That’s amazing! 5 siblings. A bit of a magical/fantastical element. Drama, humor, quirky adventures. A lovely and amusing tale!

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Many siblings
– Fantasy-lovers
– Learning about unintended consequences

Ages: 8+ reading independently

Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

As I was brainstorming and compiling a list of books to include in this post, one of my children encouraged me not to forget The Chronicles of Narnia! Most of the books in the series feature either a sibling group, a friend-group, or both. For sibling-specific reading, I’d encourage you to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Siblings with conflict (betraying your siblings to the White Witch takes sibling rivalry to a whole other level, am I right?)
– Fantasy-lovers
– Lovers of adventure

Ages: 7+ reading independently

Derwood, Inc (and the rest of the Peabody Adventure Series) by Jeri Massi

This delightful series was one I enjoyed as a child. Abandoned is a book I probably read dozens of times! Each title is a mystery of sorts, with the main protagonists being a blended family (his, hers, and ours) and their friends. I do not hear anyone talk about this series anymore, so am not sure how widely it is available. But I am thankful to have the entire series from my childhood on our shelves!

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Mystery-lovers
– Blended families
– Larger families
– Lovers of adventure stories
– Survival stories (Abandoned; seriously, to this day, when I cannot fall asleep I ponder what I’d want in my backpack if I were abandoned in the middle of nowhere…)

Ages: 9+ reading independently

5 Little Peppers and How They Grew (and series) by Margaret Sydney

This series spans ~17 years of a family’s life. They are set during the late 1800s to early 1900s. Large family, widowhood, poverty, remarriage, and many other topics are broached.

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Larger families
– Blended Families
– Historical fiction lovers

Ages: 7+ independent reading

Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser

If you love any of the earlier fiction listed above (Estes, Enright, Sydney, Nesbit, Ransome, etc), I think that Glaser has created a fantastic work for modern day readers. I laughed. I cried. I recorded my first Facebook live. I loved seeing this ordinary family with fairly ordinary children and ordinary life difficulties having adventures and loving and growing together in a brownstone in NYC!

Especially (but never exclusively) good for:
– Those who prefer modern settings
– Those with multiple siblings
– Those who live in a city
– Those who wonder what it’s like to live in a city

Ages: 10+ reading independently

Other Titles:

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (fantasy; 9+ reading independently)

When it comes to laying down your life for your friend, being irritated by your family, learning what it means to be a hero, and escaping from a myriad of bizarrely creative foes, The Wingfeather Saga has you covered!

The Green Ember series by S. D. Smith (fantasy; 8+ reading independently)

Half Magic and other books by Edgar Eager (fantasy/historical fiction; 8+ reading independently)

Little House on the Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder (historical fiction; 7+ reading independently)

Little Britches (series) by Ralph Moody (historical fiction; 9+ reading independently)

Ashtown Burials series by N. D. Wilson (modern fantasy; 12+ reading independently)

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt (coming of age story set during Vietnam War era; perhaps one of my top 10 books of all time. The sibling element is present and important, but is only 1 of several elements to the central story, which is why I am relegating it down here to the bottom of the list. 11+ reading independently.)

Older Readers: Sibling Relationships in Classic Books

Older teens? I don’t want to leave them out!

Well, first, they should read the books I’ve already listed. Because, as Lewis reminds us:

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

But these other titles I have specially curated in keeping with this topic of Sibling Relationships:

Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

All the books I left off the list

Truthfully, I am sure that I have left off so many titles that should have been included!  I didn’t even try to list picture books, for instance.

Please comment, reply, or pester me on social media with the titles you feel sure I should have included!

Use and follow the hashtag #siblingfiction to clue us in, and make sure to tag @humilityanddoxology!

Sibling Relationships Fiction Book List for children and teens
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13 thoughts on “Sibling Relationships in Fiction: a Book List!”

  1. I enjoyed this list-thank you.
    Another recommendation is the very English, funny Family at One End Street series featuring a large, poor family in the 1920s.

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  4. When I was looking over these, I thought, “These are basically all of the best children’s books I know of, they just happen to all have siblings.”

    Right now, I am reading The House of Arden by E. Nesbit and it is a fun sibling story because it is about a brother and a sister who have to learn how to work together to make time traveling magic work. (The magical creature who allows them to travel through time will only appear if they haven’t argued for three days – and that’s not easy for them…) It’s kind of all over the place with history because of the time-traveling, so you have to know your English history a bit to follow it well.

  5. Also, I just have to agree with your daughter that I love Swallows and Amazons – though I think my husband might just love them even more. We enjoy the Audible version because the reader is lovely.

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