In honor of Mother’s Day here’s a list of some of the most wonderful, strong, and inspiring mothers from literature.
Just like our real mothers, these best book moms are full of great wisdom and advice, do their best, and are always there for their kids.
Even though the majority of these top fictional mothers are not central characters in their respective books, they support our heroes and heroines and are incredibly important to the story.
Also, this list represents mothers from all different walks of life, with different parenting styles and different roads to motherhood.
1. Marmee March from Little Women
“The love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy.
— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
The March family matriarch, Margaret “Marmee” March, was as warm and supportive as they come, offering a listening ear and motherly advice to her four girls.
The four March sisters may have been very different, but Marmee raised them to be spirited and loved them for who they were.
This iconic book mom worked to set an example and teach her daughters values such as hard work, gratitude, and that money isn’t everything.
2. Mrs. Frannie Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars
” ‘As long as either of us is alive I’ll always be your mother,’ she said. Even if you die, I-‘
‘When,’ I said.
She nodded. ‘Even when you die, I will still be your mom, Hazel. I won’t stop being your mom. Have you stopped loving Gus?’ I shook my head. ‘Well, then how could I stop loving you?’ “
-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Hazel’s mom is dealing with the unthinkable; a terminally ill child.
Yes, Mrs. Lancaster is a bit of a “helicopter mom” but she undeniably has good intentions.
She tries to keep her daughter in a positive frame of mind by celebrating every holiday under the sun, and is just as concerned with Hazel’s mental wellbeing as she is with her physical health.
And, she’s actually kind of cool.
She’s not above an America’s Top Model marathon, and she helped her daughter safely get to Amsterdam to fulfill her dream.
She also gave her daughter space enough to fall in love, and yes… eventually get her heart broken. And of course, she was there to be supportive to Hazel while she was hurting.
3. Katie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
“Mother, I am young. Mother, I am just eighteen. I am strong. I will work hard, Mother. But I do not want this child to grow up just to work hard. What must I do, mother, what must I do to make a different world for her? How do I start?”
“The secret lies in the reading and the writing. You are able to read. Every day you must read one page from some good book to your child. Every day this must be until the child learns to read. Then she must read every day, I know this is the secret”
-Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Katie Nolan may not have been the warm mother you’d run to for a comforting hug, but she still deserves a spot on the list. Francie’s mother had a hard life, having to work hard and deal with her husband’s shortcomings, but she always managed to pull it together for her children.
When Francie was a baby Katie asked her own mother how to give her daughter a better life than her own. The answer was education, and so Katie steadfastly read to her children from Shakespeare and The Bible every night, and inspired a love of books in her daughter.
In the hardest of times, Katie put on a brave face and did the best she could for her family.
She had to make difficult choices.
But, she owned them and made them with love, which is all you can ask for in a mother.
4. Bernadette Fox from Where’d You Go, Bernadette
“While you spent your whole life at work, me and Mom were having the best, funnest time ever. Mom and I lived for each other. She wouldn’t do anything close to getting drunk and walking next to a ship’s balcony because it would mean she might never see me again. That you think she would shows how little you know her.”
-Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette
OK, yes. Bernadette ran away from her home and family without so much as a note… but hear me out.
Bernadette was Bee’s biggest fan. She was such a strong presence for her daughter that Bee didn’t doubt her, even in her absence. She didn’t hesitate to drop an ‘f-bomb’ at a mother who treated Bee unfairly and dragged her into adult issues. She teaches her daughter to stand up for herself.
Yes, she left. She wasn’t perfect.
But in a world where women and especially mothers are often expected to be selfless to a fault, it’s refreshing to see Bernadette set the example and show her daughter that it’s ok to put yourself first too. She modeled how to overcome fears and chase the things that make you feel alive.
Her methods may not have been perfect, but she owned it and Bee was lucky to have a mother like Bernadette.
5. Miss Jennifer Honey from Matilda
“If you think some rotten TV programme is more important than your daughter’s future, then you ought not to be a parent!”
-Roald Dahl, Matilda
Jennifer Honey didn’t have a great mother figure to look up to in her own childhood, but that didn’t stop her from becoming one of the warmest maternal figures in literature.
Miss Honey was a loving teacher, and all her kids in the classroom adored her kind and caring nature, but she was also a fierce advocate for the kids.
She stood up not only to the school principal to try to get Matilda in classes that would challenge her, but also to her parents.
Matilda’s birth mother wasn’t going to win any “Mother of the Year” awards, but luckily for Matilda, Miss Honey stepped up.
Jennifer Honey proves you don’t have to give birth to be a mother, and adopts the child she already loved without question to give her a better life.
6. Miriam from A Thousand Splendid Suns
” ‘Why have you pinned your heart to an old, ugly hag like me?’ Mariam would murmur into Aziza’s hair. ‘Huh? I am nobody, don’t you see? A dehati. What have I got to give you?’
But Aziza only muttered contentedly and dug her face in deeper. And when she did that, Mariam swooned. Her eyes watered. Her heart took flight. And she marveled at how, after all these years of rattling loose, she had found in this little creature the first true connection in her life of false, failed connections.”
-Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns
Miriam in A Thousand Splendid Suns has a heartbreaking story, but to her, being a mother was everything in the end.
Though she couldn’t have children of her own and suffered a number of miscarriages, she became an unlikely mother figure to the orphaned Laila, nursing her back to health until Mariam’s husband ultimately takes Laila as his second wife.
Laila gives Rasheed the baby Miriam can not, but she offers her support and helps Miriam become a mother. She helps raise the children and loves them as her own, taking desperate measures to protect them.
The love Miriam has for Laila and her children is beautiful, and the opportunity to be a mother to them all lets her live with no regrets.
7. Lily Potter from Harry Potter
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
Without Lilly Potter we wouldn’t have had Harry Potter.
Not just because she gave birth to Harry, but because she gave her life to protect her son from Voldemort.
She may not make many appearances in the series since she sadly dies before the books begin, but she is vital to the storyline and teaches us important lessons about the bond and love between mother and child.
8. Molly Weasley from Harry Potter
“Not my daughter, you bitch!”
-J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Mrs. Weasley is an iconic book mom. Quintessentially warm and maternal, she loves beyond measure, often taking Harry in and treating him as one of her own.
Molly is a superstar, raising seven children and being there for them to celebrate accomplishments and send howlers when they need tough love.
Though she is usually know for being a kind and caring character, her most iconic line from the series reminds us that she is a Gryffindor at heart and will fiercely defend her brood.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the different types of Mamas out there!
Be sure to show some extra love to the maternal figures in your life today .