My Mom Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me

Common Sense Media says

Sweet tale of multicultural moms has message of acceptance.





What parents need to know

Educational value

My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me offers opportunity to discuss how people get here from other countries and what it means to be a foreigner with different customs. Kids can also learn words for mother, special nicknames, and ways to say "I love you" in other languages. The book has a page for matching symbols with the names of a few special holidays and festivals from around the world. 

Positive messages

We may all be different in some ways, but in important ways we are the same. No matter where your mom is from, and how different she may be, she's the one person who loves you the best. 

Positive role models

All of the moms and kids look happy and loving, and they are accepting of each other even though they notice one another's differences. Each kid loves his  or her mother the best in spite of the strange, embarrassing things she does.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

None of the language is inappropriate in any way. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents should know that My Mom Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me by Julianne Moore is one of a handful of books written for young kids about multicultural family relationships. In this story, immigrant moms talk and dress differently, use strange words, etc., and kids find some of those things embarrassing. From an assortment of countries, all these moms are a bit different, yet they are all the same when it comes to doing all the special mom-things. When different kids speak, their words are shown in different fonts, and that is confusing at first reading, but once readers get that, the book comes alive. And, the overriding lesson is one of love and acceptance. 

What's the story?

MY MOM IS A FOREIGNER, BUT NOT TO ME interweaves the voices of various children to explain how they feel about their mothers who have come from an assortment of countries other than the United States. Kids say their foreign-born moms look different, talk a little funny, cook strange foods, and have expectations that are a bit unusual. But, they also listen, sing, laugh and hug in their special ways. And that is what makes each of them "the best."

Is it any good?


The sentiment is sweet and loving, and Meilo So's vivid watercolor-and-ink illustrations add a pleasant softness and vivid ethnic beauty to the narrative. When read aloud slowly, with time taken to look closely at the pictures, the gentle message accurately captures the tug kids of immigrant parents must feel as they adjust to the world around them. Author Julianne Moore is talking here from her own experience, so she should know. However, on first read, knowing who is speaking is a bit confusing. Different fonts are used to indicate different children and none of them is ever really identified or matched together. Also, the rhyming verse is awkward and strained at times, and that detracts from the story.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be an immigrant, or a foreigner, and the different countries represented in this book. Do you know people from any of these countries? Are they immigrants? How can you tell? How are they different? How are they the same?



  • The author uses different fonts to show that different people are speaking. Did you find that confusing, or did you get it at the start? What does it show about being different and being the same?


  • Look at the festival page and try to match the symbols with the celebration. The answers are inside the front page.

Book details

Author:Julianne Moore
Illustrator:Meilo So
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Friendship, Holidays
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Chronicle Books
Publication date:August 27, 1013
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):5 - 8
Read aloud:5
Read alone:6
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Paperback

This review of My Mom Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass