Everyone has a family, right? They come in all shapes and sizes and colors and styles, but a family is a family. When I look at a class of children in our library, I see 25 different ways of being in a family – kids whose parents work, kids who live with grandparents, kids whose families are caring for someone who is sick, kids who live with one parent, kids who have two mothers, and many others. There is no “one size fits all” way to be a family, just like there is no right answer to what kind of art is the best. I am intentional about selecting books for the library shelves, our curriculum and summer reading lists that reflect this universal truth. Books should reflect a child’s experience – but just as importantly, a good book affirms all kinds of experience.
If I could choose five books that celebrate all kinds of families and show children how many people fit under that big umbrella of the word “Family,” these are the books:
Who’s In My Family? All About Our Families by Robie Harris (Robie Harris is the author of many wonderful books for children about their families and their bodies. I recommend her books to parents almost every week. This new book features the whimsical illustrations of Nadine Bernard Westcott,)
All Kinds of Families by Mary Ann Hoberman (Hoberman points out that “families” are all around us: “Bottle caps, gingersnaps, buttons, or rings/You can makes families from all sorts of things.”)
The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman (Last week, a second grade student asked me for a book with “lots of details to look at.” This is the book I gave to her. Ross Asquith’s drawings of all kinds of families, holiday celebrations, houses and pets are joyfully presented.)
You and Me Together: Moms, Dads and Kids Around the World by Barbara Kerley (Regular readers of this blog know that I love Barbara Kerley’s picture books. This one features photographs of parents and children enjoying time together.)
The Family Book by Todd Parr (Todd Parr is awesome. All of his warm and colorful books celebrate variety and the many ways we are all alike.)
Next week is Inly’s book fair, and although I can’t select every book that Scholastic sends to us, I can make sure that we only sell the books that enrich our student’s lives – books that inform, make kids laugh, encourage creativity, and inspire kids to know themselves, their families, and their world.