We all have people in our lives that take care of us and make us feel special. For many, these people are their family. People depend on their families for support and love. Children depend on their families to help and protect them.
The members of our families can teach us about our values. They can help us understand what is right and wrong, and also help us decide what we believe. It is important to have healthy relationships with our families. This means we treat each other with respect.
Different Families is part of the “Our Values” series which is divided into three levels. Level One is comprised of titles for very young readers; Level Two is designed for elementary school students; and Level Three is for middle schoolers. Level Two books, of which this title is one, contain vibrant background colours, a large simple text font, and abundant full-colour photographs. People of different races and mixed race are featured in the photographs, fostering inclusivity among readers. A table of contents, a brief glossary and an index are included.
Different Families emphasizes that all families, no matter their composition, are normal. They can be single-parent or two-parent, same-sex, childless, inter-racial, step and/or blended, adoptive, extended and foster families, and family members do not necessarily have to live in the same house. Though the book is mostly about different kinds of families, the values of respect, supporting one another and working as a team or family unit are discussed.
Whether or not the books in this series will be useful in a classroom is debatable. On the plus side, kids will see themselves in the faces of the children in the photos, and the series’ concepts will reinforce what is being taught at home and in the classroom; on the negative side, class discussion and actually “living” the experiences featured in the titles will have far more impact than simply reading about them.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.