Saturday, November 14, 2015

Text Set: Books that Celebrate Diversity of/within Families

I will be presenting at a roundtable session at next week's NCTE on Saturday morning (G.40 Equity, Social Justice, and Advocacy for Literacy, 211AB). My session is called "Reading Another Culture: Teaching Diversity without Reinforcing Stereotypes," and there are 10 other great presenters as part of the session.

As part of that session, I am putting together various text sets of picture books that teachers and parents can use to help introduce children to diverse characters and children around the world. The complete handouts from the talk will be available here.

This is the first in a series of posts that provides more details about each of the featured text sets. These are books that celebrate diversity of families and family structures, as well as books that feature diverse and/or multicultural families. Upcoming text sets include books to reinforce the idea that Africa is not a country and books that explore alternative points of view on exploration and colonization.

Books that Celebrate Diversity of/within Families

One Family (2015) by George Shannon and Blanca Gómez. This charming counting book is so much more. One is not just one, when it is a pair of shoes or a hand of cards. And one can be any number when it comes to "one family." This picture book is a celebration of families, in all their quirky uniqueness. The illustrated families include grandparents, mixed race couples, twins, single parents, young boys in Sikh turbans, gay couples, and so much more. This would be a great mentor text for a getting-to-know you activity, where each child could illustrate a page representing whatever number describes their "one family."

Stella Brings the Family (2015) by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown. Stella faces a dilemma: who can she invite to her school's Mother's Day outing when she doesn't have a mother? Papa, Daddy, and her classmates help her realize what really matters in a family and how to celebrate all the types of families there are.


My Family Tree and Me (2015) by Dušan Petričić. This is a great concept book on genealogy and the family tree. The book reads from both sides, with one side, front-to-middle, telling the story of the boy's father's family, while the other side, back-to-middle, telling the story of the boy's mother's family. There is also a clever conceit of each pair of parents having a picture hanging up of the previous generation. The text itself is completely generic (with the exception of the fact that the boy has aunts and uncles on both sides) and could be used with kids to put together their own versions. I also appreciate how this book celebrates multiracial and diverse families.

The Case for Loving: the fight for interracial marriage (2015) by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. This book represents a collaboration between the husband-and-wife team of Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. The story of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter and their fight for interracial marriage is presented very much from today's point-of-view but also offers children background about how this fight came to be. The author's note draws the natural connection between the history of this fight and the current battle for recognition of same sex marriages and also shares some of the authors' backstory as an interracial couple.

Heather Has Two Mommies (2015 ed.) by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Laura Cornell. Heather's favorite number is two, and the book uses her love of 2s to structure a story about her life and first day of school. This book is a great one for helping all students understand and embrace the broad range of what the term "family" truly means, and this new updated illustrations make the story more accessible to today's readers.

Children Just Like Me series (1995) by Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley. Children Just Like Me
 is the first book in a growing series of books by husband-and-wife photographers-and-writers Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley. In cooperation with UNICEF, they have traveled around the world interviewing and photographing children and their families. This book features one or two page spreads about individual children from different countries, including information about their hobbies, families, favorite foods, schools, hopes for the future, and much more. My students love learning about the kids and seeing a glimpse of their lives.

The Kindersleys have since branched out and created a whole series of books. Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! features holidays and celebrations around the world, organized seasonally. Again, information about each holiday is shared through the eyes of an individual child. Children Just Like Me: Our Favorite Stories is a collection of folktales from around the world. There are also continent specific versions of the books available, including Children of EuropeChildren of Africa and Neighboring Countries, and Children of the Americas.

Everybody Cooks Rice (1991) by Norah Dooley. My favorite first day of school read focuses on the people and cultures in one small neighborhood, highlighting the commonalities in the rice-based meals being prepared. There is also some socio-economic diversity highlighted, as the parents work a variety of jobs including long hours. This is part of a series of similarly-themed books by the author.

Do you have a favorite book that features a diversity of families? Please share in the comments below! For more text sets on diverse topics, please click here.


  1. I have read that third book. I will have to read the others too.
    I have pinned your post.
    Thanks for hosting KLBH!

  2. I LOVE Everybody Cooks Rice! I would love to get my hands on that Children Just Like Me Series. Good luck with your presentation. I'm sure your audience will appreciate this topic!

  3. What a great session! I wish I were going to NCTE and could hear it. I love The Case for Loving and Everybody Cooks Rice.

  4. Congrats on your presentation! A great selection of books.

  5. Congrats on going to NCTE. This is a fabulous selection of books. Thanks so much for sharing them.

  6. Such a lovely set of books! I would have liked to hear your presentation - I hope it went well. (Via #KLBH)

  7. Great diversity book list! Thanks for sharing at the #DiverseKid Lit linky!


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