December 8, 2011

Who’s in a Family?

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:00 am by pargoffa

Who’s in a Family?
By: Robert Skutch
Illustrations by: Laura Nienhaus
Tricycle Press, NY (1995).

 SUMMARY: The title Robert Skutch gave to his book, “Who’s in a Family,” is more than appropriate.  Skutch’s literary work coupled with Laura Nienhaus’ illustrations incorporates every type of family variation that may be possible. That is, only children, kids who live with a single parent,  kids who live with two parents of the same sex, children who live with a grandparent or aunt and uncle, children who have two families which insinuates a divorce or break up, kids who have pets, and those kids with siblings. The book also highlights different animal families such as lions who have several mothers, elephants that live together but separate from the opposite gender, and chimps who are raised solely by their mother. The books overall theme is that families are all different and regardless of which type of family a child comes from, all families love each other in the most unconditional way possible.

MY REVIEW: I firmly believe this book is crucial to have in every classroom. It not only features a variety of different ethnicities and cultures, it also features multiple types of families including individuals from the LGBTQ community, which is hard to find given it is such a controversial topic. Not only does this book feature two mothers much like in The Tale of Two Mommies, it also features two male partners who take turns making dinner for Robin, the daughter. Again in this book, the author and illustrator do a spectacular job at making sure that one gender role is not being favored over the other, and both partners have an equal responsibility. For example, Robin’s father appears to be setting the table while his partner cooks. In contrast, the female couple in the book is enjoying a nice day in the backyard with their two children and dog. I feel as this book can be extremely useful in the classroom when talking about family types. After reading the story, the author and illustrator have even provided a lesson one could conduct. They leave a page reserved for the reader to draw his or her family. Much like the cultural center we talked about in class, it may be beneficial to have each student’s family tree on display for the first few weeks. It will help students become more aware of the various types of families their fellow classmates posses because not every family is identical, whether it is because one student has four siblings and one has none, or where it is because one student has two dads and another has a dad and a mom. Even if a classroom is not very diverse in that it has a common theme amongst family make ups, this book highlights the differences in each family and is a way to expose those students who have not been exposed to certain make ups, such as families falling into the LGBTQ category.



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