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Families Text Set (Multimedia Bibliography)

Multimedia Bibliography: Families

by Angela Barratt

Introduction

I set out to create a bibliography for kids to learn about different types of families.  I soon found, however, that aside from picture books there is precious little out there (and even some picture book topics could use expansion).  I hope someday to see better resources for kids (and maybe even help create them?) but for now I have created a guide for adults (parents, teachers, librarians, etc.) to use when teaching children about families.  The bibliography is divided by family type; so if, for example, you are doing a week on adoption you could simply reference that section.  I have tried to be inclusive but it is sometimes difficult to define family types and there is not always good information about them.  The sections I have created are: General Family Diversity, Adoptive/Foster Families, Same-sex Parent Families,  Grandparents as Guardians, and Single Parents, Divorced and Blended Families.  The Web Intro of each section introduces the topic for the adult, while the other resources can be moderated by the adult for use with children.  The resources for kids are most appropriate for grades 1-5, though certain listings may not appeal to the oldest or youngest.

General Family Diversity

Web Intro

Provides an overview of many types of families, including statistics.

Discusses different forms families may take and makes suggestions as to how to talk to kids about them.  While aimed at parents, this is a very useful tool for educators as well.  Presents activities that could be done in the classroom or library.

Coloring Pages

  • Willhoite, Michael. 1991. Families: a coloring book. Boston, Mass: Alyson Wonderland.

There do not seem to exist coloring pages about diverse families online, but this somewhat elusive picture book seems like a great alternative.   It depicts traditional, modern, multi-generational and multi-cultural families as well as same-gender parents.  It was ahead of its time, and I am guessing that’s why it went out of print.  It is still available online through used book retailers for less than $10; my suggestion would be to make copies of the pages for use in the classroom or library.

Picture Books

  • Parr, Todd. 2003. The family book. New York: Little, Brown.

Brightly colored illustrations celebrates the fact that “there are lots of different ways to be a family.”  Depicts families with variations in size, color, parents (gender and number), noise level, eating habits and more but emphasizes that all are families and they still have a lot in common.

  • Moulton, Mark Kimball, and Karen Hillard Couch. 2000. One enchanted evening. Delafield, WI: Lang Books.

Queen Spider and Sir Fieldmouse fall in love at the Annual Midsummer Eve Dance.  The rhyming verse and charming illustrations ask: “why question the happiness true love doth bring?” This is not specifically about one of the types of families, but it does emphasize that love can surprise you and that real love can exist between very different people.

Song

  • Rule, Jim. 1994. “A family is what you make it” in Share this world. Lake Forest, CA: PNO Tuna.

Rule’s song celebrates family differences, stating that he used to believe a family was the stereotypical mom, dad and 2.3 kids but now realizes that that is not the only kind of family.  The album was well reviewed in SLJ: “add this one to your collection.”  Unfortunately unavailable through youtube or other free sites, but available for purchase as CD or digital download on Songs for Teaching website.

Video

• Chasnoff, Debra, Ariella J. Ben-Dov, and Fawn Yacker. 2000. That’s a family! San Francisco, Calif: Women’s Educational Media.

Kids talk about their families in this 35-minute documentary.  Stories include single-parent, mixed race, grandparent guardian and adoptive families as well as same-gender parents and divorced parents.  The online trailer would be great in class as well.  DVD available for purchase as institutional or individual; institutional comes with licenses, discussion and teaching guide.

Web Resource

• Nemours. “Feelings.” KidsHealth. Last modified 2011.

The “My Home and Family” section contains articles like “Living with a Single Parent,” “Living with Grandparents,” “Living with Stepparents,” “Being Adopted” and “Foster Families.” Not an exhaustive resource (contains nothing about same-sex parents), but very informative and reviewed by medical doctors and PhDs.  The articles are written so that any kid could read them, and provide an understanding overview of the topics.

Adoptive/Foster Families

Web Intro

• Hilborn, Robin. “Teacher’s Guide to Adoption.” Family Helper. Last modified January 23, 2009.

This website takes its motto seriously (“No fancy graphics, just solid information”), resulting in quite an ugly format.  The information and suggestions, however, are wonderful.  Valuable insights for teaching not only about adoption but also about family diversity in general.  Family Helper is not tied to any organizations and exists solely to provide information about adoption.

Picture Books

There are many great picture books about adoption, and several bibliographies exist online.   Some picture books to consider: The Red Thread (Grace Lin), Is That Your Sister? (Catherine and Sherry Bunin), We Belong Together (Todd Parr). You can use In Our Mothers’ House to talk about adoption as well (see Same-Sex Parent Families, below).

Film

• Sullivan, Kevin, Ian McDougall, Joe Wiesenfeld, Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth, Patricia Hamilton, et al. 2002. Anne of Green Gables. [Toronto]: Sullivan Entertainment.

This 1985 production based on the novel of the same name follows the life of Anne Shirley, a precocious young girl who has grown up in an orphanage and gets adopted by a brother and sister.  Anne’s escapades are hilarious to young and old.  This story shows how an accident can develop into a strong love between an unlikely family. (Not rated)

Same-Sex Parent Families

Web Intro

A short introduction to families with LGBT parents, including facts and research findings.

Picture Book

• Polacco, Patricia. 2009. In our mothers’ house. New York: Philomel Books.

Three adopted children of different races grow up with two mothers.  There house is full of love and warmth, and the family is presented matter-of-factly, accepting the family without needing to acknowledge its difference from other households.  There is one neighbor who creates some contention with her disapproval, but the mothers explain that she is fearful and does not understand their family.  Beautifully illustrates that this family is just like any other.

Play

• Freeman, Emily. And then came Tango. Music by Paul Marbach. 2011.

Inspired by the true story of Central Park penguins Roy and Silo, this play “weaves dance, storytelling, and live music with audience interaction” (tango.utexastya.org).  Lily goes to the zoo with her mom and meets Roy and Silo, male penguins who have formed a pair bond and go on to raise a chick together.  The play was written by a University of Texas MFA student and banned in Austin area schools.  The play’s website includes supplements like a free study guide.  Playwright Emily Freeman argues for families of all types: “Family is an entire colony of penguins, a young girl and her single mom, a zookeeper and the animals he tends, and two male penguins and their adopted egg. As these family structures are threatened in the play, we learn the power of voicing your opinions and standing up for your beliefs, no matter how old you are” (UT News. “Poignant Tale of a Remarkable Family Comes to the Stage.” News release. November 12, 2012).  Contact UT’s Theatre & Dance department for more information (theatreanddance@utexas.edu).

Video

• Brodsky, Ellen, and Peter Rhodes. 2011. What do you know? six to twelve year olds talk about gays and lesbians. [United States?]: Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

This video was created to educate elementary school teachers and parents about what children hear at school and how they would like teachers to respond.  DVD includes a facilitation guide.  I would recommend showing at least some of it to children, particularly the kids who talk about their same-gender parents.

Web Resource 

• “Story Wall.” Colage. Last modified 2012.

Kids of LGBTQ parents share their stories via youtube videos.  Excellent for showing that these kids are just regular kids.

Grandparents as Guardians

Web Intro

• Tremblay, K.R., Jr., C.E. Barber, and L. Kubin. “Grandparents: As Parents.” Colorado State University Extension. Last modified October 11, 2012.

Provides statistics, information and web resources about Grandparents raising children. Some Colorado-specific information, but overall a great resource.

Picture Book

• Hickman, Martha Whitmore, and Tim Hinton. 1995. Robert lives with his grandparents. Morton Grove, Ill: A. Whitman.

Robert’s mother is no longer able to take care of him (she is incapacitated by drug use), so he moves in with his grandparents.  He likes living there, but he is embarrassed to tell his friends at school.  On Parent’s Day, he finds out that he is not the only one in his class who doesn’t live with two parents, and learns that other people value his grandparents too.  Robert’s distance from his mother’s plight and the stiffness of the story and illustrations make this book less than ideal, but I think it’s the best in the very small grandparents-raising-grandchildren niche.

Single Parents, Divorced and Blended Families 

Web Intro

  • Facts and FAQs.” National Stepfamily Resource Center. Last modified 2012.

Includes subpages: Stepfamily Fact Sheet, Common Stepfamily Myths and Frequently Asked Questions.  Describes statistics about stepfamilies, explains what a stepfamily can be, and dispels myths about stepfamilies.

Picture Book

• Hoffman, Mary, and Caroline Binch. 1995. Boundless Grace. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.

Grace’s parents are divorced.  She lives with her mother and grandmother in England, but her father moved to Africa before she could remember and now has a new family.  She feels that her family isn’t right because “in her school reading books Grace saw that all the families had a mother and a father, a boy and a girl, and a dog and a cat.”  But when her father sends her a plane ticket to come visit him, Grace learns that her Nana’s words are true: “Families are what you make them.”

Film

• Gosnell, Raja, Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, Rip Torn, Linda Hunt, Jerry O’Connell, Theo Van de Sande, Christophe Beck, Melville Shavelson, and Mort Lachman. 2006. Yours, mine & ours. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.

Although this 2006 remake of the 1968 classic was lacking in positive reviews, I think it would appeal more to children than the old one.  While most blended families are not so huge, this movie does a good job exploring some of the points of contention when families are united, and eventually celebrating the differences of the members. There are also some children who were internationally adopted on one side. (Rated PG)

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