by Pat Scales
Families are celebrated each June with the commemoration of National Family Month. This is a good time to help children and teens understand that there are all types of families. Many children and teens live with only one parent, or with two moms and two dads. Some live with grandparents or other relatives. There are stepfamilies, multigenerational families and foster families. There are wealthy families and those that struggle to put food on the table. Whatever the family unit, or socioeconomic level, it’s important that the young understand the characteristics of family. Here are suggestions to help them grasp the many meanings of family.
- Read aloud Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang & illus. by Max Lang to the youngest readers. Describe the different families in the book. Use our family tree activity with your storytime.
- After reading the book, ask readers to draw a picture of their family. Then allow them the opportunity to share their pictures with the class. Encourage them to share something they enjoy doing with their family.
- Display poetry anthologies and allow readers to work in small group to browse the books and find poems about family. Ask for volunteers to read aloud one of the poems.
- Have older readers write an acrostic poem using FAMILY as the spine word.
- Suggest that older readers write and perform a rap about their family, or a fictional family.
- Display books with various family units, and family challenges. Ask readers to select a title, and discuss the family in the book. Older readers may write an essay that compares the family in the novel to their own. Suggestions from Random House include:
Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco
Piggybook by Anthony Browne
Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman & illus. by Stephen Gammell
The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Who’s in a Family? by Robert Skutch
Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business by Barbara Park
Tooter Pepperday by Jerry Spinelli
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee Frazier
Child of the Mountain by Marilyn Sue Shank
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
The War with Grandpa by Robert K. Smith
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Tia Lola books by Julia Alvarez
True Colors by Natalie Kensey
The Penderwicks Series by Jeanne Birdsall
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis
Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peńa
Spoils by Tammar Stein
Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco
The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples