Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

A Family Is a Family Is a Family

O'Leary, Sara (Author)
Leng, Qin (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2016. 32 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781554987948 (hardcover)
9781554987955 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

figurative language, point of view

Award

USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This warm depiction of family diversity shows the many unique ways it is possible to be cared for. Narrated by a student who feels particularly reluctant to share her family experience, thinking that it might not fit in with the others, she sits in a circle of desks as her multicultural classmates tell what makes their families special.

The voices of the children briefly describe multiracial and shared custody families, families with adopted siblings or parents with disabilities, single-parent and blended families, and families with two dads. The author often uses humorous observations about the quirks and personality traits of family members, rather than mentioning outer appearances, like the family with two moms who are “terrible singers. And they both like to sing really loud.”

Finally, the little girl feels brave enough to speak about her foster mother who, when asked to point out her real children, answered: “‘Oh, I don’t have any imaginary children,’ Mom said. ‘All my children are real.’”

The sweet, whimsical ink and watercolour illustrations depict how the children see their families, from a crowded kitchen scene chock full of kids to riding on a four-person bicycle. Lovely use of white space offsets the soft colours and sense of movement.

An inclusive and inspiring read about what it means to be loved in a family context.

  •  

    Discuss the title. What does that expression mean? Revisit this question after reading the text. Did your understanding change?

  •  

    How are the families in the book the same and different? Formulate a class definition of family.

  •  

    Why do you think the narrator in the story is reluctant to discuss her family? Discuss this both before and after reading.

  •  

    Make connections between the family compositions represented in the book and depictions of families in other class library books. Share examples with a partner, a group or the whole class.

  •  

    Browse the book, noticing how the families are represented in the illustrations. Make an illustration of your family in the same style. Assemble your illustrations to create a class book.

  •  

    Brainstorm types of family members (brother, aunt, stepmother, etc.). Make a class anchor chart.

  •  

    How are the families in the book the same and different? Write a class definition of family.

  •  

    Take a look at stories in your class library. Discuss the different styles of families you find. Describe them in this author’s style.

  •  

    Browse and notice how different families are represented in the illustrations. In the same style, make an illustration and write a description of your family. Assemble your illustrations into a class book.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • Citizenship and Community Life