8 by Eight
8 books about celebrating families
First, we have three adoption-focused books. Real Sisters Pretend is about two sisters processing an unhelpful comment at the store; "are you real sisters?" The sisters are playing pretend, but they don't have to pretend to be sisters. They understand adoption. They are real sisters. In A Mother for Choco, Choco is in search of a mother. He meets various animals along the way, who say they can't be his mother, because they don't look like him. Sad, Choco cries, and Mrs. Bear comes to the rescue. She hugs Choco, gives him a kiss, and sings with him. She can be his mother. It doesn't matter that she doesn't look like him -- or any of her other children! Finally, in Little Cub, Little Cub and Old Bear are both alone, and each one needs someone to take care of them. Fortunately, they meet one day in the forest and decide to belong to each other.
All the World is a favorite because it showcases lots of different families. The text is sparse an poetic, but look for different family units, especially in the crowd scenes. Similarly, One Family, emphasizes the family unit through the repetition of the phrase "One is," but what "one is" changes. One is one. One is two. One is three, all the way to One is ten, celebrating families small and large.
Mommy, Mama, and Me is a board book by Leslea Newman (author of Heather Has Two Mommies). She has a complementary title for Daddy, Papa, and Me. Mommy and Mama each help the little one throughout the day from eating to playing to bathtime, and both "Mommy and Mama kiss me goodnight." Stella Brings the Family is about a school-aged girl who is a little perplexed when she discovers that her class will be hosting a Mother's Day celebration. She doesn't have a mother, although she does have lots of people in her life who love her. What to do? Like the title indicates, Stella brings the family.
Finally, In Plain Sight is one of my favorite recommendations, because it offers excellent advice for engaging kids and grandparents. This book is subtle and it took me a couple of reads to really understand the significance, but when I fully understood the story, I was absolutely enchanted. Sophie lives with her mother, father, and grandfather. When she comes home from school, grandpa asks her to help him find something simple, like a rubber band, that turns out to be "in plain sight." Astute readers will play close attention to the illustrations and notice that each item is attached to a momento that holds significance for grandpa, a football or a photo. The momentos offer opportunities for Sophie to hear stories about her grandfather and for him to share his life with her. Families who read this book together will be inspired to look around their own homes and tell stories about objects of importance.
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