Celebrating diverse families
Monday 20 September 2021
As a teacher, I am incredibly proud to work in a school that celebrates diversity of all kinds: everyone knows that no two children are the same, and no two families are the same either, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Each year we participate in ‘school diversity week’ to really promote and celebrate our mantra of “different family: same love”, and the levels of understanding and acceptance this approach nurtures are deep-rooted in all that we do. Single parent families, step-families, kinship carer families, foster families, same sex parent families and adoptive families are all celebrated for the love they provide, and many children realise that they are not alone in their ‘non-conventional’ family set up; and I think sharing my own family set-up (two children and two dads) really helps strike home that ‘different’ families are all around us.
Here are some of my favourite books to help promote discussion around ‘different family; same love’ - I would love to hear any other recommendations too, so please throw them my way via Twitter! @pkirbybowstead
‘And Tango Makes Three’ by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
What makes this one of my favourites is that it is based on a true story
! Roy and Silo (two chinstrap penguins in Central Park Zoo) fall in love but realise that - unlike the other penguin couples - they don’t have an egg of their own. That is until the zookeeper finds an egg that needs to be cared for, and entrusts it to them. The chick that hatches is named ‘Tango’, and she becomes the first animal in the zoo to have two dads - much to the support of the zoo’s visitors.
‘Heather Has Two Mummies’ by Leslea Newman and Laura Cornel
What I love about this one is how the children in Heather’s class all come to realise that each and every one of their families is different - not just Heather’s. It also lends itself really well to a lovely drawing activity afterwards, just like Heather and her friends do!
‘A Family is a Family is a Family’ by Sara O’Leary
This has to be my most favourite of all: each page includes a quote from a child beside an illustration of their family, showing a fully diverse collection of various family set-ups - and a really unique perspective on the children’s views! Some of my favourite lines include one child stating that ‘before I was born I grew in my mum’s heart’, and another who decides that babies are ordered via online shopping! It’s an incredibly relatable read for both children and adults alike.
Both in the classroom and at home, stories are such a brilliant way of exploring topics and generating discussion - I hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as we have!