I remember the very first book I purchased as a new school counselor. It was 2009 and I bought Enemy Pie by Derek Munson. I planned to use this book as bibliotherapy for my classroom guidance lessons on friendship. Over the course of that year and the ten years that followed, I stocked up on more children’s books that I could use to teach about certain topics- feelings, divorce, grief, bullying, acceptance, anxiety, self esteem, and so much more. I believe in the power of books as an outlet for children to relate to which is why I wrote All Families Invited.
That’s right! My very first children’s book comes out next week! All Families Invited celebrates different types of families. I read a fascinating article (https://ifstudies.org/blog/1-in-2-a-new-estimate-of-the-share-of-children-being-raised-by-married-parents) that said based upon 2016 data collected by a National Household Education Survey that only 50% of high school seniors live at home with married, birth parents. Of course, I’ve seen this shift in demographics in the ten years I worked as a school counselor and yet I am often surprised by the limiting language that is often used by schools such as “father-daughter” dances or “mother-son” breakfasts.
The premise behind my book is not to diminish the relationship between a father and daughter but rather to open the door for more inclusive language for children whose bonds are with someone other than “dad” or “mom.” Someone might ask, “so what’s the big deal? it’s just the name of a dance,” to which I would respond “yes, and if the name really isn’t important than why not change it something more inclusive?” I would guess that many schools who have designated dances as mentioned above would certainly be okay if a student whose family composition is different were to bring grandpa or a stepdad but what adults often fail to understand is that children are the ones left explaining their situation. “Are you bringing your dad to the dance next week?” asks one child. “No, I’m bringing my uncle,” responds another child. Developmentally children are curious right? Why is the favorite question a young child likes to ask so in this scenario imagine these are the why questions? “Why aren’t you bringing your dad?” “Why doesn’t your dad live with you?” “Why did your parents get divorced?”
I believe so much in the power of role models and for many children it is their mother and father but that’s not necessarily true for all children and as the above referenced study mentions just because a child lives at home with two married birth parents in second grade doesn’t mean that his family composition will be the same as a senior in high school. There are many reasons to account for the differences and it’s important for adults in school communities to be mindful of the changing family structures and work to create more inclusive language.
Where can you purchase my book?
It’s available online at Amazon AND if you have a favorite independent bookstore like I do, they should be able to order you a copy even if they don’t carry it on their shelves. Just ask!