families

Broadening our Definition of Family

Yesterday I saw that Sesame Street had introduced a new character to their show, Karli. Karli is a foster child and is being raised by Clem and Dalia. Then today I came across this article in The Atlantic about this new character.

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/05/sesame-street-created-foster-care-muppet/589756/?utm_content=edit-promo&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&utm_medium=social&utm_term=2019-05-20T13%3A00%3A27

I decided to dig deeper into the world of Sesame Street by visiting the Sesame Street in Communities website found here: https://sesamestreetincommunities.org What I found on this website was a wealth of resources ranging from homelessness to trauma to big feelings.

The new addition of Karli really resonates with me because I just wrote my first picture book All Families Invited which celebrates different types of families. By using less-limiting language and by broadening our definition of family, we can help all children feel like they belong. I also resonate with these new initiatives to talk about hard topics in a developmentally appropriate way that kids can understand. Whether it’s in a picture book or on a kids show, it’s important that children are able to see characters who look like them and this might mean in terms of ability, race, family composition, etc.

Thank you Sesame Street for surfacing topics that often adults don’t want to talk about but are so important to the well-being of children.

What we can learn from Children's Books

Some of you may not know this but I’m self-publishing my first children’s book this spring which celebrates different types of families. The world of children’s book authors, illustrators, and readers is a special one and I spent most of January checking out some great books. Below are some of my favorite children’s books that have special messages for all of us.

Moon by Alison Oliver- Moon is the story of a young girl who forgets what it’s like to be wild and free. She has a strict schedule of school, homework, music lessons, and tutoring. Her schedule resembles many students I work with. In this beautifully illustrated book, Moon meets Wolf who shows her how to be playful and spontaneous. This story reminds us all the simple pleasure of play and the amazing sense of freedom that can come from being present in the moment.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson- There are many reasons to feel different. This book reminds us that it’s hard to take that first (often vulnerable) step to let others get to know us.

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros- It can be hard for children to understand what happens to family members and other loved ones who are affected by dementia. This book helps to explain what happens to memories by using balloons as a metaphor.

Isle of You by David LaRochelle- Adults, teens, and children can all relate to needing a place that helps take your mind off of school, work, and other worries. This book combines creativity and guided imagery to take you to a special place when you are feeling sad, mad, or worried.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall- This book celebrates being true to yourself despite what others may think or say.

Support your local independent bookstore by checking out these great reads!