Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman

Last week my 7-year-old, Harry, asked me if men could marry men. Actually, that's not true. He first told me that men couldn't kiss men and when I told him that was wrong, he asked if they could get married. Realising it was time he learned that all families aren't like our family, I bought a copy of The Great Big Book of Families (it was recommended by a friend).

It's a lovely book, but not quite as detailed as I was expecting it to be, so it worked as an introduction for the 2-year-old as well as for Harry. The book begins by explaining that 'Once upon a time most families in books looked like this..." with an illustration of a family with "one daddy, one mummy, one little boy, one little girl, one dog and one cat" and then goes on to explain that "in real life, families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes."

Included in the book are children who live with just their daddy or just their mummy, some who have two mummies or daddies, some who are adopted or fostered, some who live with grandparents. We then go on to look at extended families and how families can be big or small, different homes, hobbies, types of schooling and employment, different kinds of food, holidays, clothes and pets, different celebrations and feelings. All are accompanied by Roz Asquith's joyful illustrations, but each only has two pages so it is a very basic overview.

It's interesting and sweet and there's enough detail in the drawings to merit rereading with the 2-year-old, but probably not with Harry. I need to find more books featuring "alternative" families and perhaps aimed at the 6-9 age range. Anyone know of any?

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