The book I’ve chosen to highlight today for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday is a departure from my usual book choices focusing on some aspect of the arts. Instead, with Freedom to Marry Day coming up next week (this year on February 14th, coinciding with Valentine’s Day), I’m looking at something that more and more children are experiencing, families led by same-sex parents. This book deals sensitively and wisely with the subject and it is a joy to me to share this book with you. I realize this is a contentious issue for some, but I believe it is an important one.
Title: Molly’s Family
Author: Nancy Garden
Illustrator: Sharon Wooding
Publisher: New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004.
Genre: Picture book, fiction
Audience Age: 5 – 8
Theme: same-sex marriage, families, differences in families, tolerance, similarities in families, love is love and families are families
Opening Sentences: “Friday is Open School Night,” said Ms. Marston, Molly’s kindergarten teacher. “Everyone’s family is invited to come and visit. What can we do to make our room look nice?”
Synopsis: Some of the children, including Molly, decide to draw pictures of their families to decorate the classroom for Open School Night. When Molly draws herself, her Mommy and her Mama Lu, her problems begin. One of the children says her type of family isn’t valid. “Molly says she has a mommy and a mama,” said Tommy. “But you can’t have a mommy and a mama. Can you?” Although the teacher handles this question very well, Tommy – and now Molly, because of Tommy’s words – are still in doubt. Molly’s parents tell her about how they decided they had enough love to share with a baby, and so Mommy had Molly, and Mama Lu adopted her. Molly is still in doubt until she looks at the other pictures of families, some without Daddies, some without Mommies, some with extra people, and recites to herself the story that Mommy and Mama Lu have told her.
Activities/Resources: There are many resources on same-sex marriage (elementary, middle school and high school) at Safe Schools Coalition. Rainbow Rumpus is an online magazine for children in families with LGBT parents (recommended on the website of Molly’s Family author, Nancy Garden). On her website, Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich-Smith has featured Nancy Garden in an interview that includes resource links.
To read a more extensive review of this book, as well as another on the same topic, visit this post on my previous blog: Alternate Family-Styles in Picture Books.
Availability: In print and readily available in hardcover.