Molly’s Family — Perfect Picture Book Friday
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.
# 13 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”
I just read my first book by Nancy Garden a week ago. A YA novel called “Annie on my Mind”… it was superb and I am sure Molly’s Family is as well written. I am glad we are seeing a slow increase in good picture books like this with gay parents and all other forms of families. Great choice, Beth, with Freedom to Marry day next week!
I must look for “Annie on my Mind”, Joanna. Thank you. I so appreciated that Nancy Garden dealt with the questions children might have without becoming preachy or didactic. I’ve also found books that show a child in some ordinary situation, who just happens to have parents who are both of the same sex, and the book shows that those parents respond to the needs of the child just like opposite-sex parents would. I think both sorts of books are valuable, and like you, I’m glad to see an increase in their number.
I am so glad to see another picture book on this important topic. We have only 2 on our list so far, and I think it’s very important for children to understand that it’s not the composition of the family that matters, it’s the love. For people who need books like this to help their own children understand that their family is just as valid as any other, it’s necessary to have many books on the topic, just as there are many books on separation or new babies or losing a tooth, because not every book is the right one for every child and there needs to be choice. This one looks excellent and I will look forward to reading it. Thanks so much for sharing!
Your points are so very spot-on, Susanna. Thank you!
We don’t have books on same-sex parents enough. Thanks for sharing this book, Beth!
Thanks, Claudine! This is such an excellent book.
Thanks for sharing this one, Beth. It’s a reminder of how important it is to teach kids from a young age about diverse families and lifestyles – but showing them the common connection of love. It’s also a very meaningful post to me right now, as I head in a few days to a country where homosexuality is not only socially unacceptable – it’s against the law with severe consequences.
And, I was not aware of Freedom to Marry day, so that is something I may research more. Thanks again for sharing this book with us.
Thanks, Miranda. It’s eye-opening to think of the differences in culture. Makes me even more grateful to live where I do!
A great pick. I’ve enjoyed the other books on this topic and will have to find this one too. it also is a great reminder for me about all the topic teachers must deal with in the classroom.
Thanks, Stacy. Yes, teachers have to deal with so much these days!
Nice selection with Freedom to Marry Day next week. We need more of these kinds of books on our list. Am familiar with Nancy Garden, so this really must be a good book. I like the picture idea, because it helps Molly realize there are many different kinds of family in her own class. Great choice.
Thanks, Pat. This is the only book I’ve read by Nancy Garden — I must read more! It is excellent.
Your choice seem like it would be a wonderful one for introducing the different types of family in today’s society. Also, helping kids who are wondering or have questions about families that are not like their own. Thanks for the review Beth!
Yes, it’s good for kids coming at the topic from both sides, wanting books that show families like their own, or wanting to understand another kid’s family.
Gosh we only have two books in this genre!….. I must look up some in my libraries. I know I have seen them. Gay couples is very much accepted here, children learn very early like everything else, race or religion, it is a natural way of life. I loved that Molly was able to see how other families are also different in their own way. Nice choice Beth.
New Zealand sounds very far ahead in its thinking, Diane. That is so good — I hope other nations follow its lead.
Great choice Beth. When my daughter was in nursery school there were twins with two dads. We used picture books to help explain to her that families are all different but that a family is a family. What a great resource.
Thanks, Tracy. I’m glad you were able to explain to your daughter by using picture books. Aren’t picture books great?
Thanks for sharing this great resource! Strangely (since we are in California) we haven’t encountered the full spectrum of family, but when we do, I now have a picture book I can turn to.
Thanks, Kirsten. Yes, when the time comes, this book will be an excellent one to use.
I think it is important to have kids know that families can be different but still love each other and still be a family. Great pick!
Thanks Erik. I think it’s important, too.
Wonderful choice, Beth. Discrimination and bigotry is a learned behavior and I’m glad to see books like this out in the world. Love is love.
Thanks, Heather. This book is so well done, and gives an important message without being at all preachy.
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