Every Family is Unique

Stella Brings the Familyhttps://www.amazon.com/Stella-Brings-Family-Miriam-Schiffer/dp/1452111901/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496321058&sr=1-1&keywords=stella+brings+the+family

Stella Brings the Family written by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown features a little girl facing a dilemma: she has no mommy to bring to the school  Mother’s Day celebration.  Stella has two fathers but no mommy. When her classmates notice that Stella is feeling down, they ask her. “What is wrong?” Stella shares her problem. Her classmates respond with many questions that focus on who fulfills the traditional “mothering” tasks for her. Stella tells them how  her parents nurture her showing that it is not who does the loving that is important. It’s that someone is there to love the child wholeheartedly.

Stella’s classmates see beyond her perception of the problem and they ask since her dads are supporting her like a mother, why not have them come to the festivities? Heck, you could even bring her aunt, uncle and cousin who are also an important part of Stella’s family. Stella embraces their suggestion.

On the day of the school celebration the families arrive. Readers will discover that there are many kinds of families within the small group: single parents, grandparent-parents, two moms and two dads. The families are depicted without a lot of fanfare. Their variety and differences is not the point, the way families support one another is.

One of the subtle plot lines of the story is the empathy and sensitivity which Stella’s classmates demonstrate. They are so in tune with her that they are able to notice she is distressed. They not only notice, they take action and ask her about it. This models important EQ (emotional Intelligence) skills and offer another important discussion thread when reading this book.

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Stella Brings the Family  offers an obvious path to discussing adoption because Stella has two dads. She most likely has been adopted by one or both of her dads. Similarly, one of the other families depicted features two moms who also happen to be racially diverse. It is certainly possible to wonder about some of the other children as well. Simply because they look like they “match” does not rue out the possibility that they might have been adopted. When we look at a child, you can’t identify if they were adopted; there’s not tattoo or brand that marks them visibly. This thought can be expanded into discussions about assumptions–on the appropriate level– and how our guesses (assumptions) about situations can be way off the mark. It’s important to teach children this concept early and to reinforce it often.

 

 Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is books featuring multiethnic families and/or biracial main characters. Sometimes a focus on diversity can feel like forcing people into boxes. Let’s celebrate the diversity that can be found within a single person or household! (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

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4 comments

  1. Jane @ Raincity Librarian says:

    I love Stella Brings the Family, such a wonderful celebration of a loving family that just happens to have two daddies! It’s also an important reminder for those of us who work with children to be aware of our assumptions – mother’s day and other holidays might mean different things to children based on their families, backgrounds and experiences, and we should be sensitive to those different experiences and make sure we are open to them. 🙂

    • gswift says:

      Jane, I agree! I also like the model that Stella’s classmates set: they notice Stella feels troubled and they take the initiative to discover how they can help. What a great way to teach empathy! I believe empathy is one of our best tools to resist prejudice.

    • gswift says:

      Yes, Rebekah, it has a good story line and lots of potential discussion points. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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