By: Carolyn Wissmiller, Youth Programming Associate
Ah . . . the 1950’s. The world was at peace (if you don’t count Korea and the Cold War), and every child was fortunate to live in a traditional family household. These perfect families, with a mother, a father, and an average of 1.5 children, were frequently celebrated on television. My personal favorites included Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, and the Donna Reed Show. But these shows were fiction, and so was the notion that all 1950’s families were traditional.
I met my best friend Melody in fourth grade when her family moved to our area. She told me that she and her mother lived in an apartment and that her father had abandoned them. I remembering being confused, and so I asked her what “abandoned” meant. I felt terrible when she explained in detail. I know her family situation made her feel different, and she worried that she might not be accepted, but she was brilliant, funny, kind, and gorgeous. We all loved her.
Fast forward to the new millennium, and, I’m happy to say, most of us are welcoming and accepting of all kinds of families. We choose our friends based on their characters and not their household situations. Celebrate all types of magnificent families during National Family Month (from Mother’s Day through Father’s Day) by checking out one of these books:
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang presents a series of framed animal portraits in dozens of combinations that represent and celebrate all kinds of non-traditional families.
In Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, Dot’s parents find a baby wolf on their doorstep and decide to raise him as their own. Dot is certain he will eat them all up until a surprising encounter with a bear brings them closer together.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell is based on the true story of two male penguins. Roy and Silo live at New York City’s Central Park Zoo. They fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches.
Ship of Dolls by Shirleyy Parenteau is about eleven-year-old Lexie Lewis, who is living with her strict grandparents in 1926 Portland. She longs to rejoin her mother in San Francisco, but Mama’s new husband doesn’t think a little girl should live with parents who work all night and sleep all day. Lexie’s class has been raising money to ship a doll to the children of Japan in a friendship exchange, and when Lexie learns that the girl who writes the best letter to accompany the doll will be sent to the farewell ceremony in San Francisco, she knows she just has to be the winner.
In All That’s Missing by Sarah Sullivan, Arlo secretly tries to provide for himself and a beloved grandfather who is succumbing to dementia. When he’s placed in the care of a social worker, Arlo runs away to find his only other family member.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy relates the adventures of a family with two fathers, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets as they make their way through a school year, Kindergarten through sixth grade, and deal with a grumpy new neighbor.