From Unit Plan: We Are Family

Families are the first "group" to which children belong. Many students don't fit into the kind of families that are typically and displayed in books and media. It's important for children to see the diversity of their own family and others reflected in the books they read and are available in the classroom library. In this book list, I've included books about human and animal families that teach about relationships and social skills. There are also books about quilts, memories, and November themes.

Books About Human and Animal Families

Bernard's Bath
by Joan Elizabeth Goodman; illustrated by Dominic Catalano

A little elephant who doesn't want to take a bath is shown how fun it is by his parents and grandparent.

Classroom Tip: Make a graph with students of which they prefer: shower or bath.

A Chair for My Mother or Un Sillón Para Mi Mamá
by Vera B. Williams

A family saves enough money to buy a beautiful easy chair after a fire destroys all their furniture.

Classroom Tip: Ask students to draw something their family saves money to buy (or what they'd like to buy) that they could all enjoy.

Copy Me, Copycub
by Richard Edwards; illustrated by Susan Winter

Through spring, summer, and autumn, a little bear cub follows his mother in the forest.

Classroom Tip: Discuss how seasons change and how some animals hibernate.

by Ann Morris

This book of beautiful photographs depicts families from all over the world, showing how they're different and alike.

Classroom Tip: Make a bulletin board collage of family photographs students bring from home.

Families Are Different: Big Book & Teaching Guide
by Nina Pellegrini

An adopted girl learns that some children live with one parent, two parents, or grandparents, and that some children have stepsiblings and parents who look different from one another.

Classroom Tip: Make a Families web, listing the various families in the book and others.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
by Jim Aylesworth; illustrated by Barbara McClintock

The classic tale of a curious little girl who visits the home of a family of bears

Classroom Tip: Have students draw the number of chairs, bowls, and beds they would need for each member of their family to build one-to-one correspondence knowledge.

Is Your Mama a Llama? Big Book & Teaching Guide or ¿Tu Mamá es una llama?
by Deborah Guarino; illustrated by Steven Kellogg

A baby llama guesses along with the listener what kind of animal everyone's mama is in a story that builds phonemic awareness and rhyme.

Classroom Tip: Play a guessing game, taking turns describing the characteristics of an animal's mama.

Love You Forever or Siempre te Querré
by Robert Munsch; illustrated by Sheila McGraw

This book shows the enduring nature of a parent's love as a boy goes through the stages of childhood to become a man.

Classroom Tip: Have children draw a picture of something they do with their grandparent or older relative and write about it.

Mama, Do You Love Me?
by Barbara M. Joosse; illustrated by Barbara Lavallee

A child living in the Arctic tests the limits of her independence and learns that a parent's love is unconditional.

Classroom Tip: Discuss how native arctic people generally don't like the term "Eskimos." There are many different tribes, including "Inuit."

No Matter What
by Debi Gliori

A little fox (Small) seeks assurance that his parent (Large) will always provide love, no matter what.

Classroom Tip: Generate a creative list of other things Small could be when asking if Large would still provide love.

Owl Babies
by Martin Waddell; illustrated by Patrick Benson

Three owl babies try to stay calm as they await the return of their mother.

Classroom Tip: Discuss how students may be afraid their family won't pick them up when they're at school, but like in the story, their parents do return.

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born
by Jamie Lee Curtis; illustrated by Laura Cornell

A young girl asks her parents to tell her again the story of her birth and adoption.

Classroom Tip: For homework, have children ask their parent to tell them the story about the night they were born. Have them draw a picture and share in class their retelling of the story.

Two Homes
by Claire Masurel; illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

A young boy whose parents live apart lives with both of them at different times and feels their love.

Classroom Tip: Discuss what it must be like for Alex (and other children) to have parents that live apart.

Who's in a Family?
by Robert Skutch; illustrated by Laura Nienhaus

This book shows a variety of diverse families and compares them with families in the animal kingdom.

Classroom Tip: Ask students if they see a family similar to theirs depicted in the story.

Books About Quilts

The Keeping Quilt
by Patricia Polacco

A story about a quilt made from the clothing of an immigrant Jewish family.

Classroom Tip: Have students bring in old fabric scraps to make a class quilt.

The Quilt Story
by Tony Johnston; illustrated by Tomie dePaola

A young girl discovers a quilt made long ago by her mother.

Classroom Tip: Discuss the things that are passed on to them by our parents or grandparents.

Books About Memories

Marianthe's Story: Painted Words and Marianthe's Story: Spoken Memories
by Aliki

A girl new to this country tells of her family's journey through pictures until she learns the language to use words.

Classroom Tip: Share how students can tell stories through pictures as they learn to write letters and words.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
by Mem Fox; illustrated by Julie Vivas

A young boy helps an older person recover her memory with small objects he has collected.

Classroom Tip: Talk with the children about what a memory is and how some older people get a disease called Alzheimer's.

Books for November Celebrations

25 Just-Right Plays for Emergent Readers
by Carol Pugliano-Martin

Predictable language, rhymes, and repetition help students build reading and oral-language skills with plays that include Thanksgiving and other celebrations.

Classroom Tip: These plays help students become better readers while building confidence in a fun way. We like to invite other classes to see our performances.

Fresh & Fun: Thanksgiving
by Kathleen M. Hollenbeck

This teacher resource book spans the curriculum in math, reading, writing, social studies, and art with Measure the Mayflower, Pilgrim Postcards, Dry 'n' Nibble Harvest Necklaces, Trading Post Math, Thank You Placemats, and more.

Classroom Tip: I've found lots of fun activities that students enjoy during centers at our Family Thanks Day.

Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey or Gracias, el Pavo de Thanksgiving
by Joy Crowley

A young Puerto Rican boy saves the life of his pet turkey with help from his supportive New York City family and neighborhood.

Classroom Tip: Make handprint turkeys by painting the thumb brown and the fingers orange and yellow. Cut them out and encourage children to retell the story.

Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks (Julie Andrews Collection)
by John Bucchino

This gentle song is sung by Art Garfunkel on an accompanying CD. It's a celebration of the beauty of the seasons, the wonder of nature, and the meaning of being thankful for all the things around us.

Classroom Tip: Have students draw and watercolor the things of the earth for which they're thankful to make a bulletin board display.

The Story of Thanksgiving
by Nancy J. Skarmeas and Stacy Venturi-Pickett

With simple text and pictures, this story tells how the pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom and how the Native Americans taught them to plant and then joined them in a Thanksgiving feast.

Classroom Tip: After a couple readings, sit with the children in a circle and have each child retell a part of the story.

by David F. Marx

Introduces the history, customs, and meaning of Thanksgiving.

Classroom Tip: Have children draw and tell and write about a Thanksgiving custom.