In the summer, I wrote an Ethnic Studies Unit for First Grade all about family! Then, I was lucky enough to teach it to my current first graders. At the end of the unit, my students and I came up with the following definition for family: “a group of people who take care of each other, celebrate their culture, and help the community”.

Through my research for the unit and my classroom, I have found some really amazing pieces of multicultural literature that embody that definition. So, for this Fast Five Friday, here are five multicultural books about family:

Five Multicultrual Books About Family

1. Ordinary Ohana, by Lee Cataluna

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit: Exploration

Ordinary Ohana by Lee Cataluna
I wish that this book came out when I was younger! This is one of my new favorite books because of the Native Hawaiian representation and also the depiction of ‘ohana as more than just the nuclear family.

Ordinary Ohana follows a little boy named Kainoa as he introduces all the members of his family. He talks about his family’s culture and Hawaiian family traditions. The illustrations by Cheyne Gallarde are also very endearing.

2. Mixed Me, by Taye Diggs

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit: Conversation; Exploration

Mixed Me by Taye DiggsMixed Me is also one of my favorite books because of its representation of a multiracial family (haha, you may be sensing my own cultural empowerment through multicultural literature). Taye Diggs actually wrote this book so that his own son, who is biracial, would feel represented and empowered.

The book is about Mixed Mike, who comes from a multiracial family. This book addresses some of the discrimination that multiracial people experience because Mike talks about how some people call him: “Mixed Up Mike”. It is a great book to explore diverse family compositions and standing up for your family identity.

3. Daddy Calls Me Man, by Angela Johnson

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit: Representation

51mCcu-yd+L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I actually experienced this book due to the writing curriculum I teach. Daddy Calls Me Man is a collection of mini-stories about a little Black boy’s family. He talks about each member of his family and what he likes to do with them. With my own class, I use this book to talk about family roles, which I define as both the identifying term (ex. uncle, cousin, dad, aunty) and how that person helps the family (ex. My dad cooks dinner for our family).

4. Abuela, by Arthur Dorros

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit: Exploration

Abuela by Arthur DorrosAbuela is a book about a little girl and her abuela, which the girl explains means “grandma” in Spanish. The little girl and her abuela go to the park and the story turns into an imaginary tale of the duo flying over different cities.

Dorros writes this book in mostly English, but includes some Spanish. He weaves in the Spanish so that non-Spanish readers can determine the meaning based on the context. Abuela explores the culture and history of the girl’s abuela and family.

5. Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale, by Sara Crutcher

The Spectrum for Multicultural Lit: Mostly Exploration

Heart Picked: Elizabeth's Adoption Tale, by Sara CrutcherIn Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale, Crutcher writes about Elizabeth, who was adopted into a family where her parents do not look like her. Elizabeth’s dad is invited to school for “Family Week”, but Elizabeth becomes worried about the fact that her dad does not look like her. By the end of the book, she learns that love is what makes a family. Crutcher wrote this book to help children have a positive and confident outlook on adoption.





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