Monday, May 20, 2019

Book Nook: All Families Invited

I recently had a chance to review a copy of All Families Invited  by school and family counselor Kathleen Goodman. The book is an inspiring story about eight-year-old Annabel, who is disappointed that the school's upcoming father-daughter dance excludes people. Although she initially meets with resistance to change, it has a satisfying ending that helps the school celebrate all families, no matter who is in them.

“I want readers to understand that by being more inclusive and by changing ‘Father Daughter Dance’ to ‘Family Fall Fest,’ nothing is diminished,” says Goodman. “Fathers and daughters can still celebrate their bond with a special event, and the door is opened to other children to celebrate bonds with other family members who may or may not be ‘dad.’”

I had a chance to interview her to learn more.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I wrote this book because I wanted to celebrate different types of families. I spent ten years working as a school counselor and often when asked "who lives at home with you?" the answer was more frequently than not a combination of different caregivers such as two dads, mom and grandmom, aunt and uncle, etc. I wanted to write a book that broadens our definition of family.

Why is it so important for educators to be aware of how they may be unintentionally excluding certain family types? 
Children want to feel accepted and included. By broadening the definition of family and using less-limiting language, educators can help all children feel a sense of belonging.

How can families advocate for adapting traditions to keep what people love abut them while also making them more inclusive? 
It's not about diminishing the father-daughter bond but rather opening the door for other children to celebrate their special bonds with people who may not necessarily be "mom" or "dad." In my book, Family Fall Fest is a more inclusive title. I've also heard of schools adapting their dances to something called "Small, Tall Ball" so children have a choice of which special person they'd like to bring. 

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