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The book “Our Class is a Family” by Shannon Olsen and illustrated by Sandie Sonke tries to demonstrate the importance of building classroom community and being inclusive of all students no matter their race or abilities. While I think this is a beautiful book that has a lot of positives and opportunities for discussion it leaves some things out. I think the story is really about modern-day American students from privileged neighborhoods. I think this because students seem to be wearing nice modern-day clothing, are put together, and have access to a school with many resources. It also mentions housing as being part of a family but fails to mention some students don’t come from or have nice homes. The book is also only available in English leaving out students who aren’t too familiar with the language. However, I think that itself could be a good learning activity for ESL or bilingual students and forming the story in their native languages. I think the illustration of the students are also representative of American features. They all have almond shaped eyes and button noses except for the teacher. It seems they just changed the skin colors and hair types for the student drawings. I think they also leave out students of different cultures. Like I mentioned earlier all the students are wearing modern-day American clothing, there’s no representation for students of different cultures and backgrounds that might wear different clothing such as hijabs or kippahs, despite the text implying inclusivity. I think that could be an excellent opportunity for discussion in the classroom about who and why certain people were left out. I think the story overall shows that students are valued if they are more representative of modern-day American culture. I think it also shows the idea of Americanization that is so prevalent in the U.S education system. This means being fluent in English and dressing like the rest of society. I think it also could’ve been more representative of more children with disabilities. I think when most people think of disabilities, they jump straight to someone in a wheelchair but there’s more disabilities out there that I think kids should learn and be more aware of. The child in the wheelchair is highlighted when the text mentions respecting one another but doesn’t elaborate how children can do that especially regarding students with varying abilities. I do like that at the beginning it represented both biological parents and stepparents as students with mixed families is normal. However, it didn’t show same sex parents or adoptees. One could argue the sentence “family doesn’t have to be who your related to” includes adoptees but I think that was included more to emphasis the point of the book that students in the classroom although not related are still considered family. Overall, I think this is a book that could use more representation but has a great start towards being more inclusive in the classroom. Finally, I think it could be great to have open discussion about inclusivity and diversity with our students.
Very cute story for the littles going through this pandemic and trying to understand why we wear masks, but there was a book published right in the middle of the story (Donald Don't Touch that Pussy) and there is no way to tear or take it out. Update: amazon got back to me and made things right. Very pleased, changing the rating.
Great story about an inclusive classroom. Wish the definition of “family” had been broadened beyond “a mom and a dad” or a “step mom and step-dad” or “grandma” — feels like a missed opportunity to include same-sex parents in a story that feels like it’s meant to be inclusive. Also, wish that the teacher hadn’t been white in a classroom full of kids of color. Representation of kids of color is great and my son is always thrilled to see kids who look like him in books, but we have several books where kids of color are included, and the teacher is always white. Still a great story though.
Love, love, love this book and am looking forward to using it in my 2nd grade classroom. Only complaint is it arrived super bent up and damaged. It was shipped in a soft mailer and bent in the mailbox when I opened it (looks like it got abused quite a bit before that too).