A Family is a Family is a Family

Written by: Sara O’Leary

Illustrated by: Qin Leng

For Ages: 4-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, Self-Acceptance, Foster Families, LGBT, Acceptance, Family Structure.

Summary: This book covers a multitude of family types when a teacher asks their class to describe who they live with.  The narrator is nervous, because their family “is not like everybody else”.  Families with lots of kids, two singing moms, lots of grandparents, families that look alike and not alike, shared custody, and interracial families are described.  The narrator listens to all of the different families in their class before reflecting on their own family.  The narrator remembers a time when at the park, someone asked their foster mother to “point out their real children” and their mother’s heartwarming response.

This book is very comprehensive in terms of family structure.  The illustrations are adorable and diverse.  The descriptions the children give are believable, and humorous.  This book would be a great addition to a classroom unit on family or community, or for the beginning of the school year when many students learn about each other’s home life.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you see your own family structure in this book?
  • Do you think it matters who is in a family more than how much love is in the family?
  • Can you think of any families you know that aren’t pictured in this book?  How do you think they feel?  Do their families show up in any other books you know?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • This book is perfect for several units prevalent in early childhood classrooms.  It is one of the most comprehensive books I have seen for young children, and also a great introduction to the differences between biological, adopted, and fostered children.
  • Have students talk about what is similar in their families to families in the book, and what is different.
  • Write a letter to a new student that might be feeling nervous because they feel like their family is “different”.  How can you make them feel more comfortable joining your class?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sara oleary

Sara O’Leary (she/her) is a writer of fiction for both adults and children. She is the author of the award-winning series of Henry books — When You Were Small, Where You Came From and When I Was Small — and This Is Sadie, all illustrated by Julie Morstad, and You Are One, illustrated by Karen Klassen. A graduate of the UBC Creative Writing Program, she has taught screenwriting and writing for children at Concordia University in Montreal.


qin leng
Qin Leng (she/her) lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the APALA Award for best picture book. Her most recent books include Away, written by Emil Sher, and A Family Is a Family Is a Family, written by Sara O’Leary, which was selected for USBBY’s Outstanding International Books List.

One Comment on “A Family is a Family is a Family

  1. Pingback: Day 9 of the May #smashingstereotypes Challenge! – The Tiny Activist

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