A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows what classroom life is like and how a class can be like a family. Some sophisticated vocabulary, like "haven" and "peers."
Family "doesn't have to be who you're related to. It can be a special group who love and care for you." "You have our back and we have yours. We're a classroom family." "Our classroom is a special haven where it's okay to make mistakes." "We all have tough days sometimes but your teacher is here for you."
Positive Role Models
The teacher is kind, welcoming, understanding, and comforting. The individual students are kind, respectful, caring, and show empathy and compassion to one another. The class models inclusiveness.
The students are ethnically diverse, with a variety of skin tones and hair styles. One boy uses a wheelchair. A spread that talks about different family members mentions and pictures a stepmom and a stepdad.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shannon Olsen's Our Class Is a Family, illustrated by Sandie Sonke, shows how kids and teachers can make a classroom as warm and supportive as a family -- a place where folks are there for you when you need help. The unseen narrator addresses readers directly, laying out all the ways a classroom can be a place of security, growth, and fun, where everyone is valued and appreciated for their uniqueness. Sonke's cute, cartoony illustrations help drive home the message. The author, who spent 15 years as a second-grade teacher before writing Our Class Is a Family, also has a follow-up book, Our School Is a Family.
Is It Any Good?
This positive vision of classroom life drives home the idea that the folks you're thrown together with at school can be as nurturing and supportive as family. Our Class Is a Family urges kids to create a compassionate environment at school where everyone feels respected and valued. "We'll have things in common, these are connections that we'll seek," reads the text accompanying a picture of two boys who are both wearing a shirt with a planet on it. "But we'll still celebrate our differences and what makes us each unique," it says under a picture of two girls -- one with a paintbrush and artist's palette and the other holding a soccer ball. There's not a story to follow so much as an exploration of how a class can achieve a family vibe, where everyone has one another's back so all can thrive. Sandie Sonke's appealing, kid-friendly, cartoon-like illustrations help make every point easily understood.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.