[Book Review] Families

Kay Marner reviews Families, by Susan Kuklin, a photo-essay celebration of the diversity of American families.

Cover of Families by Susan Kuklin

Hyperion; 2006; Ages 4-8

Buy Families on Amazon.com >

We’re a fun-loving, culturally mixed-up family. “Mixed is more fun,” says Osamu, the older son in a Japanese-American family. And mixed proves to be fun, indeed. From multicultural to multigenerational, from single parents to gay and lesbian parents, from children with special needs to children who were adopted, acclaimed photo-essayist Susan Kuklin celebrates the diversity of American families in her fun-to-read, fun-to-see new book, Families.

Kuklin’s photographs of 15 families could tell the stories on their own, but the book also offers a rich reading experience because the photos are complemented by the children’s descriptions of their own families.

“I knew I wanted to do a book about diversity in the American family,” Kuklin told me. “And when I began meeting families, I was delighted to find that many included an adopted child. Isn’t it interesting that three of these 15 families have adopted at least one child?” It is interesting. And it affirms the adoptive family’s comfortable, accepted niche in today’s world.

Although the publisher recommends this book for children ages four through eight, the audience easily extends through age 12. This is a great book to recommend or donate to your child’s school, teacher, or public library.

And, of course, it should be on our own bookshelves. After all, we know from experience: Mixed is more fun.

Reviewed by Kay Marner, a mother by birth and adoption. Kay works at the public library in Ames, Iowa.


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