Children from fourteen different families reflect kaleidoscopic diversity

families-susan-kuklin-hardcover-cover-artFamilies, by Susan Kuklin features frank, funny, touching, and often surprising interviews, children from fourteen different families talk about how they identify themselves as a family. The range of families profiled in this engaging book reflects the kaleidoscopic diversity of families in America today: there are mixed-race families and immigrant families; families of gay and lesbian couples and very religious families; families with only children, many children, adopted children, and children with special needs. This book is a celebration of all families, and provides young readers with windows into other lives, as well as mirrors in which they can see their own family relationships reflected.

School Library Journal said:

This book consists of interviews with the children from 15 different families, including mixed-race, immigrant, gay, lesbian, and divorced, as well as single parents and families for whom religion is a focal point. The children may be adopted, have special needs, be only children or have multiple siblings, and, of course, the characteristics frequently overlap. The interviews focus on the youngsters’ feelings about being part of their family: adults do not interfere. The voices are natural, and the children come across as individuals, not just representative of a particular lifestyle or ethnic group. According to an author’s note, Kuklin allowed her subjects to choose how they would be photographed, including the clothing worn and what family mementos would be shown. Working with those constraints, Kuklin has composed sharp and vibrant photos that capture the essence of each of them. This book will be both attractive to browsers and an excellent impetus for discussing relationships and diversity in America.

“Combining interviews and engaging color photos, Kuklin’s latest book shows the diversity of families in America,” according to Booklist. “Each of the 15 double-page spreads focuses on one family, illustrated by three photographs: a family portrait, a picture of the children, and a photo from the family’s own collection.”

The text consists of the children’s wide-ranging and occasionally disjointed comments about themselves, their siblings, their parents, and aspects of their lives such as religion, divorce, Down syndrome, and growing up in a biracial family. Readers may not want to pursue all this in one sitting, but each story is interesting. Eloise, adopted at a Chinese orphanage, wonders about her birth parents. Ella, who has two fathers, tells how her family dealt with “Moms Weekend” at her sleep-away camp. Joshua and his twin sisters, Ashley and Kati, talk about twinship, hobbies, and Korean elements in their daily lives. An attractive introduction to the ever-stretching definition of family.

Susan Kuklin is the award-winning author and photographer of more than thirty books for children and young adults that span social issues and culture. Her photographs have susan-kuklin-photo (1)appeared in Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times.

According to BookRags, “photojournalist Susan Kuklin follows her natural curiosity, her strong desire to promote social justice, and her fascination with people when embarking on each new project for children. She explains that her books take on a life of their own once the subjects get involved. “Sometimes the books seem to be writing themselves, taking me someplace extraordinary where I have never been before,” the New York City-based former schoolteacher told Authors and Artists for Young Adults (AAYA). Working as an author and illustrator of photo-essays for young children since the early-1980s–among her many books are Reaching for Dreams: A Ballet from Rehearsal to Opening Night, How My Family Lives in America, and Kodomo: Children of Japan, Kuklin has also written several topical nonfiction books for older teens that grapple with controversial subjects. These include the straight-talking Speaking Out: Teenagers Take on Race, Sex, and Identity, published in 1993.

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