A Family is a Family is a Family: A Book Review


It was one of her first art projects at her new school in first grade. She was told to draw a picture of her family and then explain who each person was to her classmates. When her assignment came home I asked about her picture; a beautiful pencil and crayon drawing of a mom, dad and girl standing next to a brown house. We lived in a brown house. 


She was quiet as she responded, “that’s you, that’s my dad, and that’s me.” I told her it was beautifully done, and I liked that she put me in a green dress. “Your favorite color is green,” she said with a smile and than ran off.

I sat for awhile looking at her “family portrait,” wondering if this assignment was difficult for her to do. My daughter had never known her dad and I together, but instead had lots of people who loved her and were her family. Her dad and his fiancé on one side, myself, her stepdad and three older stepsiblings on the other, and tons of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My heart hurt thinking that her drawing was maybe something she wished for, the three of us together.

At bedtime I asked her some questions about her drawing and the choices she made. Much to my surprise her reasoning behind her drawing was simple. With a smile she asked, “How was I supposed to explain my big, crazy family to the rest of the class?” That was it, she felt that her family wasn’t like most of her classmates, and decided to simplify it by drawing her mom, her dad, and herself.  It wasn’t that she wished it to be different, she just didn’t know how to explain all the moving parts. 

A Family is a Family is a Family, written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by QinLeng, is the perfect book to help kids understand that families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. At the beginning of this cheerfully illustrated book, the teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special. On each page the students in the class share brief descriptions of their families and how they are unique. Choosing words that are rooted in togetherness, the author connected each family with a common theme; each are all full of love and while they all may look different, they should all be celebrated. 


One student tells her classmates, “Some of the kids were Dad’s when he met Mom. Some were Mom’s when she met Dad. Now we all belong to each other.” These words spoke to my heart as I reflect back on my daughter sharing about her family drawing. I remember sharing similar words with her as I tried to help her understand that our family, as crazy as it was sometimes, was beautifully blended and full of people that loved her very much.  I highly recommend this wonderful book. 

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The greatest gift bestowed to Susan is that of being a mother. She has worn many hats in her 43 years but being the mom to 5 amazing children (1, 10, 15, 17, 20) is definitely the hat she wears with the greatest amount of pride. Susan does not consider herself a natural writer but rather found the gift of writing as a tool to help her move through grief after her daughters, Anna and Abigail, went to Heaven due to a tragic accident in 2013. Susan has found that the written word along with her unwavering faith in God has allowed her to stay very connected to her daughters and their beautiful lives here and in Heaven. She writes at love-drenched-life.com and is also the founder of Love Rocks, a movement of love and joy that honors her daughters’ lives, love-rocks.org.