I’m always on the look-out for books that normalize real life. The Goose is exposed to our version of the world, but it’s not the only one. I wouldn’t feel that I’d educated her well if I allowed her to grow up thinking that her way of life is the only one or most common one. I think that such an upbringing can quickly lead to a misguided feeling of superiority over others.
However, her life experience (for the most part) is reflected back to her in dominant culture, so how could she learn otherwise?
At the same time, I don’t enjoy books that call attention to the fact that they’re showing you something outside of that paradigm. That is not helpful to me – if you call attention to it, you are simply highlighting the idea that the thing you are showing is abnormal.
So, when I come across a book that tells a story about a character who is different from the dominant culture, without telling a story about why the character is different, I grab it. I’m fairly forgiving of these books, because seriously, the pickings are horribly slim. However, when I come across one that is also well written and well illustrated I consider it a jackpot.
So here is a review of some books that we have found that are about a wide range of topics, but that feature something other than the dominant culture.
Non-Nuclear Families (Something a little different than mommy, daddy, brother, sister)
The Lost Lake (Allen Say) – A boy visits his father over the summer.
The Whales’ Song (Dyan Sheldon and Gary Blythe) – A girl with her Grandmother and Great Uncle. Does she live them or is she visiting? It doesn’t say either way.