Good Night Families by Adam Gamble, illustrated by Cooper Kelly.
Good Night Books, 2017.
Board book, 20 pages.
A showcase of a wide variety of families going through their days.
This book is a bit of a mixed bag. First, let’s get some of the negatives out of the way. The font is awful – a dead giveaway that this wasn’t produced by a regular publishing house. There also isn’t a great flow to this book, it’s a series of vignettes that at times feels choppy and awkward.
On the other hand, this is the most diverse board book I’ve ever read. A wide variety of families are shown, and both the text and illustrations make the diversity clear. What pushed me over the top to buy this book was the inclusion of a foster family, which we rarely see in any books, let alone board books.
Let’s go through the pages one by one. The cover shows a mixed race family, with both Asian and African-American grandparents at the hospital to celebrate the arrival of a new baby. This drew my eye at the store since it’s unusual (although very welcome) to see a non-white mixed race family.
Next up is a white family with at least two adopted children (per the text) who are waking up their parents. After that are a mixed-race family with two moms, and a family with two dads. Then a mixed-race group at the playground, given as brother and sister, aunt and uncle.
Going for a bike ride we find three stepsiblings. One in a wheelchair is so well integrated, I didn’t even notice at first. Opposite that is a divorced family where the kids are going from mom to dad. Then a foster family with 4 or 5 kids. The best part is that while one dad is speaking, there are two older characters who could be another parent (or could be older children). So this page could work for a single foster dad, two foster dads, or a foster mom and dad.
Next is a grandmother taking care of two children, then two half-siblings. After that comes a spread with a large multicultural group grilling at the park. One man is in a wheelchair. Then a group of 5 siblings are saying goodnight to their many pets. The text and illustrations don’t quite match here, but are close enough.
An Indian boy thanks his mother and grandmother for dinner, and three children listen to a bedtime story from their dad. The final page has 5 more families and says “Good night, different kinds of families, all filled with love. Thank you for sharing a wonderful day.” These families were not previously seen in the book and include an Orthodox Jewish family, two more same-sex couples and two more interracial families.
While I wish the text and font were less awkward, this book and others like it are important. While we try to cultivate friendships with a wide variety of people, and it’s a priority for our family to travel to cultural events elsewhere, realistically this book has much more variety than our regular life. While this will never be a classic, media like this helps the kids be better prepared when they do meet people outside of our norm. Recommended.