Publication Date: November 4, 2014
The author, Richard Carlson, gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
We are a Multiracial Family is a charming story for early readers with a very positive message. Theodor and his four siblings range in age from six to ten. They were adopted from different countries and cultures. Eleven-year-old Abeni has autism. The author first introduces each child to the young reader and then presents an obstacle. A tree must be moved. The tree is Abeni’s favorite tree so extra attention should be given to her feelings. How do they work together to accomplish their task?
As befitting a children’s story, the concept is very simply presented. Accompanying the narrative are simple illustrations perfectly paired with the story. Children see the common work leading to a common reward.
While an early reading book perhaps isn’t the place to expand and educate children about autism, Carlson uses Abeni as a possibly hitch in the teamwork paradigm to illustrate the need for patience and respect in a diverse family. The family plans to move a tree and she questions Theodor when change is imminent. Instead of taking offense and inciting an argument that might further distress little Abeni, little Theodor takes the time to give Abeni the reassurance needed to continue with the project. While the presentation is perhaps a bit over-simplified, the story is for young readers.
What I really loved about this sweet story was that so often in our cultural these days the idea of adoption is treated with revulsion. How could a mother give up a child? Aren’t those children doomed to troubled existences? We are a Multiracial Family gives young readers just shaping a world view, a glimpse of a happy family that works well together without the connection of biology. They are a family of heart and choice.
I invited 12-year-old Alex to read the book and give her opinion. She thought it was a happy story to read to a child at night. After reading the book, she told me of a child with autism in her class at school and said that while she doesn’t know a lot about the disease, that the story helped her understand why the young man retains his classroom while the rest of the students rotate.
If you have a young reader or a child new to reading on their own, We are a Multiracial Family would be a wonderful addition to their literary collection. Read an excerpt and buy on: