Still a Family written by Brenda Reeves Sturgis and illustrated by Jo-Shin Lee was published by Albert Whitman & Company in 2017. It gives us a look into the life of a little girl and her parents while they are homeless. The child and Mom live in a women’s shelter and Dad lives in a men’s shelter.
In this touching story we walk through the child’s days of sleeping on a mat on the floor of the shelter, standing in line at a soup kitchen and playing with her only toy-her doll. Mom and Dad take turns caring for her while the other looks for a job. And sometimes they all get together at a park to visit and hug.
Throughout the difficult details of her life the little girl courageously reminds us-and herself-that they are still a family.
I think this picture book isn’t typical for several reasons:
- The main character starts her story with a huge change from her “normal” life to homelessness. Though her life changes it doesn’t really change her resolve. She holds fast to the unchanging truth that she, Mom and Dad really are a family no matter what changes they are forced to make.
- The “Author’s Note” at the end of the story tells readers that it is dedicated to children living in shelters.
- However, it is also a challenge to other readers to get involved in solving our nation’s problem of homelessness. She says “Whatever you can do will matter, and it will help.”
I think that Still a Family will become an excellent resource for lower elementary classrooms. It can also be a starting place for parents and children who want to make a difference in their own communities regarding homelessness or other social issues.