From the Publisher:
One Little Two Little Three Little Children—an exuberant reinvention of the classic children’s rhyme—is pure read-aloud, sing-along joy and an irresistible celebration of all kinds of children and families.
This singable book aims to showcase diversity and inclusion for young readers with the overall message that we are all one big family and that families come in many shapes and sizes. It prominently showcases same-sex parent families, as well as showcasing families having fun together with both parents or just one parent. Though it appears meant to represent families world-wide, the setting is prominently urban North America. It does a good job of showing kids of multiple races, as well as mixed-race families. However, it is not as sensitively or politically correctly done as is required in this day and age – read on to discover why.
I was enjoying reading this book to my kids until we came to the part of the book that showed/discussed different types of homes. Kirkus Reviews (Feb 15, 2016) does a good job of summarizing the problem – hope they don’t mind me quoting and citing their thoughts here:
The first homes are in a bucolic, rural setting, and then a verso page shows an apartment building. Facing this page is a trio of homes: “Snow-cozy, / stick-cozy, / brick-cozy houses,” and herein lies the rub: the igloo and teepee depicted here are juxtaposed with a child making a structure of building blocks, undermining efforts at multicultural inclusion by falsely equating these so-called “snow” and “stick” structures with toys. These depictions also bring to the forefront the text’s similarities to versions of the rhyme referring to “One little, / two little, / three little Indians” that have been roundly critiqued as racist, or, even more egregiously, other versions that use the n-word. The appearance of another teepee on the outskirts of the closing illustration is perplexing–is it a plaything like the soccer goals? Or just a visual balance for the ice cream truck? Or something else? An uneven effort at inclusion.
~Kirkus, Feb 15, 2016
My kids (adopted) have First Nations heritage and this thoughtless representation makes this book a no-go for us. Also, the teepee is shown alongside the words “stick-cozy” – and they are not made of sticks! We are working hard to help our kids understand and respect their birth heritage, and a book like this does more damage than it helps for our situation. It may not be a problem for others, but I strongly felt the need to point this out to readers.
- representation of all types of families and that families are not homogenous
- engaging illustration style
- rhyme is very singable
- thoughtless representation of the variety of homes, especially for First Nations and Inuit (equation of Teepee and igloo as toys – see above)
- prominently North American setting – lost opportunity to show kids around the world.
Why/How Use it with kids:
- use this as a launch pad to discuss the variety of families in your community. What defines a family? why?
- draw pictures/make up a story about your family. What makes it unique?
- create new verses for the rhyme/song. what would you add?
About the Author & Illustrator:
Kelly DiPucchio is a New York Times bestselling author of several books for children, including Grace for President and Clink. She lives in a brick-cozy house in southeastern Michigan with her husband and three children, who aren’t so little anymore.