Inspiring readers: Different types of families

Content Team
Share this page
In the fifth in our series on using books with Lyfta, our Professional Development Lead, Anna Szpakowska, explores how books about diverse families can be enhanced through exploration of Lyfta’s storyworlds.
A happy family
A happy family
blue quote

"We should all know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value…"

blue line
A key feature of the statutory framework for relationships, sex and health education is teaching students to understand healthy relationships, incluiding learning to appreciate that families come in many forms. As the Department for Education's Primary guidance states 'Families of many forms provide a nurturing environment for children' and that 'Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no stigmatisation of children based on their home circumstances'.
As our previous book blogs have highlighted, stories are a great way to support learning and nurture understanding of difference. In what follows, we'll highlight some useful books for different age groups and identify Lyfta storyworlds that can enrich these learning opportunities.
You can read the earlier blogs in the series using the links below:


Jessica Shirvington's book, Just the Way We Are, is a picture book intended for children aged 2-5 and has been beautifully illustrated by Claire Robertson. The book serves as an introduction to a range of different families which will help to usualise the diversity of family life for children of this age.
We know from teachers using Lyfta with this age range that an exploration of Lyfta's storyworlds (immersive 360 degree environments) serve as fantastic learning experiences for children at the EYFS stage. We'd recommend exploring the storyworlds Habiba's Home, Muhammed's Home and Anni's Home so that students can visit different families enjoying dinner, highlighting that while these families may look different to their own, we have far more in common than anything that makes us different.

Key stage one

Usborne's All About Families is another fantastic text and is suitable for children in key stage one. This book not only provides beautiful images, illustrating the wide variety of families that exist, it also has a useful glossary and short sections of text that won't prove too challenging for five to seven year olds. What's great about this text is that it also highlights the way that animals can play a key role in our families too, featuring lots of pictures of dogs, cats and other animals.
This text could be supported by our storyworld, Dog's Best Friend. We know from teachers using Lyfta at key stage one that this storyworld proves very popular with children of this age. This storyworld features Erkan who, whilst he has never married nor maintained many friendships, has formed very close bonds with the stray animals where he lives. Not only will this demonstrate to children the vast array of experiences people can have in their families but it also shows that while some people may not form close bonds with other people, animals can provide those loving relationships for us.

Key stage two

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates came highly recommended to me by an ex-colleague of mine who is now a year five teacher. In the story, Freddie has lost both his mother and grandmother and lives with his step-father. The story depicts the journey Freddie goes on when he discovers his biological father might be alive and well, he sets out on a journey with his friends to try to find him. The story is funny, heartwarming and moving too.
Not only does this book sensitively deal with the issue of bereavement but it also highlights the important bond children can have with a step-parent and a single dad. This book could be enriched by an exploration of Muhammed's Home and the short documentary film My Daughter and I, which depicts the life single father Muhammed leads with his young daughter after her mother has died.

Key stage three and four

The young adult book We Are All Made of Molecules, by Susin Nielsen, is a comedy drama that depicts the coming together of two families. When popular school-girl Ashley's mum separates from her dad, she forms a new relationship with geeky school-boy Stewart's dad. Told in alternating chapters, told from the perspectives of Ashley and Stewart, the story depicts the tensions at the heart of this newly formed family. These tensions are exacerbated by the fact that Ashley is keen to prevent anyone from finding out that her biological father (who now lives in the garden) is gay.

Not only does this book sensitively, and comically, deal with the issue of step-families - something many young people are familiar with- it also reveals the difficulties some families have when coming to terms with a relative's sexuality. This book would be enriched by Lyfta's documentary film Qwensley and the lesson plan Meet Qwensley . The film and lesson plan allow students to understand how Qwensley coped when he came up against objections to his sexuality from his family but also asks students to write Qwensley a message of support.
Character & Values
Cultural Capital
Global Learning
Human Stories
Inspiring Readers
Social Emotional Learning
Diversity Equity Inclusion
Personal Development