Reviews /

Family and Me

Authored by Michaela Dias-Hayes
Illustrated by Michaela Dias-Hayes
Published by Owlet Press

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Michaela Dias-Hayes has woven a charming story of the tale of a young girl celebrating her dual heritage family and, in her own words, how every “branch makes me…….ME!” As we read, we follow the little girl narrator through her family tree as she identifies the parts of herself she has inherited from the family around her. She guides us through her Black and South Asian family lines, pointing out what traits, both physical and character, have come to make her who she is. We see her love of dancing has come from her Grandpa and his feet, her nose and cooking skills from her Nanny, and her glowing skin and melanin are inherited from her Grandad.

This text would be best placed in EYFS and KS1 classes and it would be a delightful read in any primary class. It would certainly be a great book to open discussions about race, diversity and heritage in a KS2 classroom. The celebration of diverse cultural heritage is not overt; Dias-Hayes places the focus squarely on the girl’s family, who clearly love each other dearly. For me, this made reading this story even more special – it celebrates family and connection first and foremost. The overarching message I took from this was that where we are from and our differences are important in creating our identity, but it is love and family which connect us, whoever and wherever we are.

There are so many ways this text would be a teaching asset. Its rhyming would make it great to support the development of rhyming strings in EYFS, whilst ensuring diversity and representation underpin resources available. The beautifully illustrated endpapers would lend themselves to an art project in an ‘All About Me’ topic, and this, in turn, could lead to some self-initiated writing about who pupils are whilst also providing children agency.

The only consideration I would have using this text, would be that this story focuses heavily on the love and joy of family connections making us who we are. As educators, we are acutely aware that families come in many forms and homes are not always happy. This would need addressing on a class by class basis, with educators using their discretion and knowledge of their pupils to navigate this.

Dias-Hayes’s illustrations and words have, yet again, crafted a joyful story celebrating the diversity of culture, heritage and family. This is certainly a must have for any EYFS and KS1 book corner.