Family Story Backpacks are a transportable curriculum designed to facilitate the sharing of stories around themes significant to families in order to invite those stories into classrooms. Families are encouraged to share stories from their life experiences and to view their funds of knowledge as significant to their child and school. The backpacks facilitate partnerships between families and school and create excitement for children about sharing their families with their classmates.
Description of Family Story Backpacks
- Transportable curriculum to encourage families to share stories around themes significant in their lives.
- 4-6 children check out a backpack each week on a rotating basis to share with their families at home.
- Each backpack contains 3 books (1 nonfiction global book and 2 fiction books), 1 artifact, and a family journal. The purpose of the artifact is to encourage the family to share oral stories around the theme.
- The journal can take two forms. Each family can have their own journal that is moved from backpack to backpack so they can keep adding to the same journal. Another possibility is that each backpack can have a journal that stays with the backpack and each family adds an entry and reads past entries from other families.
- Entries in journals can be a family story related to the theme, responses to the books, or descriptions of what the family did with the backpack. Any member of the family can add to the journal and the entries can be drawings, writing, photos, etc. Families can make multiple entries related to each backpack.
- A digital recorder to record the family’s stories can be included in the backpack.
- The child should have a chance to share briefly about the family’s interactions around the backpack with the teacher or the class when the backpack is returned.
Examples of Family Story Backpacks
The backpacks listed here were created for cultural communities in Tucson, Ariz., and you will want to substitute books that fit your context. You also want to consider the themes that are significant to your students. Our backpack on rain is important because we have so little rain in the desert and the August monsoons are a major time of celebration—that would not be true for a rainy climate.
Time for Bed
- Henderson, Kathy. Hush, Baby, Hush! Lullabies around the World – Global
- Fox, Mem. A Bedtime Story – Australia
- Braun, Sebastien. Back to Bed, Ed! – United Kingdom
- Artifact: Lullaby gloworm
- Stewart Konrad, Marla. I Like to Play – Global
- Colato Laínez, René. Playing Lotería/El juego de la Lotería – Mexican
- Tafolla, Carmen. What Can You Do with a paleta? – Mexican-Am.
- McLerran, Alice. Roxaboxen. Southwest US
- Artifacts: Plastic ball/La Lotería cards or Old Maid
- Schuette, Sarah. Birthday Customs around the World – Global
- Hutchins, Pat. Happy Birthday, Sam – United Kingdom
- Gonzales Bertrand, Diane. The Party for Papá Luis/La fiesta para Papá Luis – Mexican Am.
- Artifact: Birthday candles and birthday treats
Grandparents are the Best
- Stewart Konrad, Marla. Grand – Global
- Brammer, Ethriam. My Tata’s Guitar/La guitarra de mi tata – Mexican
- Smalls, Irene. My Nana and Me – African American
- Artifact: Photo album (add several photos of grandparents with an invitation for the family to draw a picture or add a photo of their grandparents)
Families Have Many Cultures
- Rotner, Shelley. Shades of People. Global
- Ada, Alma Flor. I Love Saturdays y domingos – Mexican Am.
- Diggs, Taye. Mixed Me! US biracial family
- Artifact: Skin Color crayons/ Paper Doll
- Cotton, Cynthia. Rain Play – US
- Germein, Katrina. Big Rain Coming – Australia
- Ward, Jennifer. The Sunhat – Southwest desert, US
- Artifact: Small plastic play umbrella
Together as a Family
- Kerley, B. You and Me Together – Global
- Zamorano, Ana. Let’s Eat – Spain
- Gonzáles Bertrand, Diane. We Are Cousins/Somos primos – Latinx in US
- Artifacts: Family Finger Puppets
The Story of My Name
- Ogburn, Jacqueline. Little Treasures: Endearments Around the World – Global
- Dunklee, Annika. My Name is Elizabeth – Canada
- Colato-Laínez, René. René Has Two Names/René tiene dos apellidos – Bilingual, El Salvador
- Artifact: ABC wooden blocks
- Jackson, Ellen. It’s Back to School We Go OR School in Many Cultures, Heather Adamson – global
- Forward, Toby, What Did You Do Today? – UK
- Ancona, George. Mi Escuela/My School – Bilingual, US
- Artifact: Small white board and markers
- Selby Beeler. Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World – Global
- Lester Laminack. Trevor’s Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth – US
- René Colato-Laínez. The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez – Latinx families in the US
- Artifacts: Tooth fairy pillow and a mirror
*This engagement was created by Maria Acevedo and Kathy Short.