Elliot Riley’s book, “Levi’s Family,” tells of a young boy’s journey through adoption. Using simple illustrations, the book highlights how Levi lives with a foster family of a different race, and how he dreams of a forever home where he feels safe. A brief look into his past reveals that another home he lived in built up a fear that not every home is a good place to be. However, Levi’s foster family takes the time to get to know him. They comfort him when he’s afraid, learns his likes and dislikes, and creates a music band with him. The last segment of the book shows how Levi’s dream comes true, when his foster family adopts him, ending the story with a very exciting, fairytale-like feel.
This simple, easy 24-page read is a perfect book for kids (Grades 2 and up) learning how to read, or for a fun bedtime story. It brings awareness to diversity within family, without judgement or any preconceived notions of what “family” is supposed to look like. Levi is a young red-haired Caucasian male, and his foster parents are both African-American. When speaking to Levi’s past experiences, the negative figures are represented by a grayed-out figure so as not to create stigmas or prejudices against any particular race.
Just before the Table of Contents, Riley includes one page of “Before and After Reading Activities,” designed with a specific “Teaching Focus” section, for young readers and parents. The “Before Reading” segment invites young readers to make a prediction about the story, based on the title page. It also presents suggestions on different ways to approach the book before actually reading the story.
In the “After Reading” part, Riley lists four questions relating to the events in the book, to test reading comprehension skills. As an extra activity, young readers can make up a song about their own families to the tune of their favorite song (i.e. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”).
At the back of the page, there is one page entitled, “Family Fun.” Here, young readers are asked to talk about their own families, draw pictures, and reflect on how their family is either similar or different than Levi’s.
This creative page features four words that young readers may find challenging. They are described by pictures, phonetics for pronunciation and then a single sentence to define what it means. It is a very inventive and cute way to help readers enhance their vocabulary while reading the story.
Elliot Riley lives with her family in Tampa, Florida. She loves spending time with family, and playing games with everyone. Her favorite part is when they all laugh and eat together.