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We Belong Together

In his latest masterpiece, children’s author Todd Parr tells a tale that gets to the heart of adoption. This is a book that belongs on our shelves.Little, Brown; $15.99; ages 4–8

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When Todd Parr creates a picture book, he wants every child to see himself in it, and to like what he sees. I can assure you that our children will see themselves on every page of We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families.

Parr, author and illustrator of more than two dozen books and creator of the children’s show, ToddWorld, won my heart a few years ago, when I came across The Family Book.

With four simple words, “Some families adopt children,” Parr ended my frantic search for an adoption-friendly book that my daughter’s preschool teacher could include in her unit on families. Now, he uses his bold black lines, simple shapes, bright colors, and wonderfully clear language to tell a tale specifically about adoption. “The question keeps coming up—was I adopted?” Parr said in a recent interview. “I wasn’t.” He’s not an adoptive parent, either. No matter, he’s proved that he “gets” adoption.

Whom do I see in this book? I see my daughter, Natalie—a girl who “needed someone to help [her] grow healthy and strong,” a girl who needed to play and learn. Natalie sees herself—as the girl who needs a dog, in the illustration she recognizes as “her” Russia. In We Belong Together, we see ourselves, and we love what we see.

Reviewed by Kay Marner, a mother by birth and adoption. She works at the public library in Ames, Iowa.

Author Q&A: Todd Parr

Adoptive Families: The Family Book and It’s Okay to Be Different always make the list of our readers’ favorites. What prompted you to mention adoption in both of them?
Todd Parr: I want kids to see their own families in my books—alongside as many other types of families as possible. When kids find themselves in a book, it shows them that their family is normal. I put things out there the way they are—just matter of fact.

AF: We Belong Together ends with…
TP: “There are lots of different ways to make a family. It just takes love. Share your home, and share your heart. Love, Todd.”

: Yes, “Share your home, and share your heart.” Are you marketing this book to adoptive families or to a general audience?
TP: Actually, that was something I debated with my publisher. I didn’t want people to look at the book and say, “Oh, that’s an adoption book. That’s not for me.” But we also didn’t want adoptive families to miss it. We included the subtitle—A Book About Adoption and Families—so the book finds people like you. But on future print runs people will just see We Belong Together.

AF: We also love your book, Reading Makes You Feel Good. What prompted you to include a spread about reading together in We Belong Together?
TP: My grandmother read to me for hours, and the time we spent reading together wasn’t just about the books—it was about the bonding. I talk about “listen, think, laugh” moments—those moments that lead to warm, affectionate feelings. Those moments are what reading together is about.

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