Reviews, Endorsements, and Awards

That's a Family!

That's a Family!

That's a Family! is an entertaining documentary that breaks new ground in helping children in grades K-8 understand the different shapes families take today. Part of The Respect for All Project.

Reviews | Endorsements | Awards
What Children are Saying | What Educators are Saying


American Library Association
Starred Review. “Enlightening without being didactic, this sterling production from filmmaker Debra Chasnoff is an excellent resource to get kids talking about cultural diversity and family life.”

Video Librarian
Highly recommended. “This top-notch production aimed at elementary and middle school-aged kids may go a long way toward assuaging children’s fears of being ‘different,’ while also – hopefully – encouraging tolerance in general. …a program like this is more than just long overdue. It’s vital.”

The Education Digest
That’s a Family!…is an excellent film aimed at schoolchildren…Given the importance of family for individuals, communities, and the greater society at large, Debra Chasnoff’s film makes a great learning tool for class discussions on the family.”

MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship
Selina Wang, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans
“The film…is extremely moving and powerful. It has colorful and eye-catching visual effects, but in no way do they detract from the focus on the children and their stories. I would highly recommend this film not only for schools and public libraries, but for adults as well.”
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LA Parent
Nicole Seymour
”Entertaining and fast-paced, That’s a Family! is also honest and instructive, explaining difficult, often-confusing terms such as lesbian, mixed-race and adoption, and stressing that love and support – not blood or skin color – hold families together.”


“Every parent, educator and policymaker should be concerned about school violence. By reflecting the true diversity of American families, That’s a Family! breaks down intolerance and promotes true understanding – a first step toward making our schools safe for all children.”
US Senator Barbara Boxer

That’s a Family! is an extraordinary film that teaches a poignant lesson about love and family.”
Robin Williams, actor

That’s a Family! has helped our school community address concerns and heighten sensitivity to issues of racial and ethnic diversity,religion, class, divorce, separation, sexual orientation and adoption.

We have used the film with faculty to help guide them in creating curriculum and supporting children in their discussions of family difference. We previewed the film to parents so that they could discuss with their children the range of families represented in our schools and in our society. And, we have shown the film to our students so that they may better understand and appreciate the things that families have in common, no matter how they are configured.

It has inspired the kind of questioning, answering and reassurance that helps children to feel safe, inclusive and included!”
—Reveta Bowers, Head of School, Center for Early Education, Los Angeles, CA

“I love That’s A Family! I use it for both my undergraduate and graduate courses on Children and Families and Cultural Awareness for Young Children. It covers all of the family structures teachers will encounter in our increasingly diverse classrooms. There is always positive feedback and lengthy conversations about how teachers should be prepared to handle a variety of situations, even if they make them uncomfortable initially. Plus the resource book that accompanies the film has book lists for the different family structures, and a plethora of suggested activities—which pre-service and in-service teachers love.”
Dr. Shanna L. Graves, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education,
University Of Houston-Clear Lake

“Recognizing diversity as a promise and not a threat, That’s a Family! helps children to feel understood and appreciated instead of condemned because of their family.”
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, executive director, Interfaith Alliance

That’s a Family! is a superb video production. It provides a wealth of material that can produce hours of productive conversation about the many ways in which people become families. The use of children speaking in their own voices about their experience of family is especially successful. I heartily recommend this video.”
—Don-David Lusterman, PhD, fellow, Academy of Family Psychology

“Families encompass both traditional and nontraditional structures, and include a broad range of ethnicities. This film will help children recognize that, while families may look different from one another, their ultimate goal – to love and support their children – is universal.”
—California State Senator Dede Alpert, Senate Education Committee

“It is delightful to see that someone is able to give a realistic portrayal of the changing face of the American family. With the honesty and sincerity of the children’s voices, That’s a Family! shows how we are all different, but that the true definition of family is one in which there is love.”
—Evelyn K. Moore, president, National Black Child Development Institute

That’s a Family! should be aired and discussed in every school across the country. Its message of inclusion and respect for all is both timely and universal.”
—Ellen Hofheimer Bettmann, author of Hate Hurts

That’s a Family! is wonderful and a must for every elementary school classroom. These children’s insights about their families must be heard by all parents, teachers, counselors and others who are committed to helping our nation’s children understand and celebrate difference and diversity.”
—Michele Harway, PhD, past president, American Psychological Association, Division of Family Psychology

“I see a lot of programs from around the world voiced by kids, and few are as genuine, without the fingerprint of an adult dictating the child’s words or feelings. That’s a Family! promises to be an extremely beneficial tool for teachers and parents.”
—David Kleeman, executive director, American Center for Children’s Media

That’s a Family! is a refreshing look at diversity among American families and the kids who grow up in them. The children’s voices are compelling. They are unanimous about what is essential—that their caregivers love, nurture and guide them. They eloquently debunk stereotypes about children from nontraditional homes. That’s a Family! should be shown widely across America.”
—Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, co-author of Lay My Burden Down and professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

That’s a Family! is a wonderful new film that will help children talk about their own families and have a richer understanding of others. The film demonstrates that families are different from each other in many ways, and that diversity is the rule rather than the exception.”
—Jane Smith, president and CEO, National Council of Negro Women

“Children are an overlooked resource in the adult definition-of-family discussion…and that’s unfortunate. The children in That’s a Family! do not have preconceived notions or limited vision. They speak powerfully, persuasively and without a doubt about many different kinds of loving, happy, strong and successful families. What a concept!”
—Dr. Margorie Engel, PhD, past president, Stepfamily Association of America and current member of the National Stepfamily Resource Center’s Stepfamily Expert Council

“The National Partnership for Women and Families applauds That’s a Family! for its innovative approach to acknowledging the diversity of today’s families. What children have to say about their own families and society’s reactions to them is delightful, sometimes poignant. The video will be a valuable conversation starter, both for young students and for adults—a nonthreatening look at some hard topics.”
—Judith L. Lichtman, president, National Partnership for Women and Families

“Through the poignancy of the children’s own words, That’s a Family! validates the family as any unit whose members love and care for one another. The film shows that grandparents and other relatives can provide loving homes for children, and underscores the need for dialogue and exchange across the generations.”
—Donna M. Butts, executive director, Generations United

That’s a Family! introduces us to families across America who face very different circumstances but a similar need for love and respect. It will be invaluable for educators and youth-advocacy workers as they seek to understand the changing nature of American families. Congratulations on another film that broadens our understanding of issues facing children and their families today.”
—Kathleen Weiler, PhD, associate professor of education, Tufts University

“A great example of real-world sociology. It enables my students to think through contemporary social constructions of family as well as the way that educational media can be a vehicle for social change.”
—Vanessa Adel, Sociology Department, Smith College


CINE Golden Eagle Master Series Award, Non-Broadcast Films

First Place, National Council on Family Relations Media Awards

Best Documentary, San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Audience Award, Best Short Film, Barcelona Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Best Short Documentary, Santa Clarita International Film Festival

Best Short Documentary, Burbank International Children’s Film Festival

What Children are Saying

“You have done a wonderful, stupendous, great, two thumbs way up, fabulous, well done, on the extreme level, fantastic, really good, magical, amazing, marvelous, great performance on this wonderful movie, and please make more until they understand the way that we do.”
—Gabriel, age 9

“I think that this film will help kids understand that not all families have to have a mom, dad and kids. Some families have two moms or two dads, or live with an aunt, uncle or grandparent.”
—Steffi, age 10

“The film is really cool. I never knew what a guardian was. I thought it was some guy with a sword to protect you, but now I know it’s a person who helps take care of you, or takes care of you altogether.”
—Kyle, age 11

“I didn’t think the families in the film were different from ordinary families. I know because my family is different. I don’t get treated different, but some kids do. I think a family is when people love and care about each other.”
—Shannon, age 8

“My favorite part of the movie is seeing people that are adopted like me. I think this movie should be shown at my school because people get teased at my school.”
—Matt, age 8

“I was very impressed with the way it told children what a family really means instead of just what the stereotype of family is.”
—Sonja, age 11

“I have never ever seen a children’s program that explained or even said anything about lesbian or gay issues. I believe that this is probably one of the most important subjects you could have covered.”
—Sylvia, age 12

“I related to this movie a lot because it seems I’ve gone through just about all of those situations. Right now, I’m living with my mother and stepdad. About seven years ago, I lived with just my mom. And when I was about two, I lived with my mom and her boyfriend, who was Mexican and black. The video made me have good and bad memories. It was cool.”
—Erika, age 10

“I think the single-parent family was the best because rarely do I hear about them in school. Rarely are they even mentioned.”
—Kendall, age 10

“I have nothing against gays, lesbians, separated or no kind of biracial families. I think that your film will help a lot of people out with their problems against these types of people.”
—Krissy, age 11

What Educators are Saying

“It just so happened that one of our fifth-grade teachers had an incident with her class yesterday where they were calling each other gay and lesbo , so the training was quite timely. It isn’t often we receive such a valuable resource. I am hoping (and will encourage) my principal to share our experience with the other principals in our district so that they, too, will be able to utilize this wonderful program at their schools.”
—Audrey Ledesma, resource specialist, Mt. Vernon Elementary School

“Yesterday our staff spent two hours viewing That’s a Family! …I really appreciated getting a chance to honor and think about families. They are so powerful; sharing it with the staff I work with and see everyday was a real pleasure.

“Thank you for making these services and rich materials available to schools and communities.”
—Carol Engberg, library media teacher, Delaine Eastin Elementary

“I’ve seen a lot of curriculum guides on diversity and this is definitely the best one I’ve seen!”
—Teacher, Crescent Heights Language and Social Justice Magnet School