What is this book about?
This book by Shona Innes and Irisz Agocs, “A Family is Like a Cake”, is a book about families, and about all the different types of families there are.
This book introduces the concept of what a family is, e.g., belonging, being held in mind, helped, encouraged, loved, and supported. The book then goes on to use the cake metaphor to talk about different types of families, and the ways families ‘are’ together and support each other … cakes can be different shapes, sizes, flavours, colours, and layers after all.
At the end of the book is a page with the Author’s note to parents and teachers highlighting the importance of a “healthy family – no matter what its shape and size” to “provide a special space for child to explore and develop”. The Author, Shona, also talks about the importance of balancing support with limits for optimal development.
Why do I like this book?
I love the cake metaphor…and not just because I love cake. This is a great way to talk about different ‘ingredients’ of families and how all families are made up of different ingredients. This fits with my view that all families are unique and special.
I also love the idea that each cake (and family) is a special combination of ingredients e.g., different family members, different family traditions, different rules, and different ways of showing love. This book provides a great way to acknowledge and discuss each family’s unique ‘ingredients’.
My favourite part of the book is this sentence, “There is no right or wrong type of cake, and there is no right or wrong type of family”. In a world that constantly invites comparisons via popular media and social media, and tries to tell people and families how they should look, act and be, it is fantastic to have a clear message that all types of families are okay, no matter how big or small, who makes up the family, or how the family likes to be together.
And as an added bonus, this book is beautifully illustrated.
How do I use the book?
After reading the book and discussing the family as a cake metaphor, I like to invite the family I am working with to decide if the cake metaphor works for them or if they would like a different metaphor…maybe a pizza!
I like to use the book to help families think about their ‘cake’…what their special ingredients are in terms of family members and family processes, e.g., how they support each other, their limits and rules, traditions, and celebrations.
“A Family is Like a Cake” also provides a great opportunity to talk about different family structures e.g., family members might be from different generations (e.g., grandparents, parents, and children; kinship carers), different families (e.g., foster care, family of choice), or blended families.
This book is also great for talking about the importance of support in families. The idea is that it is important to support each other as family members, and for the adults in the family to support children as they grow and develop, and face life’s changes and challenges….and it introduces the idea that sometimes families need support from outside the family. That’s where someone like me comes in – for extra support. I guess I might be the cake stand for a little while, helping hold the family as they move through the issues they are facing.
While the book appears to be geared towards younger audiences, I have used this book with families whose children range in age, including teenagers.
I love this book and I hope you love it too.
Let me know your thoughts and how you use the book.
Dr Leonie White - Clinical Family Therapist and Psychologist
Helping people grow, connect and thrive in life’s unique journey.
Please note - this article is educational in nature and does not constitute therapy advice.
Please seek help from a professional if you require support.