by Dannielle Owens-Reid & Kristin Russo, co-founders of My Kid Is Gay
Recently, our friend Meagan, who is also a parent to two young children, told us about a moment she shared with her kids:
“It’s very important to me that my kids grow up understanding that there is no ‘normal,’ from how marriage is defined to who we love to how we live. Without giving my kids any detail, I said at one point that all babies come from a mom. A mom carries them in her belly and then they’re born. Fast forward a few months later when I was explaining to them (ages 4 and 3) about how some kids have a mom and dad, some just a mom or just a dad, some have two moms or two dads. They had very little reaction to any of this, until a moment later when my daughter said, “for the kids with two dads, where’s the mom?” Shit, she had been listening earlier! So I told her that them mom isn’t in the picture. And my son said, “what picture?” So then I had to describe euphemisms and suddenly we were down a wormhole.”
Many parents wish to communicate the many structures of family, and the many identities in the world around them, with their children… but just aren’t sure how. A great place to start is by making sure your kid’s library has books that show this variety — the more they see differences in the world around them, the more comfortable they become in expressing themselves freely.
So, as a starter, here are five awesome LGBTQ-friendly books for young children!
“The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way.”
Why We Love It: This book is bright, colorful, and incredibly tangible for young kids! It stresses the important fact that families come in many different shapes and sizes and combinations, while highlighting that the love felt in all families is important, powerful, and strong.
“Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy. Inspired by the author’s son, and by her own initial struggles to understand, this is a heart-warming book about unconditional love and one remarkable family.”
Why We Love It: Well, first of all, we’re suckers for real life stories. What’s more, books that allow for expression outside of societal expectations of gender are rare — and so it isn’t often that kids get to see anything beyond the pinks and blues that are all around them. Understanding that gender isn’t something that fits in one of two boxes is incredibly important for young children!!
“And Tango Makes Three is a 2005 children’s book written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo.
Why We Love It: Yay! Another true story! What’s so great about this book is that it highlights, again, a different family structure — but it also shows that these structures are all around us. Not only do some kids have two moms or dads, but penguins, too!
“A little boy must come to terms with being teased and ostracized because he’d rather read books, paint pictures, and tap-dance than participate in sports.”
Why We Love It: Tomie dePaola is an incredible writer of children’s stories, and we are even more in love with him knowing that he created this book in 1979. *standing ovation* This book masterfully handles prescribed gender roles, and, through beautiful illustrations and simple text, shows that Oliver Button (and any kid) can do what they love most, and still find the support of their family and friends.
“When Jack, a blackbird, ventures out of the woods to see the ocean for the first time, he meets Jim, a gregarious seagull. They fly together all day, and become fast friends. But when they visit Jim’s village, their fun ends. They are met with stares and rude remarks. The other seagulls don’t like Jack because he looks different. Then Jim discovers that Jack can do something no other seagull can — he can read! It is the strength of Jim and Jack’s friendship — and the remarkable power of story — that eventually opens the minds and changes the hearts of the village seagulls.”
Why We Love It: The ambiguity of this story allows it to address differences that go beyond just gender and sexuality. Through the tale of these two birds (why is it always birds?!), we see the power of love and friendship, and the ability that others have in learning and growing in their understanding of those different from themselves.
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