It’s no secret that I am passionate about books. I strongly believe that books play a vital part in finding and creating your identity. Picture books help children learn about themselves and their place in the world. The images they see in picture books help them make sense of the world – who is in it, how it works.
As a gay parent I find it disappointing and frustrating that there are not more children’s books with images of same sex families. My daughter is being raised by two mums but she doesn’t see herself or her family in her books. Books like And Tango Makes Three are hugely important in normalising same sex relationships and providing children with a positive introduction to different families. But my daughter is not a penguin.
I long for more books including (preferably human) same sex families to share with my daughter and her friends. I would love to nonchalantly give her a book where she can stumble upon an illustration of her family, just there in the background, normal, real. She is confident and self-assured and happy with who she is and her place in her family, but I think it would be hugely empowering for her to see herself and her family represented in her books.
I do feel that, thanks to radical and inclusive publishing, that day is getting closer. Radical books are a hugely important way to raise awareness and fight for specific rights or causes. Radical books bring issues and differences into peoples minds, homes and classrooms. Radical books kick down the barriers and pave the way for others to follow. And when those paths are laid and the different is less scary, inclusive publishing steps in. And, for me, that is when the magic happens. Incidental inclusion in children’s books is vital in supporting children’s view of themselves and the world around them. Books which seamlessly reflect a child’s life and society in all it’s diversity are powerful things. They can support and change people’s view of the world.
So over the next week or so I will be waving the flag for radical and inclusive books. I will review some great books, celebrate the first Little Rebel Children’s Book Award, interview some really inspiring people involved in getting radical and inclusive books into the world and our homes, libraries and classrooms, and I’ll be posting some radical and inclusive illustrations. And who knows, maybe through the process I will find a few more books representing my wonderful family. Watch this space…