In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gay parents: part of the crowd

Dear Annie,

Arthur A. Levine, best-known as the Scholastic editor who brought Harry Potter to the U.S., is also a gay dad and a sometimes-author.  His
Monday is One Day
combines two themes we've explored. One is there-are-many-types-of-families; the other is working parents.
The hardest part about going to
work is being apart from you.
Let's count the days till we're both at
home with a special thing to do.
He then lists the weekdays, counting them off until the weekend when kids and working parents get more face time with each other.  Each page has a different family, including different races, single parents, grandparents, and two dads.  It's a wonderfully loving book.

Levine, ever aware of the financial pressures in publishing, is quoted in a five year-old blog post about controversies over several of the books we've been discussing:
"I'm hyper-alert in bookstores looking for the book that might include our family," Levine said. "I'd buy anything that remotely reflected us, partly because I would want to make a vote with my pocketbook. I want to say, 'Whoever you are in that publishing house who pushed this through, I am supporting you.'"

Then there's
The Trouble with Babies
by Martha Freeman.  It's an early chapter book (which I haven't read, have been trolling the internet for good stuff) about a girl who's just moved to a new neighborhood with her mom and stepdad.  She befriends the boy next door, who has two dads.   The plot seems to center on her settling in to the new situation, rather than on the kid's dads: they're just part of the setting.

I'm going to toss out another Levine quote here, and come back to it next time:
"Ten percent of the children's book readership, at least, will grow up to be gay or lesbian," he said to "Wouldn't it be nice if their first exposure to the idea that there are gay people in the world isn't when they're teenagers — so when little Johnny falls in love with that really cute, brainy boy in his computer class, he's grown up with the idea that it's not unusual and there's nothing wrong with that."
So are there picture books about young kids who are gay?  A few get presented that way.  Stay tuned for my next post, which will also address a delightful book that could be about a transgender child.




  1. How can you tell if young kids are gay? I'd think that in most cases it's not apparent. I guess some kids might be extremely hetero- or homo- sexual, but in our family we can only tell with the ones who have hit puberty (and even then I figure they have the right to change their minds).

    Or do you just mean kids who want to play with gender roles? Boys who like to paint their fingernails and wear dresses? I'm interested in seeing your next post!

  2. I hope your next post discusses My Princess Boy. I teared up when I read that one, because its theme is universal: parents love their children, just as they are.