We host a series of symposiums, workshops and retreats that we call Essential Conversations as a way for us to contribute to the initiatives about diversity and representation in children’s books.
One workshop in this series is Writing the Rainbow: Crafting Picture Books With LGBTQIA+ Themes, where workshop leaders Lesléa Newman and Rob Sanders lead an immersive experience in creating LGBTQ+ themed fiction and nonfiction picture books for today’s market.
In a recent blog post, Lesléa and Rob discussed writing picture books and why more LGBTQ+ voices are needed in children’s publishing. Expanding on that conversation, here are some thoughts about WHY more picture books with LGBTQ+ themes are needed.
By depicting different types of people and family units, picture books teach kids that each kid and family is unique. Books like Todd Parr’s It’s OK To Be Different, Little You by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett, and Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer show kids that everyone is unique and to be respected.
Support for Gender Identity & Expression
Books like Bunnybear by Andrea J. Loney, Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman, and The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez gently show kids, through story and pictures, ways to be themselves, and ways to support their friends and family.
Families With LGBTQ+ Parents
Kids who have LGBTQ+ parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and more, need and deserve to see their families portrayed in picture books. They need bedtime stories, school stories, and FUN stories that reflect their family makeup. Check out Harini and Padmini Say Namaste by Amy Maranville, When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, ABC: A Family Alphabet Book by Bobbie Combs, and Donovan’s Big Day by Lesléa Newman.
Friends & Classmates
All kids, no matter what their family structure, can benefit from reading books that show there are all kinds of families. Picture books like Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee and The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya, and board books like Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer are family stories that show many ways families live and love one another.
Biographies of Historical People
The contributions of LGBTQ+ people have long been ignored in history lessons. It’s past time that their accomplishments were celebrated in picture books. Books like Rob Sanders’ PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag and Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales can give kids an appreciation for the contributions of LGBTQ+ people to our society.
For Educators & Librarians
School classrooms and public libraries need all of the above books, and many more, and they need to make them available to ALL kids. What are some titles you would add to this important list?