As a full-time nanny who also babysits for a ton of families on a regular basis, I spend a lot of time reading children's books. As a full-time queer, I spend a lot of time pushing my gay agenda on children. (I will always offer boys a pink sippy cup first. Always.) If you also want to push your gay agenda on the children in your life, or just spend some quality time with them, why not check out some queer-themed picture books?
There are tons of children's books out there about same-sex parents, trans issues, gender nonconforming children, and simply rejecting traditional gender roles. To help you navigate the world of queer children's books, I checked a few out from my local library.
Of course, I can review children's books all I want, but being a kind-of-grown-up means my opinions don't matter that much, so I enlisted some of my favorite children to help. Violet is six years old and was very enthusiastic about her new role as a literary critic. Her sister, Clementine, is three and was very enthusiastic about the one book with a lot of pink in it and also running around the living room like a crazy person. The three of us read and reviewed three books: My Princess Boy, Heather Has Two Mommies, and Operation Marriage.
My Princess Boy is a simple story, inspired by the author's son, about a boy who likes things that are considered girly. He loves pink, dancing like a ballerina and wearing a tiara while he climbs trees. His mother, father and brother all love him and accept him for who he is, but sometimes people stare and laugh at him for liking girls' clothes. It has an easy-to-understand message about accepting people for who they are, and also has some beautiful illustrations.
I really liked it, it was really good and really nice. I liked when he dressed up like a princess boy. I liked when he did Halloween.
I liked the princess. I looove it. It got a princess in it.
You've probably heard of this book, which was written all the way back in 1989. I had certainly heard the title, but didn't know much about it until now. It's a cute story about how Heather goes to play group for the first time and realizes that some other kids have a mother and a father, and feels strange that she has two mothers. But then she learns about all different kinds of families, including families with single mothers, families with stepparents and families with two fathers. Heather's teacher tells the kids, “The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.”
Violet: I thought it was really cool and nice. The people had families and some didn't have mothers and some only had papas and so that was really neat about it. I liked it and it was really, really cool.
Me: Did you like that story?
Me: What was it about?
Clementine: It was a princess one. [Pause] I got a story. (Note: Pretty sure Clementine was still thinking about My Princess Boy. This book does not feature any princesses.)
This book is the story of how an 8-year old girl, with the help of her little brother, convinces her two moms to get married in California before the passage of Prop 8. It will probably go over the heads of younger children, and doesn't actually explain what Prop 8 is. It might be a good starting point for discussing marriage equality with kids, if that's what you want to do. But honestly, it was kind of boring, so maybe you could just start a conversation about marriage equality with kids out of nowhere. Violet is a relentlessly positive critic, but from what I could tell, the story wasn't actually holding her attention as I read it.
I liked it. I liked it because it was they didn't get married but then they got married, and they had two kids. And Clementine's really nice to me, and I like Clementine. She's usually nice to me. My favorite part was when they got married.
Me: Did you like this book?
Me: What was it about?
Clementine: I'm going in my closet!
Me: Do you remember what the book was about?
Clementine: (Singing) Na na na na na!
Violet, Clementine and I had a great queer storytime, and we're excited that there are so many more queer-themed kids books out there. There was a time when Heather Has Two Mommies was pretty much it, and now there are books about transgender children, gay scientist dads, a prince who wants to marry a prince, and so much more, some of which we will be tackling in future storytimes!