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Where are we on children's bookshelves?

Would the LBGT community benefit from better representation in children’s books?

Fran Hayden

Tue, 15 Jan 2013 14:34:05 GMT | Updated 4 years today

We've all read children's books, right? When I was little and learning to read at school I delved in to books such as Biff, Chip & Kipper, but now, looking back, I feel that the LGBT community is somewhat neglected within this genre.


It is usually the case that books for children 12 years and under portray the parents of characters as heterosexual and often show the standard "nuclear family" ideal. The children presented within the books are often assumed to be straight and they conform to their gender stereotypes - when growing up, I read the Famous Five series and the only exception I can think of is tomboy George, who seemed to blur the gender line substantially as her behaviour was often associated with maleness. I believe that children's books do little to help children learn about equality, diversity and acceptance of these differences. Surely we should be represented somewhere?


Although there are a few young children's books available which represent LGBT people, they aren't readily accessible in most schools; parents usually have to look online or go to a bookstore if they want this kind of book.


I believe that if children were to learn, at a young age, about LGBT people it would allow them to make their own opinions about such issues when growing up. I also believe that it would be valuable for children to learn about us in an way that presents LGBT people as "the norm", not as a sideline to other action happening in the story, but as the main story. Not only that, but I think it would assist children in learning that it's ok to be different - whether you have two mums or two dads, it's not a bad thing - you don't have to conform to stereotypes.


If LGBT characters were presented in books for young children I think that it would significantly help children with their choices about acceptance and understanding - it might even help tackle the issue of bullying in schools. One of the reasons why people bully or think negatively about an issue is because they don't understand it; the presence of LGBT-based children's books in the school curriculum for young children would give them a chance to understand and accept homosexuality.


Being part of the LGBT community is a wonderful thing, and I think it's only right that young children should be made aware of this. For children being brought up by a mummy and daddy, who do not know anyone who is LGBT, it would offer an insight to an aspect of human diversity they have yet to encounter, while for children who are already feeling their difference and the children of L, G, B or T parents, it would offer them a space within a picture-book to feel comfortable and create a sense of where they belong.


After all, if I'd had access to LGBT-based books when I was younger I'm sure it would've saved me a lot of turmoil growing up and it would've helped when trying to identify who I was.




Here is a short list of young children's books that represent the LGBT characters:


Not Ready Yet by Tamsin Walker

Mommy, Mama and Me by Leslea Newman

Daddy, Papa and Me by Leslea Newman

Who's Family by Robert Skutch



Find out more about books for young children here:

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  • Natasha Holme - Tue, 15 Jan 2013 20:44:20 GMT -

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    LGBT people should be represented in children's books. It is not 'other,' it is perfectly normal and everywhere. A group of lesbian mothers called 'Out For Our Children' exists in London. They have done sterling work both in writing and cataloguing children's books that represent LGBT characters. You can check them out here: