Aug 15, 2011

Series: Where Are the Gay Parents in Children's Literature?

Earlier this summer, a few of my writing friends and I engaged in several #TwitterGames, in which we attempted to out-wit and encourage each other. One day's topic was #WritingCliches, especially in children's literature. Topic after topic was breached, and Kris Asselin and I went off on a particular tangent about parents in kidlit stories. I suggested #GayParents as a cliche, then clicked TWEET. Immediately, I realized gay parents are not a cliche. In fact, I could not think of one kidlit story with gay parents. And Kris put me in my place on the subject too :P

I quickly felt the urge to seek out titles that explored the existence of gay parents, seeing as I plan to be one someday as well as an English teacher who might want to showcase such a topic. Kris's friend supplied a list of titles*, which we used as a reference. I went straight to the website of my public library and searched for some of the titles. I became frustrated when none of the books on the list were at my library, except a few of the picture books. I received the books I reviewed through interlibrary loan which carried a one to two week wait and most of the books came from the east side of Michigan.

In the last month or so, we have been finding and reading a number of titles known for having gay parents. Some are meant to be recognized as such while others are more subtle. I chose to read Jack, by A.M. Homes, and Out of the Shadows, by Sue Hines. I am also highlighting the recently arrived picture book, titled Monday is One Day, written by Arthur Levine and illustrated by Julian Hector. I will add in a few other titles as they come across my desk via ILL. I can assure you that each book I read was touching and poignant in its own way and no two books were alike in nature or message. Together, this series has created a well-rounded impression within me and I look forward to sharing that with you.

AND I am not alone, Kris will be also be exploring other titles in the next two weeks and we invite you to join the discussion and let it be heard. You may take the banner above and let me know that you'd like to join via email and we will link to your blog on the day you're posting. Our schedule is to post Wed and Fri of this week and Mon, Wed, and Fri of next week.

*Visit Kris's blog for a growing list of titles recommended by reference and some great resources related to the topic. Kris is the queen of comprehensiveness!

And check out this awesome picture Heather took in celebration of gay parents! It totally brings me back to my early days of playing LIFE.


  1. Thank you so much for inviting me to do this blog series with you Jon!

    And LOL on being the queen of comprehensiveness. If you only knew...

    Can't wait to see where the discussion takes us this week and next!

  2. You know, I never really thought about that. Not many kiddy versions of The Birdcage movie out there huh? This really strikes my interest. Now I'm going to sit around all day and wonder why.

  3. I can think of very few examples of gay parents in literature, and most of them are picture books. I'm interested to see your expanding list.

  4. You know, I can't think of many or any titles off the top of my head. Looking forward to exploring your and Kris's lists and finds!!

  5. I just found - amazon has a whole list of titles dedicated to this topic:

  6. I'm looking forward to his discussion.

  7. Kris - I like thoroughness!

    Brandy x 2 - Thanks for the link! I will take a look.

    Anna - Picture books seem to be the easiest way authors have been able to write on the topic. I am grateful for those pb's, but I think we need diverse books at all levels.

    Kelly - I wonder if you might ask your kids if anything sticks out to them?

  8. Great topic. While I've read several YA novels with gay characters, I haven't read a single one with gay parents. (I think this will change with time.)

  9. The only one I could think of, before I saw Kris' list was HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES. Which prompted a discussion one night at dinner, with a friend of mine, who said that parents had that book taken out of their school (What year is this??). My friend supported this action, basing her argument staunchly in her religious beliefs. We talked about what impact this environment would have on her children if they were gay themselves, and she only paused, and said, "I thought of that. I don't know what it will do to them, if they are gay."

    I don't know why I am sharing this story.

    But, here's a link to a few books, that I found:

  10. MG - I agree, it will change with time. I'm not trying to be impatient, I just want to speed up the process, at least in our circle of the world.

    Heather - I'm sorry that that happened...I have that happen to me a lot too. Awkward...

  11. Oh Oh, I just read LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR (but you probably already knew that one). Off to look at Kris' titles!

  12. This is awesome. Being the slowest reader ever, I may not have time to take part, but I'm definitely going to be reading the posts, and hopefully, maybe, I can find one of these books, read it, and throw down.