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Representation matters — and that includes on your child’s bookshelf.
Whether you’re a parent in a same-sex relationship or are just looking to diversify your child’s library, there are an increasing amount of children’s books that tell stories of familial love through the lens of same-sex partnerships.
Just like with pregnancy (and the facts of life in general), there aren’t hard-and-fast rules on when you should talk to kids about same-sex relationships and alternative pathways to parenthood.
Having the talk about where babies come from can be tricky for any parent. But, for same-sex parents who may have gone the route of adoption, sperm donation, and/or surrogacy, some folks might feel an added layer of complexity.
“There is no exact perfect moment when to discuss sex and sexuality with children — instead it should be an organic evolution of conversations that happen between parents or caregivers and their children,” says Roseann Capanna-Hodge, EdD, a licensed professional counselor and certified school psychologist in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
“As with all kids, you should start out with developmentally appropriate language and look for opportunities to begin conversations about all topics related to human health and development.”
So, adding some engaging and colorful children’s books to your child’s library can be a big help when it comes to representing your family or helping them understand families who are different from yours.
Same-sex couples can initiate discussions that can be more educational and formal, or they can happen when your child inquires about another child having two mommies or two daddies, Cappana-Hodge says.
“With all children, you want to be available and present when they have questions about same-sex relationships or discussing anything important,” she says. “Being open and non-judgy is important to help your child feel comfortable about sexuality in general.”
There are also a number of resources available to help you navigate those discussions in ways that are easy enough for young children to understand. Here are eight children’s books to help you do just that.
We chose the below books primarily based on reviews, while also focusing on finding a diverse range of storylines on same-sex couples wanting to grow their families. We were also mindful of choosing with cultural diversity in mind.
This book, written by Lesléa Newman, is written for very young children and showcases a loving relationship within a family with lesbian parents. From playing games to bath time, “Mommy, Mama, and Me” takes readers through a typical day, showing just how similar all families truly are.
There is also a “Daddy, Papa, and Me” version written by the same author, with the same concept for two male parents. One Amazon reviewer who is not in a same-sex relationship noted that this book was a good resource to teach her own children about acceptance.
This book, written by Carla Lewis-Long, is a great resource for same-sex couples who conceived their child via surrogacy and want to explain their path to parenthood in a positive, kid-friendly way.
According to reviewers, one of the standout elements of this book is the lasting relationship the parents have with their surrogate after their child is born.
Prince-and-princess-themed storylines aren’t exactly known for showcasing different variations on a modern family. But this colorful book, written by Daniel Haack, uses the age-old theme for that very purpose, telling the story of a queer-friendly fairy tale.
And while there aren’t any children in the tale, “Prince & Knight” is still a great bit of representation for gay couples in a traditionally heterosexual genre. Amazon reviewers also praise the book for the prominent theme of acceptance among the characters’ family members.
“Zak’s Safari,” written by Christy Tyner, is a story from the perspective of Zak, the child of a lesbian couple. In the book, Zak shares how his moms met, fell in love, decided they wanted to have a baby, and how he came to be.
This book is a good resource for parents of kids who are starting to express curiosity about the science of human reproduction as it not only touches on the process in general (in a very simple, kid-friendly way), but also with regard to using donor eggs or sperm.
This colorful book from author Anthony Hale features a same-sex animal couple, aiming to educate children about cultural diversity within a family structure. It also highlights different variations on a modern family: children conceived via surrogate and children brought home through adoption.
Authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell tell the story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins who live at the Central Park Zoo who long to have a family. So, with the help of the zookeeper, they adopt and raise a baby penguin, named Tango. One Amazon reviewer shares that it’s a good classroom book to help teach preschoolers about equality and love.
In this book, written by Miriam B. Schiffer, Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day celebration — this sets the stage as she tells her story of having two dads who take care of her and support her every day.
Although she’s nervous about it at first, bringing her dads to the party helps explain love, acceptance and the different variations on the definition of “family.”
This book tells the true story of how the rainbow flag came to be, as well as activist Harvey Milk’s fight for gay rights. While it is filled with pictures, it may be a better option for older kids who are interested in learning about social justice, inequality, and the battles the LGBTQ community have faced, conquered and continue to fight.