A mom and her real-life daughters bring us a children’s book with the story of two girls whose mom is dating a woman. Some of the very first LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books had a similar theme, but it’s one that’s taken a back seat to more recent depictions of long-term same-sex parent couples. Here’s why it’s a theme worth reviving.
Life with Mommy…and her Girlfriend, by elementary school teacher Noreen Spagnol, is a simple tale drawn from Spagnol’s own life as a single, divorced mom to daughters Hannah and Tayleigh. The book shows the sisters enjoying their days at home, in the park, and at various other places, along with their mom and her girlfriend. The focus is on interactivity rather than plot, with each spread also asking young readers questions about their families and what they like to do together. A page at the end lets them draw in their own family. Hannah and Tayleigh not only star as the protagonists, but are also the illustrators, making the book a true family creation.
In recent years, with marriage equality as the headline LGBTQ rights issue, picture books with LGBTQ parents have mostly featured stable couples. One of the first LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books, however—Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite (1990)—featured a boy, his divorced dad, and the dad’s new boyfriend. And the lesser-known 1996 work, Zack’s Story: Growing Up with Same-Sex Parents, by Keith Elliot Greenberg, is a wordier photo essay (best for older elementary school kids) about a boy growing up with his divorced mom and her girlfriend. It’s a little pedantic, but stays positive–it shows the boy’s dad as still engaged as a parent and supportive of the mom’s new relationship, for example.
Still, those books feel somewhat dated now (and are out of print, though available used), leaving children like Spagnol’s searching for places to see families like theirs. Thanks to Spagnol for filling this gap and reminding us that despite more same-sex parents now having kids after becoming couples, it doesn’t always happen that way. It’s about time we had a children’s book with a fresh take on a family where a parent has a new, same-sex romantic interest. Spagnol plans to write even more books with children’s viewpoints on other parental dating scenarios; I’ll be keeping an eye on her website for announcements.
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