Every night, I read 1-5 books to my 4 year old daughter, depending on how long they are. She doesn’t just look a lot like me, but also shares my love of books. There’s literally a pile of books under her desk because she hates when they’re neatly organized (which is very much NOT like me). I can see her room when she’s a teen: organized chaos. Definitely, absolutely.
Anyways, it struck me a few weeks ago that I’m a little horrified about some of the books she has. Not because they’re horrible or offer terrible stories/messages, but because of the parents in the books.
Most of what she loves are animals and trains and trucks. She also has a particular fondness for Harold and the Purple Crayon. Otherwise there aren’t actually a lot of humans in the books she enjoys. And the few that she has are usually passed over in favor of animals. Her newest favorite is about a foodie flamingo (her absolute favorite animal).
But, one night, she didn’t want to pick the books. It was the night before the winter solstice, so I picked out a couple of books with snow. One was a Pinkalicious book and the other was Fancy Nancy. She likes both little girls, but won’t often pick them.
I noticed, though, that both girls have a mom and a dad. Now, my daughter has a mom and a dad (and her parents both have a mom and a dad and, well, everyone she knows has a mom and dad), so it’s all perfectly normal to her. But then I sat there, reading, and thinking that there’s a good chance she’ll know someone with two moms or two dads or single parents or grandparents or aunts and uncles and, well, people who are not strictly mom and dad raising and loving them.
This year, I’ve decided to focus on books with either diversity or exceptionally accepting societies. It seems rather sacrilegious to read books to my little girl with just a mom and dad. When she does go for books with people in them, I’d like her to be exposed to children who have not just mom and dad. I want to normalize families that are different from her own. I want her to see that it’s not weird for children to not have strictly mom and dad so she’s less likely to see it as something bizarre and more likely to be welcoming and accepting. Or so this mom’s heart can hope.
So, dear friends, I need help. The number of picture books out there is overwhelming and I just don’t have the time to sift through all of them. So if you happen to know of picture books with children who have non-traditional parents, could you please send those titles my way?
Thank you so much!