By Alex Temblador
Within the last week, there have been some major things going on in the children’s book world, especially children’s books that feature modern families. As you might have guessed, this major news had something to do with the Pope, disabled super heroes, and a transgender children’s book. How, you may ask? Since we know you’re dying to find out, let’s not wait any longer!
- Major Publishing House Publishes Transgender Children’s Book
Scholastic recently published a transgender children’s book, George, which may bring transgender awareness among teachers, parents, and students all across the United States. George, by Alex Gino, features George, a fourth grader that knows she’s a girl, despite being born a boy. Unable to share her identity with family and friends, she decides to try out for the school’s play, “Charlotte’s Web, in hopes that she will be able to show family and friends that George is really “Melissa.”
George is a wonderful trans narrative for kids between the ages of 9-12. Not only could it help many transgender youth, but it could also provide teachers, students, and parents a way to be introduced to transgender children and the issues that they face. This highly relatable narrative hit the stands at 50,000 copies and is hoping to make an impact in the world of children’s books.
Alex Gino, the author, said, “This is only one trans story. This is not the only trans story. And I really look forward to more diverse trans stories and more intersectional trans stories. Trans stories where being trans is only part of it. Trans stories about people of color, people with disabilities, people who don’t speak English as their first language, and also have a trans narrative.”
- Dad Creates Children’s Comic Books With Disabled Superheroes for His Daughter
For many families in the world, there is an extreme lack in children’s books that represent their family. Father, Dan White, felt the same way when trying to find books that his daughter, who uses a wheelchair due to spina bifida, could relate to. Though the father did find some books with kids in wheelchairs, he was disappointed in that not many of these characters could be looked up to. So he wrote his own children’s comic book, with disabled superheroes!
The comic book series will be titled, Department of Ability, and features Emily, an alien, a ghost, and two animals, all with disabilities that they use as their super powers. For instance, Emily has a multi-functional flying wheelchair and an awesome catch phrase: “Eat my wheels!”
White said, “I wanted a broad range of diverse characters that would be unique, original and be fun for all kids to look [to] and emulate. [The characters] show the wider world that disability can be a power, that it’s easy for disability to be mainstream without being frightening or misunderstood.”
White hopes to release the children’s book in 2016.
- The Pope Blesses a LGBT Children’s Book Author
This week an LGBT children’s book author received a blessing in the mail from, ironically, the Pope himself. The Pope has previously stated that children need a “mother and father,” a sentiment that reflects the Catholic Church’s standard position on the LGBT community, which makes this blessing quite interesting.
Francesca Pardi is the author of Piccolo Uovo, or The Little Egg, an LGBT-friendly children’s book that has been banned from Italy’s public libraries by Mayor Luigi Brugnaro. This is the same mayor that Elton John has criticized on Instagram for his discrimination of LGBT families through the censorship of LGBT children’s books.
Piccolo Uovo features an unhatched egg that goes in search of a family and along the journey meets lesbian rabbits raising a family, gay penguin dads, a single-parent hippo, and adoptive parent kangaroos of a polar bear.Pardi had sent about eight children’s books with LGBT families to the Pope in June after the recent censorship of LGBT family books in Italy. She sent a note along with the books that read:
“Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics … A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”
The letter she received in July from a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state, Peter B. Wells, in representation of the Pope read: “His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values.”
Though some state that the Pope’s blessing shouldn’t be taken in the context that he supports LGBT families, it is an interesting gesture to have been made. Is the Catholic Church’s leader a little more accepting of LGBT families than he has made us believed? Although we might not know any time soon, the Pope sending a blessing to an LGBT children’s book author might make more Catholics tolerant of LGBT rights. Though it seems like they might already be in the U.S. A recent survey found that 6 in 10 American Catholics were for gay marriage, 76% were for laws to protect the LGBT community from discrimination, and 65% of American Catholics were against “religious freedom” laws used by businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community.
Regardless, it’s been an interesting week for modern family children’s books. They can inspire, they can teach, and more importantly they can change the world. The power of a children’s book, especially a modern family’s children’s book, is more than we might be able to imagine.