LGBT-themed children’s book shows the importance of diversity with messages of love
When Leslea Newman published her children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies in 1989, it was met with shock and outrage. It was the first children’s book to depict lesbian parenthood and, along with Michael Willhoite’s Daddy’s Roommate (which was released the following year), it laid some important groundwork for the thousands of LGBTQQIP2SAA children’s books that would be published as years went by.
Michael Pallotta, a gay dad and granddad from Pickering, Ontario, is hoping to follow in Newman and Willhoite’s influential footsteps with the release of his children’s book Celebrating Families, the first in an upcoming series of picture books. As a parent and a member of Canada’s LGBT community, Pallotta says he understands the challenges of parenting in today’s environment, and hopes his books will help families and educators share messages of love, kindness and acceptance.
“In 2015, the Ontario Government updated the sex-ed curriculum for young students provincially, and that really triggered things for me,” Pallotta told IN. “I decided to create this children’s book as my contribution towards the LGBT acceptance movement, and because everyone should be able to see their own family setup reflected in the books they read.”
Featuring images by UK-based artist Lewis James, Celebrating Families shares its simple message of acceptance as a transgender character joins a gay couple, a lesbian couple and a heterosexual couple to celebrate a big day. The characters come in different shapes and sizes and from different backgrounds, and encourage readers not only to be kind to one another, but to always be proud of who they are.
“There are no children in this book, only pets with their parents,” says Pallotta. “That way children can relate in any way they choose and can identify as they wish.”
And, after the story is done, the book doubles as a colouring book, so children can channel their inner artist and interact with the characters and ask questions while learning what different kinds of families look like.
Michael Pallotta’s Celebrating Families is available online at amazon.ca. You can learn more at www.celebratingfamilies.ca.