My main idea is to provide a list of picture books with queer and feminist characters, themes or readings, which are neither aesthetically nor politically terrible. I’ve studied children’s literature and work in a library, so I’m naturally lots of friends’ go-to person for gift ideas for the little ones in their lives, and thought it made sense to put my ideas in one place. I will also sometimes write reviews of other (less queer) rad books, and write the occasional longer piece on various themes around queer/feminist children’s literature.
It’s increasingly easy to find picture books with LGBT characters in libraries and mainstream bookshops, with lots of publishers wanting to cash in on the pink pound, but often these are no more progressive than those written in the 80s and 90s. I hope to highlight books that go beyond narratives of queers being “just the same as” straight people, (same-sex) marriage as happy ending, or femme-phobic “pink stinks” narratives which equate girls’ emancipation with the rejection of femininity. I’m looking for books which are a genuine pleasure to read, not the clinical “All About My Family” teaching aids which you can find on the “parent shelf” along with books on hospital visits and the death of a pet. Many of the books I will discuss don’t feature explicitly queer or feminist characters, but, subtlety is the friend of the recruiter, allowing us to read between the straight lines and get our messages into even the smallest hands.
I am a white, queer woman from a middle-class background, and I live in Manchester, UK. I will aim to fill in some of the gaps in my perspective and understanding by chatting to and looking for contributions from some of my friends, comrades and fellow picture book enthusiasts with different experiences. I’m also an adult, and not a parent, but will try to get the perspectives of at least a few smalls along the way.