Every year, it seems, the selection of children’s books featuring diverse characters gets better and better. As a mom who considers it important to introduce my kids to a wide range of experiences and perspectives, I can’t get enough options for diverse kid lit. And while I’m constantly on the lookout for books featuring characters of different races, religions, and living situations, I’m particularly keen to find good books about the LGBTQ community, since the lesson that “love is love” is one that I consider absolutely indispensable for my kids. We’ve found some great books (like And Tango Makes Three!) and today, I have one to share with you that I fully expect to become a classic:
This Day in June, by Gayle E. Pitman
On This Day in June, a city is getting ready for its annual Pride Parade – and what a fun, colorful, joyful celebration of love it’s going to be!
The streets are festooned with arches of balloons forming – what else? – rainbows! Neighbors wave rainbow flags out their windows as motorcycles begin roaring down the avenue.
Parents and friends walk alongside members of the LGBT community. A mom carries a sign declaring “I love my gay sons!” while supporters on the sidelines chant and wave banners demanding equality under the law for all citizens.
Families are celebrated too, as children scamper through the crowds and more signs proclaim “Love Not Hate.”
Civil rights marchers get in on the act, too. The LGBT community has had many legal fights in recent years, and someday I’m looking forward to telling my kids about all of the times that love has won in the courts.
Relationships between members of the LGBT community are normalized in exuberant, joyous color and sweet rhymes like “Loving kisses / So delicious.”
The book ends with a roaring message of unity and support for the LGBT community. (I always add an extra cheer when I get to this part.) And (unpictured) endpapers explain the significance of each of the rhymes on the preceding pages, so that parents can educate themselves and answer their kids’ questions. My kids are very young and not asking questions yet, but I expect I’ll be relying on the excellent information in this book when they get a little older.
(Image sourced from Google.)
So… like many of my friends (online and off) I’ve been struggling to find the right words to say about the hideous violence and unspeakable tragedy that unfolded in Orlando earlier this month. I’ve been shocked – saddened – and angered. Shocked that someone could live with the kind of hate in their heart that prompted such a horrific act. Saddened beyond belief for the families that were ripped apart as good people gathered in a place where they should have been safe. Angered, once again, that our do-nothing Congress has bowed to special interests and allowed guns that have no place in a civilized society to fall into the hands of the very people who should never ever be able to get them.
And I couldn’t stop thinking – when will be the final straw? I’d have thought we’d have done something after Virginia Tech. But we didn’t. And then there was Newtown, and I thought, now they’ll have to fix this, because how can you not respond when a monster brings a gun into an elementary school? But again, nothing. And now here we are, again, after going around this not-so-merry-go-round too many times. I’m sickened and dismayed and ashamed of my representatives, and rest assured, I will tell them how ashamed I am of them in November.
I normally try to keep politics off this site (but if we’re friends on Twitter, you’ve no doubt heard my opinions about gun control and the Constitution, and I’ll just say – I’m as far to the left on this issue as you can be, and if you want me to explain why the Second Amendment doesn’t say what you think it says, I’ll be happy to, over a friendly cup of coffee). I hate to politicize a tragedy, and I find it disgusting when politicians do so, but I’m not sure it can be avoided anymore. Because Orlando could have been prevented. Newtown could have been prevented. Virginia Tech could have been prevented. And Congress – you’re complicit.
Enough anger. As you can see, I’m having a really hard time stringing coherent sentences together. And I feel very helpless, like I haven’t done enough and can never do enough to be an ally to the LGBT community. I can vote, and I will, with them in mind. And I can read books like This Day in June to my children, and hope that seeing LOVE between the pages of their storybooks in their earliest years will help them grow up to be loving people themselves. Tolerant people. People who believe in the beauty of all kinds of relationships and all kinds of families. People who stand up for the voiceless and the bullied. People who refuse to accept heinous inaction from their elected representatives. People who march in pride parades (whether as LGBT people themselves or as members of PFLAG or any of the other support organizations that do such good, important work) and who stand with everyone who stands for love and against hate.
(To end on a whimper, I’ll be boring and obvious and remind you all that nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice. Opinions are my own and do not represent my employer. Respectful comments are welcome but comments using offensive, demeaning or hateful language, in my sole judgment, will be deleted.)
Love must win again and again and again, or there is no hope for us.