Here’s a fact: kids are very open to learning things, and are not born prejudiced. Those things are learned.
That can be seen int he freak out responses adults are having to the news that there had been a book written for kids where Santa is in a queer, interracial relationship. Because there are a lot of adults very upset that a made-up character could actually represent real people.
Those real people aren’t white, heterosexual cisgender people. Yet again.
It’s starting to sound like a broken record, isn’t it?
Teaching kids that queer people exist, that non-cisgendered people exist, that non-white people aren’t all bad is so important. Not just so kids become well-rounded people in their own right, but they are able to spread that out into the world, and it makes it a safer place for so many people.
Also, news to a lot of adults, kids aren’t fucking stupid. They will eventually work out you’ve been hiding stuff from them, and they will resent you for it.
I absolutely feel we should be honest with kids when they start asking questions, but I am not condoning going over board. You will know yourself how much the child you are talking with will be able to comprehend. And if you don’t, because you don’t know the child well, find out, or direct them to an adult who can have the conversation with them. Kids are naturally curious, and we shouldn’t dull that at any stage, and particularly not when it comes to talking about gender, sexuality and race.
Introducing Teddy, by Jessica Walton and Dougal McPherson. Yes, I am biased because TEDDY, but this book is charming and lovely.
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell and Henry Cole. Based on the actual story of Roy and Silo, Central Park Zoo’s gay penguin couple, this is cute af. LOOK AT IT.
I’ll also give a shout out to David Walliams’ The Boy in the Dress. As much as Walliams’ can be an arse, writing something like this that teaches kids that it is ok to experiment with their gender expression, that’s huge.
Let’s look after our kids, and we can use literature to do that.