The short answer is everything. And nothing.
The more interesting answer is deeply rooted in how we parents teach our children about love. What is love?
When my husband and I got married for the first time, and no, it wasn’t legal back in 2002, we spoke about our love giving each other wings.
But that metaphor about romantic love isn’t super-relatable for a young child. When our daughter was in preschool, love was hugs, and cuddling, and story time at night, and sharing the amazing (and even tough) parts of life together. And seeing Daddy and Papi holding hands. And family hugs of the three of us, plus a favorite teddy bear.
With time, she’s come to understand that romantic love is different than family love, and she celebrates along with us that her Daddy and Papi found each other to love.
A close up of the best anniversary card ever, which came with two hand-made rings!
For me, being a parent is a lot about keeping your eyes open to the wonder your child has as they experience moments in life for the first time. That first taste of chocolate. That first time on a roller coaster. That first time diving under a wave at the beach. It’s like we get to live the joy and exhilaration of discovering it all over again, with them.
And yet, most children’s stories about love are still the heteronormative Disney paring off of princesses with princes, or at least guys with noble hearts. And, frankly, everybody in those stories seems pretty darn gender conforming (with the exception of Mulan, my personal favorite…)
Where are the stories for our children who don’t conform to gender stereotypes?
Where are the stories where love isn’t about gender, but beyond gender?
So when I started working at Little Pickle Press, a children’s media company out to make our world a better place (love that vision!), I was beyond excited to discover this gem in their collection:
Snutt the Ift, An Intergalactic Love Story
Written and illustrated by Helen Ward
For scientist and intergalactic explorer Snutt, nature on a new planet is beautiful, wonderful… and empty, with no one to share it with. Then Snutt makes one more discovery that changes everything!
With lush and wondrous illustrations of the flora and fauna of an imagined world, this gender-free story of beauty found—and shared—invites readers of all ages to treasure our relationships and our planet.
It’s won four awards: The Mom’s Choice Gold Award, The Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award, The Independent Publisher Gold Book Award, and The Nautilus Silver Award.
Snutt the Ift is the perfect book to read with our kids, and share. Because it shows them that just in like our LGBTQ families, love can go beyond gender. It illustrates, quite literally, that identity can go beyond gender, too. And it’s a way to talk about how love means sharing something meaningful with someone you care for.
Our publisher at Little Pickle Press (my boss) agrees. So, in this Valentine’s month, we’re offering a special discount on our favorite intergalactic love story, 35% off orders of Snutt the Ift, An Intergalactic Love Story with the coupon code WeLoveFamilyEquality. Or, also for the entire month of February 2016, go with our #ShareTheLove discount and get a free copy of Snutt the Ift, An Intergalactic Love Story when you spend $50 or more on our website.
Thanks for allowing me to share about a book I love.
And Happy Valentine’s Day!
Lee Wind wears a bunch of career hats, all brightly colored. He’s a blogger at his own “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?” at leewind.org and for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators at scbwi.blogspot.com He also works as Vice President of Digital, Communications and Community Engagement at Little Pickle Press. At night and on the weekends, he writes. His debut nonfiction middle grade book, The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay? will be out in September 2017 from Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster.