Guest Author: Tati Quiroga, Director of National Family Networks at Family Equality Council
Like many households, story time is a staple of our bedtime routine. As an LGBTQ parent of color in a transracial family, it is so important for my two sons to read books that reflect our family’s diversity. For us, this quiet time before bed is a perfect opportunity to have meaningful conversations about the daily happenings, answer questions, discuss touchy subjects, and reassure our boys of how much they are loved. My wife and I intentionally seek out children’s books that reflect those goals. However, finding LGBTQ+ inclusive books is a challenge. I cannot tell you how excited I was to hear about OurShelves.
OurShelves is an LGBTQ+ and other diverse book subscription service that helps to accelerate change in the children’s book industry for our families and all families seeking more affirming and inclusive stories for their children. I am not surprised to learn that between families like ours and our allies, there is a significant audience for LGBTQ+ and other diverse representation in children’s books that is currently underserved and underrepresented.
As a parent, I am happy to hear about OurShelves’ dual mission. First, it seeks to connect high-quality, hard-to-find LGBTQ+ and other diverse stories to families seeking them through a subscription service. The OurShelves Curation Team combines the superpowers of academics, librarians, teachers and parents to curate beautiful, age-appropriate and affirming stories with diverse characters and then delivers them to my door!
Alli Harper, OurShelves Founder and queer mom to a five-year-old and a new baby on the way, reports, “There are some LGBTQ+ books that actually have come out in the last few years, but because the books are not about the LGBTQ+ identity (which is so important in many ways), these books are often not labeled as LGBTQ+ books in their descriptions. The unintended consequence is that our and allied families, teachers and librarians cannot find these books.”
The second part of their mission is to advocate for the many books we still need. With so few books with LGBTQ+ characters, it is no surprise that we lack books representing the wide, intersectional diversity of our families. Currently, OurShelves is collecting data from LGBTQ+ families about what we’re looking for in our stories that we cannot find. OurShelves then (anonymously) communicates that data to publishers. And, OurShelves not only encourages publishers to create more LGBTQ+ books, but OurShelves is also growing the marketplace to be able to guarantee publishers sales when they do create such content.
As a busy parent balancing work and family, I’m very excited about having high-quality, hard-to-find LGBTQ+ inclusive books delivered to my door, which is not just convenient, but it gives my sons something to look forward to. We are very grateful to have a resource like OurShelves!
To learn more about OurShelves visit www.OurShelves.com. Members of the National Network of LGBTQ Family Groups receive a 15% discount on their first box.
To learn more about the National Network, receive your discount code, and join for FREE, visit National Network for LGBTQ Family Groups.