There's no such thing as a bisexual picture book..... so Happy Picture Book Month?
When we first started this blog, Sarah sat down with her former roommate (a children’s librarian) and set out looking for bisexual picture books. We figured there must be some somewhere. After all it had been like 20some years since Heather Has Two Mommies and there are tons of gay, lesbian, and transgender picture books now. There must be somewhere, from some small press or dedicated but obscure author, bisexual children’s picture books.
We have been at this blog for almost 20 months and we have not found a single bisexual picture book. No picture books about bisexuality, no picture books explaining bisexuality, no picture books with bisexual characters. No quirky thing from the 70’s or the 90’s with terribly dated pictures. No cutting edge kickstarted thing the just came up now.
None, zip, zero.
We’ve talked about this more with former roommate and with other children’s literature professionals, and we’ve narrowed it down to two possible reasons:
1) The word bisexual has the words ‘sex’ and 'sexual’ in it This is terrifying to parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and publishers.
2) Picture books are very much focused on helping children understand a situation in the here and now. When queer children’s picture books do exist, they are often about helping children understand a friend or relative who is in a same-sex relationship, transitioning, or doing the things queer people do that straight people also do - like get married and have babies. A few are fantasy stories about princes and princesses that fly in the face of conventional gender expectations.
This means that it’s not immediately easy to use a picture book to explain bisexuality. If Mommy has a girlfriend now that will be the focus of the book, not her identity label or her former boyfriend.
But while those two reasons may explain a lot, it’s still not good enough.
This is Picture Book Month and Carolyn Dee Flores recently had this to say about the power of picture books:
Picture books ignite our souls.
I didn’t own every one of the books I read when I was little, but I FELT like I did. When I was really young, and read a book, and saw the pictures, and felt the pages, I remember thinking, “Wow, someone thought enough of me to do this, to make THIS for ME.” It made me feel important. Worthy. Like I had a future.
Think about all the kids out there that will one day grow up to be bisexual. Or all the kids out there who have bisexual parents and relatives. Plus all the bisexual adults out there who would LOVE to give a bisexual picture book to a child in their life….
Picture book authors, publishers, and illustrators are dynamic, creative, and passionate people. To them, we’re issuing the following challenge:
Find a way to make bisexual picture books.
Soon. Now, if you could. Because it is long past due.
- Sarah, Ellie, and Evan