Search on SLJ.com ....
Subscribe to SLJ
Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

In Search of the Elusive Lesbian Mom

On a typical day at work I might be called upon to come up with a list of children’s books pertaining to one topic or another.  Recently I decided to pull together a GLBTQ list for grades K-3 and one for grades 4-8.  Easy peasy.  I know a lot of the books, both old and new, and putting them together is a breeze.

The picture book list wasn’t all that hard.  Books with two dads are pretty easy to locate (the 10th anniversary of And Tango Makes Three, the upcoming Stella Brings the Family, and so on and such).  Thinking up moms . . . that was a little harder, but eventually I was able to locate Antonio’s Card, Heather Has Two Mommies (the newly illustrated edition, of course), and In Our Mother’s House.  Not a plethora, but serviceable.  Forget about finding any books about girls defying gender roles, though.  Plenty of boy in dress books and even a couple transgender titles, but gender fluid girl titles?  Not much on offer.

As I moved onto the middle grade list things got tricky.  Middle grade novels with two dads or gay guys in general?  Again, easy peasy.  Popularity Papers, The Manny Files, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, The Accidental Adventures of India McCallister, etc.  Middle grade novels with two moms . . . huh.

It took a lot more effort to find such books.  They had to be currently in print, for one thing.  And I really wanted moms.  Just normal old moms.  Not an aunt’s roommate or anything.  Finally I had to tap my social media friends and together this is what we came up with:

Middle Grade Titles With Two Moms

  • Best Friend Next Door, by Carolyn Mackler
  • Case of the Stolen Scarab & Case of the Vanishing Valuables by Nancy Garden.
  • A Clear Spring by Barbara Wilson (it’s aunts in this case, but we take what we can get)
  • The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
  • I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
  • My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari
  • Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder
  • I wasn’t able to confirm this but apparently all three Maggie Brooklyns by Leslie Margolis including Girl’s Best Friend, Vanishing Acts, and Secrets at the Chocolate Mansion
  • The Flower Power book series by Lauren Myracle
  • From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (though we bought the reprinted edition for our YA collections, in part because of the cover).

That’s all she wrote, folks.  But if you’ve more you can name of either this (or picture books with gender fluid gals) I’d love to hear ’em.  No YA, though.  It’s easy to get YA and middle grade mixed up, but I work strictly in the children’s book realm.

Share
About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. A few books about girls who bend gender roles (not truly gender fluid, but close):
    Phoebe and Digger by Tricia Springstubb, about a girl who loves her toy truck (also includes a girl bully)
    The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires, about a girl who loves to build things
    Also, there are good suggestions on this list (for both girl and boy gender fluidity):
    https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/34011.Children_s_Books_that_Break_Gender_Stereotypes#15798657

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Thank you, Heidi. Bending gender norms tends to be as close as these books get. Interesting, no?

  2. What about Susan, from The War That Saved My Life? She’s far from a “normal old mom”, I suppose. Not to mention that her relationship remains undefined. Okay, she doesn’t make the list. But I still found her to be an interesting character with regards to her previous relationship and interactions with her community.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I did consider her but I figured that with a dead partner it wasn’t quite what I was looking for (for various historical reasons). But I loved the book certainly and thought of her.

  3. Rough, Tough Charley by Verla Kay is a picture book biography about a transgender man, suitable for K-Grade 4.
    Wandering Son (volume 1) by Shimura Takako addresses gender fluidity for Grades 6-12.
    In Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper, lesbianism is discussed by Emily and her classmates in regards to a teacher, plus Emily’s mother appears to have had a previous relationship with a woman. Grades 5-8.
    These titles are on the Edmonton Public Schools Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Recommended Fiction and Nonfiction for K-12 Schools, available online:
    http://www.epl.ca/sites/default/files/images/Marketing/sogi_recommended_fiction_non_fiction_resource_guide_epsb_epl_2014.pdf

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Yep, but on the middle grade side, it’s trickier, yes?

      • Yes, I agree that those lesbian mothers are hard to find in middle grade fiction. Thanks for calling attention to this!

  4. Do you know X: story of a fabulous child by Lois Gould? Maybe it’s time to bring it back to print.

    Don’t forget “Buster’s Sugartime” by Marc Brown, part of the Postcards from Buster series. I think it’s an early reader level, and maybe more non-fiction, but does feature two moms, which caused it a heap of trouble back in the day.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I love X. For anyone who’s curious about it, it has a long, nice write-up in Phil Nel’s Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature. And I forgot about Buster! Good call.

  5. You probably already know about “A Tale of Two Mommies” by Vanita Oelschlager, but it is one of our favorite picture books! I doesn’t have much of a “story”, but my son loves to hear it.

  6. Hi Betsy: I shot Leslie an email and she confirms there are in the Maggie Brooklyn stories are lesbians. They play a big part in the Secrets at the Chocolate Mansion story.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Thanks, Stacy! Just another reason for we the New Yorkers to love the series.