Let’s talk about representation. Again. I know. Sometimes it seems like representation is all I talk about, and I’m sure sometimes I sound like a broken record. But representation matters and not just in numbers. If you’ve done a pure numbers game and ensured that well over half the stories in your classroom or home feature children from marginalized communities- cool. That’s a start. But we also need to look at the kind of books we are sharing. The kind of representation being shown.
If all (or even most) of the books you have featuring Black characters are stories of the civil rights movements and oppression, that’s a problem. If all (or even most) of the books you have featuring queer folks are stories that are about queer folks having to overcome bigotry at school or home, that’s a problem. If all (or even most) of the books you have featuring indigenous folks revolve around a mythologized, monolithic past, that’s a problem. And so on. And so on.
The books we share with the children in our lives matter. What does it tell a child when the only books they see themselves in are stories of being othered, of oppression, of trauma? What does it tell a child when the only children they see in stories that are just about everyday life are ones that do not look like them? And what does it tell children who are of the majority about the world when the stories they see show them as having endless possibilities while those from marginalized communities only seem to appear in books that tokenize them?
The choices we have in books are getting better, day by day and year by year. I have dozens of books featuring children of colour, that are about kids just being kids. But when it comes to books about my own community, it gets harder to find. Queer kids books are very much still white, and very much still based in “after school special” narratives. Queer kid is different and other characters need to learn to accept them; stories designed to teach folks to tolerate diversity rather than embrace it. And almost always, which very few exceptions, featuring white queers. Forgetting that we come in all colours.
But- enter Flamingo Rampant. The books they put out are different. Books that feature queer children and families just being families- having baby showers and celebrating Ramadan (a queer kids book about Eid celebrations, people. That’s a thing that exists in our world now, thanks to Flamingo Rampant.) Trans parents just shown as parents, trans kids just being kids. ABC books (Noora’s favourite book is ‘M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC”.) Just joyful, exuberant, and charming books that show queer folks just being human. Without any ‘after school special’ oppression narratives thrown in.
Even more amazing- all of their books are #ownvoices stories. Their books are written by people who have lived the cultural experiences they write about. I’ve never seen a queer Muslim picture book before they published “Moondragon in the Mosque Dragon”. The books Flamingo Rampant have put out feature queer folks from an incredible array of backgrounds- much like queer folks in the real world. And that’s an incredible thing.
And now they have a new Kickstarter out. This new set of six books will include a book of colours, a book of poetry, a space adventure and more. I own every single book Flamingo Rampant has put out over the years, and obviously I’m backing this set too. Every book they publish is a breath of fresh air. And if my adult, white, raised in a liberal, accepting bubble, queer ass feels relief and gratitude at seeing books like theirs- imagine what a child who has never seen themselves or their families in stories will feel.
Representation matters. If you care at all about making sure queer children get to see themselves and their families in stories in healthy, positive and everyday ways, back this Kickstarter. If you can afford it- back for two sets and donate one to your school or local library. If you don’t have their previous books, there’s a backer level for that too. There are fourteen days left for the Discovery set to be funded. Go help make it happen, friends.
HELPFUL KICKSTARTER LINK FOR THE THIRD TIME: