Branching Out

Usually, I walk across the street to the local library branch which is chock full of books for my daughter to read. I have found that going alone and picking some books is a good idea as many she chooses are odd or too difficult for her to read. We still go together and get these books, but they end up getting returned much more quickly. Amongst the ones I have selected, there have been quite a few that she has asked for again and have become favorites. It is an amazing resource to have such a child-centered branch library so close.

However, there are books from my childhood, books that I hear about from reviews, and books on important topics that I have not found in the shelves. There are so many books, that combing through the shelves might not reveal all of these, but the library belongs to a network of local libraries as well as all of the other branches of our town’s library, and it is easy to hop online and request that books be sent to our library.

I recently read a review of some books by Lesléa Newman who writes many children’s books with LGBT themes. I requested Daddy, Papa, and Me, Mommy, Mama, and Me, and Daddy’s Song. In the random accumulation of books that has happened, this is one of the areas that has not had as much attention as I would wish, so I decided to change that.

The first two are board books that follow a child through many activities with his/her parents. In both books, the child is fairly gender neutral. This sets up a two parent and one child family structure. The moms comb hair, rock in a chair, pack food, take walks, play on the playground, play hide and seek, hug, lay the child down for a nap, cook, read, bathe the child, and tuck him/her in for the night. The dad book starts with dialog with the child having a more active role. The dads are doing other things when the child engages them. They then move into fun play with much more active scenes. They play with costumes, cars, and airplanes. They paint and cook, play music, and catch balls. They sew and have a tea party. At the end of the book, they are worn out, and the child tucks them in on the sofa to rest. It is a much more engaging book, and both the parents and child have a greater breadth of roles.

Daddy’s Song, is a fanciful goodnight song from a dad to his daughter. It is beautifully written and illustrated. The message is even if crazy things happen, Daddy is still here and he loves you. There are some basics about race, class, and gender in this book, but the connection between father and daughter is gorgeous. These books are certainly worthy of moving from being checked out to becoming part of our home book collection.

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