ISBN – 13: 9781939775139
A boy confides in a friend that he doesn’t know what to say when he’s teased for having two dads, and when kids say that they’re not a real family. In their conversation, his friend helps him see how her family (with a mom and a dad) isn’t all that different from his: they both have parents who love them, and they both love their parents. And it’s love that makes a family.
Love Is Love shows that gay families are simply another kind of normal, and that all children value the love of family. This heartfelt dialogue provides a gentle way to discuss discrimination.
- kirkus reviews
“A heartfelt affirmation of queer love.
A first-person text presents several children, all wearing rainbow-heart T-shirts, grappling with others’ homophobia. It then documents their eventual movement toward pride in their families, simply by talking through their hurts and then arriving at the conclusion that “Love is the same. Wherever you live. Whoever you are. And whomever you love.” Even as the different children talk about being teased for having gay parents (the word “gay” is used as a default or umbrella term, with no instances of words such as “queer,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” etc.) or feeling otherwise targeted, the illustrations also start to show kites in the distance, first red, then orange, then yellow, and so on. These kites end up forming a heart in rainbow colors in the sky when the various children and their families come together at the end of the book.”
A wonderful picture book reminding us all that Love is Love.
BY MAY 20, 2018 | BOOKS FOR KIDS ||
I’ve always said that teaching children about love is the easiest thing in the entire world. So maybe the new picture book, Love Is Love, is more for some of the adults in our lives?
Dr. Michael Genhart’s sweet and moving story, illustrated beautifully by Ken Min, is told from the point of view of a young boy who starts off with an idea so many of us as parents can relate to:
He then goes onto describe that it’s a rainbow heart shirt he loves, and he’s being teased because he has two dads.
And here’s where my heart broken in a zillion pieces — until the protagonist’s wisdom put it back together. He speaks in plain terms about how he doesn’t like it when kids say that being gay is gross, or when people say “that’s so gay” to describe something negatively. He doesn’t like when people tell him he shouldn’t wear a shirt he loves to keep from being teased because that’s unfair. And he especially doesn’t like when people say “you’re not a real family.”
He says it’s mean. He says it hurts.
And really, is there any more we need to tell our kids about kindness and empathy? Can’t every kid, unfortunately, relate to being on the receiving side of bullying of some kind?
There’s more to Love is Love though — like a description about how the boy’s parents are really like any other parent, complete with their ski slope honeymoon “photos.” He even points out how there are so many gay people in our lives and communities, from a teacher to a police officer, to famous artists and athletes we all know and admire.
While the author never comes out and says it, it’s a great reminder that when we disparage an entire group of people, we may be surprised to find out those very people are some of the people we like best in our lives.
They might even be in our own families.
As a bonus, there’s a great discussion guide in the back of the book, plus a note from the author to kids, and one just for parents. It’s so clear that the book is informed by author’s impressive 25-year background as a clinical psychologist specializing in kids with same-sex parents, because he knows exactly how to speak to kids in the most simple, clear terms, never talking down to them.
I think the author’s choice to use the word “gay” over and over in the prose is brilliant. As with any word that can be misused and weaponized, the repetition and plain speak about gay families and gay people and gay couples just completely takes any edge right out of the word.
And what’s really cool, as you might be able to see from the illustrations here, is that the protagonist actually changes throughout the book. There are all kinds of kids wearing that heart rainbow shirt — both boys and girls of all different races — so that really, the story is not coming from one child, but from the world of children craving kindness, understanding and acceptance.
I really hope this book ends up on a lot of bookshelves — not just for kids who have two moms or two dads (though this would be an awesome Father’s Day gift for a two-dad family!) but especially for kids who don’t. My own tween daughters, who are way past picture book age were utterly captivated by the story.
They told me, “let’s keep this book mom — don’t give this one away.” And that’s saying something.
- Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
“LOVE IS LOVE makes plain the truth of its’ title for all kids and parents. Children and young adults still face harassment because they have LGBTQ parents. In accessible and gentle language LOVE IS LOVE tells the simple story of these families…spoiler alert…they are just like every other kind of family. The point is no child should ever feel stigmatized for having LGBTQ parents and by embracing all families we are elevating our own and proving that LOVE IS LOVE.”
- Amanda Hopping-Winn, Chief Program Officer, Family Equality Council
“Love is Love graciously calls into focus the fact that LGBTQ families are full of the same main ingredient as their peers’ families: love. In a day and age when we tend to focus on our differences, Love is Love is here to remind us that the love of family is a shared value across cultures and family structures, and it gives our children the language they need [to] explain that.”
In a number of discussions across cultures and the world, children of two dads dressed in rainbow heart t-shirts confide in friends that they’re being made fun of. There’s a visual storyline of flying kites that come together to form a rainbow, just as all the children come together with their parents, allies, and a larger supportive community to celebrate that what makes a family is love.
The message is simple and beautiful, and the modeled response to mean words is uplifting:
So when some kids say, “Your dads are gay!”
I’ll just say, “Yes, they are!”
And when some kids say, “You’re not a real family!”
I’ll just say, “Yes, we are!”
Definitely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid!