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10 Best Children’s Books about Sexuality

10 Best Children’s Books about Sexuality

Sooner than later we need to talk about sex with our kids – and by that I mean sexuality – and for that I have the 10 best children’s books about sexuality.

Nope, not talking about sexual intercourse, don’t worry. (Although all these conversations should start earlier than later.)

Nor am I referencing gender. Gender is separate from sexuality. Don’t forget: sexuality is the object of your attraction. Gender identity is how you identify inside.

I have a list of books about gender identity over here that can help you navigate this important topic with your young children (preschool through early elementary.)

My 10 best children’s books about sexuality deals with same-sex attraction.

These are surprisingly rare, especially given how society thinks of “gay” as being the umbrella term for most topics about unconventional identities.

Further, most children’s books are about another kid’s family looking different with two mommies or two daddies. Those are great ice-breakers.

But let’s talk about the protagonist of the book actually being the gay one, shall we?

THAT’S the rub…to have a central character be the gay character and therefore relatable, sympathetic and inspiring.

The following books have a gay character as the central hero who can inspire your kids regardless their own sexual identity.

Marlon Bundo

By Jill Twiss. Leaving aside the fact that John Oliver’s joyful and touching book was meant as a parody mocking Karen Pence’s “A Day in the Life of the Vice-President”, Marlon Bundo is a rollicking book about a rabbit, his love for another bunny, and their struggle to overcome the crabby man with whom they live. It’s not about sex, it’s about love. And justice.

And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole One of the pioneering children’s books about gay love based on the true story of two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo who nested together, tried to hatch a rock, and were given an egg to foster (which they did successfully.) Seen as an excellent introduction for children to learn who families differ and love is love.

Who Am I?

Brook Pessin-Wedbee & Naomi Bardoff. Not a fiction book, but an interesting sociological study and beautifully illustrated book for children to analyze all the different ways they might identify, helping lay out the difference between sexuality and gender. (Possibly an excellent primer for confused parents, as well.)

Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with the Spoon

by Jacinta Bunnell & Nat Kusinitz

By adapting classic nursery rhymes and melding them with true children’s accounts of their non-conforming identities, this book allows little boys and girls know that convention is passe and there’s lots of ways to be themselves.

Prince & Knight

by Daniel Haack A modern fairy tale in which a prince and knight team up to fight a monster and end up finding love in the process. Can’t wait for the Disney adaptation.

King & King

By Linda deHaan and Stern Nijland This fractured fairy tale takes readers on a journey down the wedding aisle of a prince and prince. A predictable fractured fairy tale that turns convention upside down. The illustrations are often confusing, but it adds another queer protagonist to your kid’s collection.

Jack & Jim

A parable celebrating a friendhsip (that borders on love) and celebrating diversity in many forms – be it race, interests, backgrounds, and socioeconomics. It’s an ambiguous book that doesn’t smack readers over the head with messaging, leaving lots to young imaginations.

Worm & Worm

by J.J. Austrian and Mike Curato

When two worms fall in love, their friends don’t necessarily understand as they wonder who will wear the dress or the tux? Such details don’t matter when a worm just loves a worm.

Princess Princess Ever After


By Katie O’Neill

This graphic novel by an award-winning authro is for emerging readers. It breaks gender norms, embraces same-sex love, takes readers on fractured fairy tale adventures, and is thrillingly unconventional. Even the stereotoypes of the prissy princess and the tom boy are manipulated.

This Day in June

By Gayle Pitman and Kristyna Litten

A non-fiction primer on Pride Month and the history and celebrations that make all the rainbows worth it after the struggles of acceptance and and rights.

That was 10, but another author always deserves a special mention for his clear embracing of all children and all differences and all ways to love one another:

It’s Okay to be Different

By Todd Parr

Almost anything by Todd Parr is going to empower children to be who they are, love who they want, and celebrate differences. With simple, beautiful illustrations and simple, beautiful messages, Parr shows us all the most profound lessons are easy for children to understand.

Mother’s Day For Two Dads

Mother’s Day For Two Dads

A few years ago I was reminded of the unexpected realization that Mother’s Day for two dads is always kind of an issue. I was at the playground with my kid when he found a toy and wanted to take it home. It was a broken robot I’d wager was abandoned. I told him he needed to ask around to see if it belonged to any other children and, if not, he could take it home.

This was, btw, a total ploy to make him comfortable speaking with approaching strangers. #integratededucation

He approached a nanny a few feet away.

“Is this yours?”

“No,” she responded. “You should go ask your mom.”

As he turned away from her he said, “No I don’t have a mommy. I have a daddy.” He took a step, turned back, and finished, “No. I have two daddies. I have Daddy and I have Tatty.”

Then he ran onto the next guardian at the playground to continue his canvassing to figure out the owner of the toy.

The nanny smiled at me. That was the first I’d ever heard my son reference our family make-up.

It was awesome.

Often, we gay dads get a little defensive about conventional assumptions there’s a lady in our lives.

Mother’s Day for two dads, as I see on social media, often creates animosity. Lots of new gay dads will get a little huffy about being asked, “is it Mom’s day off?” or “Ahhhh, you giving Mom a break?” And we often get defensive and angry.

But we can all let that go. Societal convention is hard to break down.

My partner and I didn’t specifically discuss Mother’s Day during our months of debate over having a child. We did, however, discuss the significance of not having a mother in the household. He postulated, “But really – what if our kid’s missing something?”

I knew how I felt about the lack of a mother figure in our household: they wouldn’t be missing anything. We would love our kids as much as anyone else could and that was what mattered.

With several bottles of wine and hours of discussion, one could argue that my children might miss something by not having a biological mother in the household. What that might be is subject to animated debate.

But wasn’t I “missing” something when my father passed away when I was 8 years old? Aren’t innumerable kids “missing” something when they’ve lost a parent, or their favorite grandparent passes, or they lose both parents in a tragic accident?

The “what if’s” are endless.

But what my kids might theoretically lack (according to conventional definition) is over-shadowed by what they have: a loving family unit that will unconditionally love, support, educate, entertain, and enrich them.

So…my partner and I do not identify as mothers.

How do we “deal” with Mother’s Day for two dads?

It annoys me when people joke, “Happy Mother’s Day to you! Wait. Are you the mother? Or should we say it to your partner?”

Yeah, it’s happened a lot.

Listen, I know two dads is still (sort of) a novelty. But neither of us magically sprouted two X chromosomes when we became fathers. We’re two dads, not a dad and a pseudo-mom. We fill all the roles of child-rearing, whatever stereotypical gender rules have existed in the past. So…really – you don’t need to wish us a happy day. It’s not our day. You can simply wish us both a “Happy Father’s Day” in about six weeks.

In preschool a few years ago, our teacher gave us a heads-up: “There’s going to be a Mother’s Day project. We hope you don’t mind.”

Of course not. How can we be offended? Our kids know that some (nay, most) other kids have mothers. In each case, though, we’ve said, “Hopefully you’ll just discuss different types of families. Not everyone has a mother.”

(Funny enough, last year my son came home with an adorable clay planting pot he’d painted. Attached was a pre-printed letter wishing us, “Happy Mother’s Day.” I was mildly annoyed by that. The teacher didn’t need to include the letter. But whatever.)

I wouldn’t be opposed to “Parent’s Day.” Why do parental holidays need to be separated?- except stores might not as easily spread out the mass consumption of cards, flowers, spa treatments, ties and barbecues. But why couldn’t we combine these days into the celebration of “people who love their children”?

Just to be clear: I’m not offended by Mother’s Day or even wishes of Happy Mother’s Day. I know it comes from people who want to include me in everything that is the beauty of parenting. I just don’t think the Hallmark holiday really applies to me. So why not Parent’s Day?

Just a thought.

For me, Mother’s Day for two dads is a day when I think about the mother I lost at far too young an age.

I appreciate the increasing number of Facebook posts I see stating, “Here’s to those who’ve lost their mother and feel loss on this day.” Heck, I’m the one feeling loss, not my kids.

But for me, Mother’s Day is also a celebration of my mom’s success as a parent, without which I wouldn’t have a family at all.

So my kids aren’t missing anything. Instead, they have something equally full and rich and beautiful as any other family with two parents, a sibling, a dog and piles of dirty laundry.

In a few years, we will probably have more in-depth conversations about it. Perhaps jerks will make them think they’re missing something. Or maybe they’ll grow up identifying one of us as the “mother”…and then I promise to write about a change in my own perspective.

Regardless, we will roll with the changes. Embracing our family reality will hopefully be the least of my sons’ worries.

At least that’s how I intend for it to be.

Most important: to everyone who is a mother or identifies as a mother, thank you for loving us: your children. Happy Mother’s Day. And for those who feel loss and just a tinge of sadness as they remember their wonderful mothers: you’re not alone.

Best Books About Gender  for Kids in 2020

Best Books About Gender for Kids in 2020

We are so lucky to be raising children in 2020 and easily find the best books about gender for kids- in an era when their self-expression is supported and celebrated.

Further, there is a growing body of books out there normalizing kids who might not conform to archaic gender norms. (And normalizing is, indeed, the intended word.)

The following best kids’ books about gender have been instrumental in our household for my children to forge their own way and identities.

These books are for gender, not sexuality. There’s another list for sexual identity (pending!)

Further, if your child seems to be even remotely gender non-conforming, you might lack the words for discussion. And there might not even be anything to discuss. But books help give EVERYONE words to comprehend.

Furthermore, these are also great books for kids who are gender conforming, as well. (And their parents.)

Red: A Crayon’s Story. The most
wonderful children’s book about gender identity.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This book doesn’t hit you or your kids over the head with gender identity, but it does illustrate marvelously how being mis-labeled is confusing, but also easily solved. It’s a shrug, a celebration, a realization what’s on the outside does not need to dictate and define what’s on the inside. Grown-ups struggle with preconceived notions. Children don’t. But everyone benefits from this most wonderful book. * Particularly great for kids who are gender conforming.*

Victor’s Pink Pyjamas by Laura Alary and William Kimber

I particularly loved this book about a boy who uses logic and his own reasoning to defend his love of pink jammies. It’s too bad he feels the need to defend, but it’s a great lessons in sticking up for one’s self. Further, the logic is sound for a society accustomed to saying “pink is for girls and blue is for boys.” Bravo on this one. * Another great one for gender conformers.*

Jacob and the Purple Dress by Sarah & Ian Hoffman and Chris Case

This is the book upon which my gender non-conformer fixated and adored. It addresses the teasing, hurt feelings and resistance. It was my child’s personal narrative wrapped up in a beautiful book. While I try to avoid books that focus on teasing so that my kid is never led to believe teasing is part of her destiny, this one beautifully shows that may happen, but this is also your super power. So soar, little kid. Soar.


Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchio and Isabelle Malenfant

Kind of like Jacob’s New Dress, this focuses on a young boy dealing with the stigma of wearing a dress at school. I wish it didn’t focus on the inevitability of being teased, but again, the story focuses on another wonderful mother who imbues her child with confidence to boldly strut and proudly wear a dress.

Who are You? by Brook Pessin-Whedbee and Naomi Bardoff
This one’s a bit text book. Like…an actual text book. But luckily, little kids don’t know text books from romance novels. Pictures and colors? Bonus. Thought-provoking text? Double bonus. This one is a wonderful book for discussion and asking questions. It also has no need for negativity or thought so bulling or razzing. Triple bonus. There are pictures that allow kids to identify what they “like” not who they “are”. Plus, there’s an extended parents’ guide for discussion and a fun color wheel kids can play with and line up what might (or might not be) their identity. *This one’s great for everyone.*


Be Who You Are by Todd Parr (and all his books)

Todd Parr clearly gets it. This one’s message is profound, but the writing and pictures *might* be for younger readers. Still – universal messages of “being you” are for all of us.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea By kai Chen Thom, illustrated by Wai-Yant Li & Kai Yun Ching
For those hoping for an ethereal, poetic approach to discussing love, acceptance and expression. A beautiful book that takes you to other worlds.

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

One of the few books featuring a child of color (which is sad…we need so many more of these!) It’s a wonderful story of Julián and his grandmother who fully supports her child’s creative expression.

8 Ways Child-less Travel is the Best (Spring Break 2020!)

8 Ways Child-less Travel is the Best (Spring Break 2020!)

Last February I learned that child-less travel is the best kind of travel. But before realizing so, I frantically brain-stormed a last-minute timeshare getaway to warmer climes with the family. It would include our 2-year-old and 10-month-old.

My stress over rising airline tickets and dwindling hotel availability prompted my partner to say, “You could just go on your own.”

(Disclaimer #1: Getting away for an adult vacation wasn’t feasible. We don’t have family nearby on whom to foist two kids under 2 and we can’t afford 4 days of round-the-clock baby-sitting.)

“What?” I sputtered.

“Yeah, I mean it’s so much work to take the kids. It’s expensive, it’s a headache, and it’s not relaxing. I’m all about taking my own solo mini-vacation, later. You want to get away more than I do, right now, anyway. Seems to me child-less travel is the best kind of travel.”

(Disclaimer #2 True. I’d been very full-time daddy for the past couple months…along with titles of “actor“, “writer” and “entrepreneur“.)

“So you just go for a couple days.”

“But, but, but…” I sputtered, “No! We need to go somewhere exotic and force ourselves to have a fantastic time and take the perfect family-of-four picture that’ll serve as our Christmas card that shows how insanely happy we all are on our vacation that’s really been a total pain-in-the-ass, unrelaxing, sleep-deprived getaway from our convenient snack cabinet”.

Even I couldn’t even finish that run-on sentence without laughing at my own absurdity. I knew such a trip would be 70% headache, 25% mildly fun, 3% relaxing and 2% exhilarating.

After talking to some friends with kids who all said, “YES! GO! DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH I’D LOVE TO GO AWAY ON MY OWN FOR A FEW DAYS?” I realized I was being given an incredible opportunity.

So I did.

Here are the reasons I’m a complete convert:

  1. Saving money. Lots of it: food, airplane, drinks for one instead of four, fewer chintzy souvenirs. (I looked up how to spell “chintzy”. You’re welcome.)
  2. Saving my smart phone. I don’t have to worry about getting sand in it, recharging the batteries because Toca Boca games drained it, or capturing limitless pictures of the fifteen minutes that the kids actually entertain themselves and act cute. Instead, I Instagram my beer and my book and then run the battery down, myself, playing my own inane games.
  3. Pitying the exhausted parents around me. I got real sleep. Or I slept in. Or I lost sleep by my own volition. But I didn’t wake to a screaming child or a child demanding, “I want milk! I want milk!”
  4. Speaking of demanding: there are none. But mine. And I want them NOW!!!
  5. Anxiety-free meals. Let’s start with where and what to eat: my only dilemma was choosing the right meal for myself. No worries about whether the kids will eat or that I have to wolf down my food as fast as possible before post-dinner attention meltdown begins.
  6. Read a book. Or not. The point is, I don’t have to worry about drowning children or sun-burnt children or fighting children or napping children. Just me. Read. Or not.
  7. No more pressure to take the perfect family vacation photo. Nobody but parents want to see vacation pictures, anyway. Now I don’t need to get frustrated trying to stage the perfect vacation photo-op. Those pictures create more angst in myself than pleasure for others. I’ll take more candids at home. On vacation, I’ll just Instagram my beer and my beach read.
  8. I get to miss my children and be excited to come home. Even a mere 5 days (two of them were travel days, so do they even count?) away made me homesick for my kids. What a wonderful way to end…excited to come home. Plus, I got excited to dream about vacations that will be much less hassle-free and much more appreciated by my kids WHEN THEY’RE A BIT OLDER. In the meantime…daddy solo time. Me likey.

Any others? What justifications can you add to save future guilt-ridden parents the agony of indecision and realize child-less travel is the best!

The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads

The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads

Am I titling this “The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads” and including terms like “cool” and “stylish” within the first sentence to maximize my SEO in a way that makes me seem like I know what “maximizing SEO” means?

Absolutely.

However, I’m serious – this is the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for cool dads and stylish dads.

Amanda Kloots thinks so, and she can do like five-minute-long planks:

Additionally, these folks at TTPM? They’re like deadly serious and they think the bag rocks.

So in addition to these highly-scientific endorsements, and the fact that you’re a new parent, there’s no reason you need to compromise your sense of style. It’ll help your entire parenting mojo.

Just like fashion: it’s all attitude.

Perhaps you feel like rocking a cowboy hat walking down Madison Avenue? Just own it and love yourself for it.

Living their best life. Totes jealous, ain’t ya?

Or maybe it’s your jam to sport pink platform boots with googley eyes on Main Street, (or in this case 28th Street), then dude: werq it.

And the ECKnox Carryall diaper bag is a bag new dads (and moms!) can rock with confidence and attitude.

However, “ECKnox Carryall diaper bag” – that’s a mouth full, isn’t it? I gotta get my team on that.

Quick sidebar with the team:

  • Me: Hey, Team!
  • The Voices in My Head: Yeah?
  • Me: Can we simplify the name?
  • TVIMH: Hm-kay.
  • Me: How about just ‘diaper bag’?
  • TVIMH: But then that might limit your commercial reach.
  • Me: Perhaps, but…
  • TVIMH: Or men might think “dudes don’t carry diaper bags”.
  • Me: Eh, it’s 2019. Plus, that perspective of uninvolved dads is what I’m trying to change.
  • TVIMH: And also, you can remove the liner of your bag and it becomes a cool messenger bag for when parents have outgrown diapers.
  • Me: Right.
  • TVIMH: And isn’t that one of the selling points that justify the price of your bag?
  • Me: Totes.
  • TVIMH: That and the fact that it’s a complicated bag with lots of features and super slick styling and high quality nylon and leather detailing that jacks the price up, too?
  • Me: Do we really need to highlight the pricing, here?
  • TVIMH: Just stating the obvious from the voices in your head. Apparently you have insecurities you need to work out. That’s on you, dude.

Anyway.

When I was expecting my first kid, I wanted a slick, masculine diaper bag that announced, “I’m proud to be a new dad and I want to look good being that dad.” But in all my research, I couldn’t find such a bag.

I thought about it for another year, had another kid, and but still was confounded that such a bag didn’t exist.

So I set out to make it, myself – a bag with sophistication, super functionality, and timeless styling.

Something that made people say, “Wow. Nice bag. I wonder what it is? Oh, wait a minute! That’s that designer diaper bag for dads. Ohhhh…he’s a new dad! Ahhhh.”

And all hearts would melt on the subway/playground/street/hottest-new-brunch-restaurant-in-the-trendiest-neighborhood.

(Lucky for you, I wrote about my journey here and here but also here and moreover here.)

Do I harbor the illusion that men are going to flock to buy bags for themselves? In some cases, yes. But don’t worry, I’m not delusional – this bag is branded for men and marketed to the women who will be 70% of the purchasers.

So.

Why’s this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for stylish dads?

Form and function.

The features:

This is the best diaper bag for dads because it has 14 pockets.

How can you go wrong? This is also the best diaper bag for dads because two of those pockets are for bottles and it’s REALLY the best diaper bag for dads because one of those bottle holders accommodates a bottle of wine for those particularly tough days on the playground. (Might want to get your own paper bag to protect your assets while drinking in a playground, though.)

This is the best diaper bag for dads because there are frequently no changing stations in men’s rooms.

So I made it the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a zip-open changing station for those times there’s no changing station in the restroom. However, there might be times you can’t be bothered to leave the playground; in which case you wanna show your parenting badassery by changing your kid’s diaper on the playground like a BOSS (who’s not overly freaked out about germs. Because kids are petri dishes. Make peace with the germs. It builds character and resilience and immunity.)

This is the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a padded laptop sleeve.

Not only is there a laptop sleeve that makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads, but there are also three sleeves in which you can stow wallets, phones, pens, sunglasses and those quick-access things you just don’t feel like carrying in your pockets (cuz your ass looks better in your pants when you aren’t carrying bulky things. More on that at another time.)

The best diaper bag for dads has mesh pockets inside the liner so you can organize how you want, but see what’s in the pocket.

The coolest diaper bag for dads would have to be easy to clean, so we made it that way. The liner is removable with a hidden zipper. That way, you can wash the liner and even replace it (INSERT LINK FOR NEW LINERS, HERE. OOPS – however I need first to design and manufacture replaceable liners and THEN insert the link for purchase).

Furthermore, what REALLY makes this the best diaper bag for dads is once the liner is removed, there’s an inner liner that’s slick and black and professional, so you can continue to use the bag for years as a messenger bag after you’re done with the diapering.

You can also quickly convert the bag to a backpack (which many bags can do, but they aren’t the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads.)

Finally (and seriously, y’all…this is my favorite feature) what makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads is the instant access to wet wipes.

Through an interior pocket open with a magnetized flap, you can be friggin’ Oprah on the playground.

  • You want a wet wipe? Boom. Here ya go.
  • Need a wet wipe? Boom. Here, Daddy.
  • Ahhhh…forgot your wet wipes? Boom. Here ya go, Mommy.
  • You definitely need a wet wipe, snot-nosed kid whose mom is buried in her phone and isn’t paying attention to the fact that her kid is wiping snot and kid pink eye all over the monkey bars.
  • Oh, and you need a wet wipe, son. Yes, you do, kid. Come here. Please come here, now. Right here to Daddy. Come, right – Junior? Come here right now and make Daddy look good so the other parents on the playground don’t judge him for being just another helicopter parent whose kids don’t actually mind him at all. Junior? One. Two. Don’t make me get to three. Two and a half. Two and three quarters. Boom Here’s your wet wipe.

There ya have it, folks. The best and coolest diaper bag for dads.

And in no way is this bag just meant for dads. All my girlfriends say “why would you only make this for dads? I’d totally carry this. I never liked my stupid pink, puffy bag!”

Exactly, ladies. You’re invited, too. But I started the company to cater to, well, me.

And I’m an only-child actor. So my needs come first.

Lemme sell a few bags, establish my brand, and bring a ton of other really cool things to market to expand into a lifestyle brand, and then this bag will be all about the gender-nonspecific stylish parenting.

For now? I gotta grow my niche.

Won’t you help?

Buy a bag.

It’s an investment that’ll make you feel good inside and out for years to come.

Can any other bag do that for you?

Nope. Because they’re not the best and/or coolest diaper bag for stylish dads.