Kyme and Susan Fox-Lee’s What Are Parents? (2004)

What Are Parents? (2004), written by Kyme and Susan Fox-Lee and illustrated by Randy Jennings, is one example of a surge of books featuring lesbian and gay parents that arose in the early-2000s. It is deliberate and thorough in its depiction of diverse family forms as well as religious and ethnic diversity.

A nurse wheels an infant from the delivery room down a long hall full of open doors that reveal rooms with a range of happy, nurturing, loving families. At the end of her journey the baby meets her moms.

The authors are parents who decided to write a story that mirrored their experience forming a family with the express purpose of educating about family diversity. What Are Parents? is a thoughtful book, and like many that ride the wave of gay and lesbian parenting picture books, necessary for its time. However, it was clearly published on a low-budget and has an amateurish quality that makes other titles a better choice.

This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!

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