Pride Month Picture Books, a celebration! - Garry Parsons

Pride Month is in full swing and this year the UK celebrates 50 years of the Pride movement. 
For the month of June, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies celebrate their identities, accomplishments, and reflect on the struggle for equality.

Pride Month marks the police raid that prompted the Stonewall riots which in turn led to the establishment of LGBTQ+ rights. The raid took place during the early morning of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, a popular gathering place for young gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. The LGBTQ+ community held a series of demonstrations to protest against the raid and called for the establishment of safe spaces for gay people, where they could congregate without fear of being arrested or becoming victims of violence. These riots served as a catalyst for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Since then, the LGBTQ+ community annually commemorates the years of struggle for civil rights and the ongoing pursuit of equality in the form of a pride celebration, now widely observed with parties, parades, concerts, and other events that celebrate a diverse identity.

In the UK, the first official UK Pride Rally was held in London on July 1, 1972 (chosen as the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969) – so 2022 marks the 50th year of the Pride movement in Britain.

So what does this have to do with picture books? Well, we are all different to a greater or lesser degree and every day we meet people different from ourselves. It is vitally important that children get to read about all different types of people and families to promote an attitude of empathy and acceptance. Everyone should be able to see themselves represented in the books they read to support a positive environment for each of us so we can be free to be who we are.  

I've picked out some examples of brilliant picture books supporting diversity and asked some of the creators involved for their views on what Pride month means to them personally and why picture books are so important.

Nen And The Lonely Fisherman - Ian Eagleton & James Mayhew

James Mayhew is the illustrator of Nen and the Lonely Fisherman.

"For me, Pride month is both an opportunity to celebrate and feel part of an amazing, welcoming community and also a time to reflect on those who fought so hard for LGBTQ rights and how we must never take those rights for granted. The future relies on educating people and that's why I feel strongly that we need picture books to show children positive examples of different kinds of relationships. For too long the heteronormative 'happy ending' has reinforced the problem. Books like Nen and the Lonely Fisherman gently teach acceptance and empathy." - James Mayhew.

 Nen And The Lonely Fisherman - Ian Eagleton & James Mayhew

Forever Star - Gareth Peter & Judi Abbot

Gareth Peter is the author of Forever Star illustrated by Judi Abbot, a rhyming story about a same sex couple adopting a child.

"To me, Pride means family. We have a two daddy family and we have adopted two amazing boys. This was all possible because of Pride and all that the amazing LGBTQ plus community have done. So I will always be thankful and appreciative of Pride for allowing my dream to come true and become a dad. Pride should always be a colourful, accepting, tolerant and happy celebration and that's just like our family. Happy Pride everyone!" - Gareth Peter.

Harry Woodgate is the author and illustrator of Grandad's Camper. In this moving story, Grandad tells his granddaughter about the adventures he used to have with Gramps.

"Pride is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our LGBTQ+ friends, family and community, but more than anything I feel that it's a time to reflect on and campaign for the progress that still needs to be made, especially in the face of increasingly damaging legislation.
We know children's books are powerful tools for building empathy, kindness, confidence and emotional literacy, which is why it's so important that every child is able to access literature which is why it's so important that every child is able to access literature which reflects a diverse and inclusive range of identities, experiences and family setups." - Harry Woodgate.

Grandad's Camper - Harry Woodgate

Llama Glamarama - Simon James Green & Garry Parsons

Simon James Green is the author of Llama Glamarama, a story celebrating differences and of being true to yourself.

"One element of Pride is about being true to yourself, living your life fearlessly and boldly, and celebrating everything that makes you unique. I think that's something everyone should embrace, whatever their age and that's why it's so important to see that message in picture books" - Simon James Green.

For me, Pride month is an uplifting recognition of the strength of my identity and a validation that whatever family set up you have, a family is a family.
Here are a few more picture books worthy of your attention this June and in the months and years beyond.

The Pirate Mums - Jodie Lancet-Grant & Lydia Corey

The Pirate Mums - Jodie Lancet-Grant & Lydia Corey

Hello Sailor - Andre Sollie & Ingrid Godon

Hello Sailor - Andre Sollie & Ingrid Godon

We Are Family - Patricia Hegarty & Ryan Wheatcroft

Uncle Bobby's Wedding - Sarah S Brannen & Lucia Soto

Happy Pride Everyone!


Garry Parsons is an illustrator of children's books and the illustrator of My Daddies! also written by Gareth Peter. A picture book celebrating same-sex parents, shared story time and introducing children to the different kinds of family in the world today.

My thanks to James Mayhew, Gareth Peter, Harry Woodgate and Simon James Green for their heartfelt contributions.
Garry's work can be seen here
Follow Garry on twitter and instagram @icandrawdinos

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