Finding my Family is a guest blog series exploring how families are represented in children's books, whether that's due to set-up, ethnicity, neurodiversity, disability, LGBTQIA*, socio-economic status or any other facet of diversity.
Anna Taylor is a primary teacher and early years specialist with over 20 years experience working in the sector. She now runs Naturally Learning with Anna working directly with parents, supporting them to understand their child's stage and style of learning and showing them ways they can support this.
Anna has a free group on Facebook for parents of children aged 3-6 years, called 'Teacher On Your Team'. She also has a new group to support parents of Reception and Year 1 children during lockdown, "Remote learning in a lockdown – with a teacher on your team!" a community of parents juggling remote learning and other commitments, with the expert guidance of a qualified teacher.
Who makes up your family?
My family is myself and my daughter. I am a solo mum. My daughter is donor conceived via IVF, using donor sperm.
Why is inclusion in children’s books important to you on a personal level?
As a teacher, I always prioritised choosing books that reflected the lives and experiences of the children in my class. But after I had my daughter, the importance of this became even more clear. Most books I found showed a family as a heterosexual couple, with one or two children. This didn't reflect our family! I did research and found gorgeous books that reflected our family. I wanted my daughter to see families that looked like ours: families with one parent. My favourite ones are the ones where the one-parent family just 'is' and is not relevant to the story, or even commented on. Books 'about' diverse families are fab of course - but we needed great fiction books too.
Can you recall any occasions when you’ve found representations of yourself/your family in children’s books?
The series of books for young children by Emma Dodd are lovely. They show a parent and a child in them. These were a favourite, when we read them, my daughter would say 'that's mummy and that's me!' Those are the special moments!
How did it feel to find these representations, not find any representation or to find inauthentic or negative representation?
It is constantly frustrating that books don't show a more diverse range of families! There doesn't need to be a 'message', just reflect society!
How could someone authentically represent you/your family in a children’s book? What nuance would make it authentic?
Showing a positive, confident mother with a young child.
If you or your family could be in any children’s book (as yourselves) what book would it be?
Alfie Gets In First has always been a favourite. My daughter would love to have been in that one ... although she would probably be standing on the chair a lot sooner!
What is your favourite children’s book? Why?
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. A beautiful story of a parent's love for their child.
If you want to take part in this blog series, fill out this form to submit your responses.