Bookshelf: Banned Books Week
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
September 29 2011 6:00 PM ET
Heather Has Two Mommies (Alyson Books, 1989) Prices vary
Last printed in a 10th-anniversary edition, Heather Has Two Mommies is a minor classic as the first lesbian-themed children’s book ever published. With an enduring message of love and tolerance for the ages 2 to 6 set, the book follows preschooler Heather, who has two moms but discovers her friends all have different types of families. Her teacher tells her “each family is special.” In the afterword to the anniversary edition, author Lesléa Newman, who has written dozens of books, says that growing up in a Jewish home made her aware that there were no families like hers on TV or in picture books. She set out to correct that for children of LGBT folks. Since then the book has been banned and burned in bonfires, held up in the media as part of the culture wars, and even made it to New York City's Whitney Museum of American Art (as part of an exhibit called "The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000," along with photographs of Andy Warhol and a self-portrait of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe). It even got read out loud as part of a U.S. Senate session, and as Newman tells it on Beliefnet, folks even lost their jobs supporting in (including Joseph Fernandez, New York City's former chancellor of education, who supported including Heather in New York City's Rainbow Curriculum, a resource intended to help teachers teach diversity).