“I love myself just as I am.” So opens Together—A First Conversation About Love, coauthored by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, and illustrated by Ann/Andy Passchier.
Published by Penguin, this picture book is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-faceted, and not merely queer friendly, but queer-positive among its many depictions of love between adults of all different types — complete with simple explanations, such as word balloon from a Sikh gentleman walking his dog, waving to the reader and saying, “I’m a man who loves other men—I’m gay.” He’s also wearing very cool low-top vans and an African-American lesbian couple sit on a nearby bench, with their son playing nearby.
Because Megan Madison is a trainer for the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, and Jessica Ralli is the coordinator for early literacy programs at the Brooklyn Public Library, not only are the concepts and language geared for young thinkers, there are also questions, from asking children about their own families, to asking them to think of ways to help all feel included.
There is even a section about dysfunctional and painful families, so that even those children can feel seen. It tells them, “If someone hurts you, and anyone says it’s because that person loves you, they’re wrong.” Additionally, it encourages the child to find a person or place that can help the child feel safe, even if sometimes “the safe place may even be in your imagination.”
And it lets them know that as they get older, they’ll be able to make more decisions of their own.
Finally, it helps young readers know that many people are invested in building a world where “everyone can make a family with anybody they love.” Not a message likely endorsed by the Republican party, but one most queer people can fully embrace.