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The Pirate Mums

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Everyone around him encourages him to be what he seems to be, without seeing what he really is inside. The book is layered with grown-up voices of reassurance– ‘your sister is just a bit tired’ – but the child’s emotional load is voiced through the raging storm (the river of rain that falls from the sky, the wind crying wildly as the reality of illness dawns). For School Diversity Week (20-24 June), Grant has recorded a reading of her new book as a video resource that primary schools can watch with their pupils. Grant will also be visiting primary schools to read from her new book and answer questions from students.

The clever ways in which the life and actions of crayons are laced into this story makes it a very funny and charming tale, but it’s also a desperately important one about being true to oneself.Seeing families like theirs in the stories their teachers read, as well as those they’re read at home, will make kids of LGBTQ+ families feel far more included in the classroom community. Relatable stories LGBTQ experiences are the epitome of variety; they exist outside of the normal ways that many of us were taught to live, and they’re all the more beautiful for that. The first, unsurprisingly perhaps, is so that children like mine, with two mums or two dads, see themselves and their lives somewhere other than in their home setting.

Most obviously, this is a tale of gender identity. A blue crayon has been mistakenly labelled as red. Inside, he is blue but all outward signs point to him being red.

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Lydia Corry studied painting at the Royal College of Art. Her first book, Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror by Natasha Farrant, was nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021. She has illustrated several picture books.

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Representation matters

In fact, if they don’t, Me and My Dysphoria Monster is a wonderful lesson in empathy for children who are growing up in an increasingly diverse social landscape. UK residents only. Entry closes at 11.59pm on Sunday 27th June 2021. Terms and Conditions apply (PDF). Grant, Oxford University Press and Just Like Us (the LGBTQ+ young people’s charity) are partnering to bring children and families stories about diversity to primary schools in the UK. This fantastic book challenges the equation that "conformity equals acceptance", celebrating instead the power of being solidly you. While Billy grapples with his own emotional landscape(shushing his mums, willing them to be "normal" and dreading peer embarrassment), the other children in the book say nothing, neither noticing nor seeming to care about his mums’ "strange" quirks. Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, added: “We’re so thrilled to be partnering with Jodie Lancet-Grant and Oxford University Press to bring much-needed representation and stories about LGBT+ families to more primary schools this School Diversity Week.

A huge thank you to Jodie and all at Oxford University Press – we hope the resources will help many more primary schools celebrate diverse families.” It does this through an easy-to-comprehend metaphor that every child can follow, whether they suffer with dysphoria or not. I believe this representation in early years settings does a huge amount to help us build an accepting, loving society.”It’s incredibly important for children to see their own lives reflected in the characters in books and we love how Ava’s dads are a key part of Ava’s story without the fact that they are an LGBTQ+ family being the central theme. With main character mums who are strong, kind, and clever, this laugh-out-loud picture book (with optional sea shanties!) will help children understand that being different is what makes you special and that all families arrrrre worth telling stories about. In a world where we are increasingly aware of, and knowledgeable about, gender dysphoria in trans children, a book like this helps to put complex feelings into simple words. Have conversations about the kind of treasure children would keep for years and years to come. What does their treasure chest consist of? Norman has grown a pair of wings, and he loves them. But he is afraid of what his parents will say; afraid of judgement or rejection or punishment; afraid he is somehow wrong.

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