Recently I heard about a new book for school-age children called “Gay and Lesbian History for Kids.” Written by Jerome Pohlen, this book will be published this month by Chicago Review Press. One thing that I’ve always felt is important for all LGBT people is to know our own history. After reading this book, I found that there was a lot that I didn’t know, and this book has the potential to educate both young people and older ones.
The book begins with a story about an Illinois lesbian couple and their son who, in 2011, was dying of kidney failure. One of the mothers was not allowed to see her son, since they were not legally married. The mothers stood up to the hospital staff and eventually influenced our laws to be changed to reflect all families. Then, we are brought through history up to 1900, and we learn about all of the famous people throughout history who identified as LGBT. We briefly see how homosexuality was viewed in different cultures throughout history before we return to an American view of the LGBT rights struggle, which brings us through every decade of the 20th century, and then into the 21st century. Half of the book alone covers events post-1980, a testament to just how far we’ve come in such a short time.
The book is written for children in mind but the grammar and language used is easily accessible to any adult. There are also 21 different activities for children to complete, which will help them identify with the material they’ve already read. For example, children are encouraged to listen to the blues songs of Bessie Smith and then write one of their own. In another example, children are encouraged to remember a loved one by making a quilt panel, just after reading about the AIDS Memorial Quilt. These interactive projects can be fun for everyone.
Well-vetted and researched with as many quotes and pictures as possible, this book is engaging and can teach pretty much anyone about the LGBT rights struggle as it has affected us as Americans. My hope is that this book finds its way into the hands of as many children as possible in the coming years, and adults should take a look too!
“Gay and Lesbian History for Kids” is available for purchase in paperback ($17.95) and for e-readers ($16.95). To buy your copy, visit chicagoreviewpress.com.