As a new or expecting parent, it isn't always easy to find the right books for yourself or your kids, especially if your particular family is considered non-traditional.
If you do subscribe to the typical nuclear family model, maybe you want to start early with educating them on topical issues of the day like race, gender, sexuality, and discrimination.
Perhaps you simply want to educate yourself, so you're better prepared for answering their questions or explaining something relevant to them. Your to-be first grader might have a school friend who has two dads. Or a minority in a predominantly Caucasian school, and as kids do, they'll have questions for you.
And they won't be shy about it.
A child's insatiable curiosity aside, you may also already be fielding questions from other parents and people in your life.
We all know that families are about love and support, regardless of their dynamic or composition. No matter your ethnicity, orientation, or identity, family is family. Helping ourselves and our kids understand that every family is unique, yet still, a family is crucial in developing healthy social behaviors for all.
While you can certainly plan to have the right sort of books for your kids when you start reading to them, we'll focus on books for the parents in this article.
You can't educate others unless you've learned a few things yourself first.
Our picks will include a mix of fiction and nonfiction. They will explore the importance behind each book to clue you in on how they can best help you raise an open-minded and well-educated child.
In essence, the goal of most of these books is to show the value of breaking away from and refuting stereotypes in a healthy and educated manner, will benefit new families both today and tomorrow.
What exactly are these stereotypes?
Not until the last couple of decades or so, parenting books stayed the course of sticking to parenting themes that catered around heteronormative parenting styles. While this is great for families with this type of dynamic, the reality is that not all families operate similarly.
The long-standing stereotype has been that homes consist, one mom, one dad, and children who identify as the gender they were born as.
The reality, however, is that not all families are built like this. With the ever-growing acceptance of the diversity of families, you do not have to look far to find a family that subscribes to other dynamics.
You may know someone, work with someone, or even go to school with someone who has a different family construct than your own.
Our list of books will work to deconstruct many common stereotypes — specifically, the most common type, a heteronormative family structure. Instead, many homes operate with same-sex parents. Of course, many households also operate with just one parent in the picture.
Many of the books on our list will go over helpful tips and guides on how to navigate parenting as a same-sex parental household.
Other stereotypes that exist are ones surrounding children. For children who feel other than the gender, they were born as the books on our list will help expecting parents navigate through this emotionally driven time.
Other stereotypes of discussion include the popular misconception that there is only one way to conceive and begin building up your family.
The books on our list do a fantastic job of covering all the bases when it comes to navigating parenting in whatever diverse familial makeup you are working with.
Not until the last two decades have publishing houses started pushing the boundaries of reflecting what children and adults go through.
Today, your traditional parenting books have expanded into ones that are more diverse and inclusive. The books on our list are geared towards a variety of family structures and will help provide tips in advice to being compassionate when talking about different types of families.
These types of new-age parenting guides that follow these "taboo" or non-traditional themes help to breakdown the stereotype that individuals who identify as such don't exist.
The books that dare explore these themes are so popular because there are so many readers who can identify and learn from them.
Why are these progressive topics important to acknowledge?
Not only do these topics in parenting guides help dispel the myths that surround minorities and LGBTQ members, but the reality is there are hundreds of thousands of parents who will be able to identify and utilize these tips for their own families.
Having these progressive parenting books available helps to create a space for parents who feel like they don't have a space in the world.
Where can you get these parenting books?
The beauty of all the parenting books on our list is the fact that you can access them anywhere that books are typically available.
This means you can go to your local library, your local bookstore, and of course, online to purchase or rent out the book of your choice.
Our list of books that are breaking down stereotypical barriers
It is time to look at our picks of the top parenting books that address these stereotypes surrounding families.
The books on our list have been praised for their ability to help expecting parents and families find a space in which they feel comfortable.
- Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes By Christina Spears Brown
Blue is for boys, and pink is for girls. This color-coded gender identity distinction is the number one way many expectant parents map out the journey for a child's life in their early years - and even before they are born!
In the groundbreaking guide, Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes, author Christina Spears Brown tackles this notion by providing helpful tips for expectant parents.
In her guide, parents will gain insight on how to raise a child with methods that allow them to avoid gender stereotype restrictions. Kids are more than a gender, and all too often, children fall victim to being placed within restrictive boundaries because they are a boy or a girl.
This guide helps parents move beyond gender stereotypes that will all too often have a limiting impact on that child's development.
2. Julian Is a Mermaid By Jessica Love
If you have got a budding reader at home, then this next picture book for children aged four and up is a great story that simultaneously challenges heteronormative gender stereotypes.
This easy to read story tells the tale of little Julian, who is fascinated by mermaids after he sees a group of ladies dressed up in mermaid costumes while he's on the train.
After seeing their beautiful outfits, Julian rushes home to make a mermaid costume of his own.
But when his grandmother catches him in his unexpected wardrobe, she immediately swoops in with love, praise, and support.
This is a great book to read with your little one as the themes that can be pulled from it are easy to grasp and understand. Parents get the insight of a child and adult figure as they navigate the concept of identity.
Throughout the plot, first-time parents and expectant parents can get some real insight into how to navigate the traditional stereotypes that revolve around gender.
Not only is it engaging and filled with beautiful artwork, but it is the perfect conversation starter about breaking traditional gender stereotypes with your child and other parents as well.
3. Gender Neutral Parenting: Raising Kids With the Freedom to be Themselves by Paige Lucas Stannard
This next guide allows expectant parents to understand the subtle ways they can avoid contributing to the many gender stereotypes that surround children as they are growing up.
Gender Neutral Parenting is an easy to understand guide that gives real-world scenarios all children will encounter as they grow up. These scenarios are centered around moments that distinguish between boy and girl "characteristics."
For example, conventional, gender-specific child-rearing trends like telling a boy to "man up" during a time of fear are examined with this helpful guide.
Instead of the traditional methods used to deal with these scenarios, parents will get insight into other ways to handle the situation without propelling common gender stereotypes.
As a new parent, learning from the journey of others is one of the best ways of navigating through parenthood. This next parenting guide follows the plot of a mother with two different boys: Her oldest, who falls right in line with traditional male tropes, and her youngest, C.J., who prefers pastel tutus and the color pink.
Lori Dunn talks about her journey of raising her child to be exactly who he is supposed to be. Through her experience, Raising My Rainbow helps enlighten expectant parents on how to give your child the ability to express themselves in a loving, nurturing, and accepting environment.
The relatable, easy to follow plot allows you to truly see what it means to allow your child to explore the gender spectrum.
This eye-opening guide is one of the best guides to read for new and expecting parents because it gives you insight into the struggles and difficulties of minority children born in different circumstances.
From a family's race to their class to their family life, many stereotypes are challenged through this guide. Expectant parents will get the change to understand how children from different societal backgrounds face different experiences in life.
This eye-opening guide gives expectant parents the ability to consider many of the stereotypes that are associated with disenfranchised groups.
6. The Family Book by Todd ParrEnter your text here...
Understanding the different types of families that exist are important when starting conversations with your children about the way different families operate. One book that will help both you and your child in this awareness is the Family Book by Todd Parr.
In this illustrated picture book, you and your child can take a look at the way families with two moms, two dads, or single-parent households operated.
This book is excellent for starting the discussion with your child as soon as they are two years of age.
7. The Journey of Same-Sex Surrogacy: Discovering Ultimate Joy by Jason Warner
This next selection is an eye-opening read because it tackles several different stereotypes when it comes to families. For starters, there is a breakdown of the breakaway of the traditional family dynamic.
There is plenty of input and guidance about same-sex couples who are aiming to start a family.
In addition to that, this guide tackles the up and down rollercoaster of bringing life to the world. Obviously, with same-sex couples, different methods of starting a family have to be considered. This guide helps to shed life on how to deal with the often complicated process of surrogacy.
What makes this parenting guide such an eye-opening one is the fact that it tackles the stereotypes of same-sex couples who are looking to start a family head-on.
The "norm" is challenged, and the stereotypes that same-sex couples can't have families are put to bed with this in-depth exploration of surrogacy.
It's often thought that two-parent same-sex households are somehow different than two-parent male and female households are. This notion is far from the truth, as demonstrated by The Ultimate Guide for Gay Dads. This helpful guide helps parents explore the many facets that two dad households have to overcome.
In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about approaching parenting. From how to deal with surrogacy to all the ins and outs of lawyers and adoption, this guide will aid you.
For the ups and downs of bringing a child into this world, this helpful guide can certainly be of service as it is one of the best handbooks for two dad households as it tackles many of the difficulties you are likely to face.
One of the best resources for new and veteran allies of the LGBTQ community that helps breakdown the stereotypes surrounding them is the Gender: Your Guide book.
This book delves into the details of what to do and how to respond when it comes to an understanding of the dynamics of the LGBTQ community.
What is great about this guide is that it goes well beyond just the dynamics of parenting within this context, but it also discusses how to understand gender diversity in other aspects, including work and school.
Overall, this is a great read for new parents because it is an entry-level approach to understanding the diversity in gender.
10. The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family by Ron L. Deal, Gary Chapman
From single-parent homes to blended families, there are families of all shapes and dynamics that are just as loving and nurturing as your traditional two-parent different sex household.
This next pick, The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family, breaks down how to overcome the task of merging your family into a blended one. These steps will tackle all the different ways to overcome commonly experienced stereotypes.
In seven easy to read and understand steps, readers will be taken on a journey of how to naturally and seamlessly blend their families together.
Final thoughts on books dealing with minorities, gender identity, and LGBTQ members
In our society, every race is present. With so many new diverse authors coming on the scene, there are so many options as far as books that are reflecting this diversity as well.
While there is clearly a space in the literary world for books that deal with topics concerning gender identity, minorities, and LGBTQ members, the data is clear that there is plenty of room for growth. The good news is that the stats continuously point to the fact that this is an issue that is slowly being remedied as there are more writers of color and unique backgrounds who are continuing to share their experiences through writing.
If you are looking to expand your horizons in understanding and navigating the challenges of non-traditional families, then we hope you find any one of our ten book choices to be a good fit for you.