Leon Wenham from London decided to write a children’s book when he noticed the lack of representation for his family in children’s literature. Wenham, a single, Black, gay dad who adopted his five year-old son last year, wanted to make his son feel seen, but to also encourage diversity.
The title of the book In Our Home, There’s You, Me, and Lots and Lots of Love – is a phrase that Wenham says to his son often. The book details the adoption journey Wenham and his son went through to find one another, and all the emotions that came with it.
“The other main message of this book is to normalise diversity from a young age. I have purposely used as many different ethnic characters as possible in the book, in order to show children that everyone is different and that’s ok. This book is for ALL children and ALL families.” Wenham says, “Finding inclusive books for children can be difficult but my mission is to ensure every child understands how normal being different is.”
Only four percent of new British children’s books feature main characters who are people of colour, according to research from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, while only seven percent of children’s books feature a person of colour in at all. Children’s books featuring LGBT+ families, meanwhile, are often on banned book lists.
Wenham spoke to MailOnline about the lack of diversity in children’s books, and why representation is so important for a child to see. Being Black Carribean, Wenham didn’t want his son to only see the stereotypical nuclear Caucasian family in books, saying: “It just highlights that they’re different, which for a four or five year-old that can be quite difficult.”
When asked why he is writing this book, Wenham replied: “Normalising diversity from a young age is number one. Number two is explaining adoption to children in a way that is encouraging and encourages them to share their emotions and recognises some of the big emotions that children and adults go through during the process.”
Wenham also wants to shine a light on the bad reputation black fathers have faced over the past decades, even within the black community.
“Being a single Black gay adoptive dad, I think it’s something quite positive. Long term would be for more Black families or single Black people, the Black LGBT community to really consider adoption as an option into parenthood.”
Look for In Our Home, There’s You, Me, and Lots and Lots of Love by Leon Wenham, coming to a book shelf near you. And keep up to date by following them on Instagram.
© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBT+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBT+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBT+ media.