Words: Alastair James; pictures: Puffin and Gareth Peter
An author says his experiences adopting inspired him to write a new children’s book about a child with same-sex parents.
Gareth Peter, 40, from Nottingham, and his partner adopted two children a few years ago and found a lack of picture books to read to their children before bed that reflected their own family.
He says books like My Daddies are perfect for introducing children to adoption and the different kinds of families.
Gareth with his children (Photo: Gareth Peter)
“A moving and magical celebration of love”
Speaking to Attitude, Gareth says: “My Daddies is a fun and colourful picture book about a little girl’s adventures with her two dads. We set off on a series of epic journeys alongside this wonderful family, as the stories they read together burst into life.
“I hope people will see it as a moving and magical celebration of love, imagination, and the power of storytelling.”
He describes reading books with children as “a parent's most magical bonding time", adding: “But there seemed to be a lack of diverse picture books, especially ones that showed families like ours.
"So, I decided to write one. Initially, it was just for us, but when I started to receive feedback from friends, I wondered if it could be enjoyed by more families.”
Always a keen writer, Gareth attended some writing courses and found a publisher. My Daddies was then published in April.
“I grew up disliking the fact I was gay”
Picking up on the subject of LGBTQ-inclusive education Gareth says it’s “hugely important” to have books like his available in schools.
“Children should always be able to see themselves within literature, the media, and within discussions about family. This is why the update to the school's RSE [relationship and sex education] policy is so important.
“I grew up in the 1990s with Section 28, always dreaming I would have a family, but I never thought this would be possible. I grew up disliking the fact I was gay. But roll on 20 years and now I am proud to say I am a father and that my dream came true.”
Thankfully, things are very different today from the days of Section 28, which banned the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools and which was only repealed in 2003.
As of September 2020, secondary schools in England are required to teach Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), including sexual orientation and gender identity. In Scotland, LGBTQ inclusive education is being embedded from this year, and in Wales from 2022.
Unfortunately, in Northern Ireland, there is no requirement to implement guidance on same-sex education.
My Daddies is published by Puffin (Photo: Puffin)
“I am proud of my family and of this book”
Gareth adds: “Our society is so diverse, and everyone has an obligation to promote and celebrate this. At the end of the day, if you see the world through the eyes of a child, then you see it as a tolerant, accepting, and wonderful place… and this starts at home with colourful picture books.”
He says he’s had a very positive response to the book.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and positive response so far. I feel honoured that people are falling in love with our book and that it is making an impact on other families. Reading the reviews and hearing how others are enjoying it, is so moving and I am thankful people are reaching out to me."
My Daddies is illustrated by Garry Parsons, who’s a same-sex parent himself, and known for illustrating the best-selling The Dinosaur that Pooped series. The book's publisher, Puffin. says it is its first picture book about two gay dads with both an LGBTQ author and illustrator.
Gareth continues: “When a child of a blended or LGBTQ family sees our book, I hope they will see… themselves. But when a child from another dynamic sees it, I hope they will accept that families come in all shapes and sizes.
"At the end of the day, the book is about the love of a family and I hope everyone can understand this.
“I am proud of my family and of this book and I’ll always be forever thankful to those that fought for our equal rights. Let’s hope this book continues to help.”
My Daddies is published by Puffin and is available to buy online.