Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday! Shop at Independent Bookstores for Gender Bending Material

As holiday gift shopping shifts into full swing, a wide variety of new ideas appear on everyone's wish lists. Fancy electronics. Gift cards. Gender neutral picture books.

Children's books that don't follow the hetero-normative, gender-stereotyped households can't often be found in big chain stores like Barnes & Noble. But independent shops like The Book Beat in Oak Park, IL will frequently provide a wider range of viewpoints and content. For example, Mary Hoffman's 2011 The Great Big Book of Families. The picture book features illustrations of the different ways families might be put together: working mom, working dad, two fathers, adoptive parents, different incomes, different foods, different religions, different ethnicities. In fact, the book starts by showing an example of what households often don't look like: a blonde smiling family with a picket fence.

For 29 years, The Book Beat has sold books that other companies won't, particularly children and teen books with an LGBT theme. The shop says in their store statement that they "hope to continue offering our community a creative bookstore that is a brighter artistic alternative to the cookie-cutter retailers."

At The Book Beat, you can find other refreshing titles like Cheryl Kilodavis' My Princess Boy, Alex Sanchez's Boyfriends with Girlfriends, and Leslea Newman's Donovan's Big Day (about a boy who gets ready to serve as ringbearer at his two moms' upcoming wedding).

Venture farther into Chicago to Unabrigdged Bookstore, which has the following categories on their website: Sale Books, Coffee Table Books, Gay Books, Children's Books. On their home page, they state that "it's safe to say that Unabridged is the only bookstore in the Chicago area where a shopper can buy the latest issue of a gay magazine, a copy of children's classic Goodnight Moon or newest title, and pick up the latest literary fiction & non-fiction sensation, all in one stop."

Julia Music, a queer Chicago mom, recently spoke with Pride Source about shopping for LGBT children's books. Regarding her son's favorite picture book, Liz Garton Scanlon's All the World, Music said that "it's important for children to see their world reflected in the literature they read."

Small Business Saturday seemed to be successful all over the country. Do yourself a favor and extend that tradition into Cyber Monday tomorrow - check out some local establishments' websites.

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