When I was a young teacher it was forbidden to discuss anything other than heterosexual relationships with the 11-18 year old youngsters I taught. Given that some of those youngsters were struggling to fit into a world that didn’t understand them, I thought this was entirely misguided. Consequently, I couldn’t be happier than to share my review today of ABC Pride, a children’s LGBTQIA+ book by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Louie Stowell, with illustrations by Amy Phelps. My thanks to Abi Walton at DK Books for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.
ABC Pride is published by DK today, 2nd June 2022, and is available for purchase through these links.
A is for Acceptance! B is for Belonging! C is for Celebrate!
ABC Pride introduces little readers to the alphabet through the colourful world of Pride. Children can discover letters and words while also learning more about the LGBTQIA+ community and how to be inclusive.
Every letter of the alphabet is paired with fun, bold illustrations to support language learning, and a handy list of discussion points at the end gives adults the tools to spark further conversations and discussion.
ABC Pride offers a simple yet powerful way to explain gender, identity, ability to children, while supporting diverse family units. Ideal for children to explore together with a caregiver, or in the classroom.
My Review of ABC Pride
Before reviewing ABC Pride properly, I have to comment on the quality of DK books. They are always so well made with strong, sustainably resourced robust covers and good quality paper that gives a feeling of luxury. ABC Pride is no exception. These are books to cherish.
I am certain that I have never encountered a more inclusive children’s book than ABC Pride and much of that inclusion comes from the fabulous illustrations by Amy Phelps. Between the covers of ABC Pride are people of all ages and ethnicity, genders or none at all, abilities and sizes. I think it’s the first time, for example I’ve seen an illustration of someone wearing a hearing aid in a general book rather than one aimed specifically at those with hearing impairment. The illustrations are at the very heart of this book and contribute to the largest part of its success.
Structured alphabetically, ABC Pride celebrates all aspects of inclusion in a way that promotes literacy, particularly through reference to pronouns, for example and through the variety of vocabulary. Indeed, I think ABC Pride can be used as a picture book with young children, but that words like ‘honesty’ and ‘harmony’ might need explaining so that children are learning a new vocabulary too. The balance of text to image is perfect in not overwhelming reluctant older readers or more confident emergent readers.
What ABC Pride does so well is that it ensures that there is a normality and inclusion for all, so that any child (or indeed those older) can understand they have as much value as any other person. This is such an important and profound message. With the addition of discussion points at the end of the book that enable parents, teachers and carers to provide opportunities for children to express their views and questions ABC Pride has a value beyond simply reading it.
I think ABC Pride might be the most important book of its kind in years. I really recommend it.
About Dr Elly Barnes
Dr Elly Barnes MBE FCCT is an experienced educationalist, founder and CEO of Educate & Celebrate, a charity that empowers and supports Leadership Teams, Boards, Governors, schools, young people and businesses to build a future of inclusion and social justice.
She was voted Number 1 in the Independent on Sunday’s Pink List in 2011, and was a judge in 2012. Dr Barnes was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2016 for her contribution to education, equality and diversity.
About Louie Stowell
Louie Stowell started her career writing carefully-researched books about space, Ancient Egypt, politics and science but eventually lapsed into just making stuff up. She likes writing about dragons, wizards, vampires, fairies, monsters and parallel worlds.
She lives in London with her wife Karen, her dog Buffy and a creepy puppet that is probably cursed.
About Amy Phelps
Amy Phelps is a freelance artist from the California Central Coast who studied illustration at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Amy loves for picture books and other art for children, especially with elements of fantasy and fairytale worlds, as well as stories cantered around LGBT+ themes and positive messages about mental health. She primarily works digitally, but also loves watercolour, cut paper collage and other studio art mediums.