Have you ever searched for children's coloring books that feature families with gay parents? If you have, your efforts were probably unsuccessful. That's because, until now, there weren't any coloring books with LGBT families. At all. Well, except for one on Amazon. Literally, one single title to represent us all.
Gay dad Mark Loewen wanted to change this. "I couldn't believe that almost 200,000 children raised by same-sex couples in the US couldn't see themselves in coloring books. And that's just one country!"
Loewen already included gay dads in his first picture book, 'What Does a Princess Really Look Like?' (2018), because he saw the need for LGBT characters in stories that didn't revolve around a specific LGBT-issue. "There are some really good books out there that explain our families. I wanted to write one where the family is just who they are, and where they don't need to be explained," Loewen states about his picture book debut.
For his next project, he changed course. "In the case of coloring books, there was nothing at all representing us. I mean, many coloring books don't actually show families anyway. And when a child already sees themselves represented everywhere else, as children with straight parents do, then it's not an issue for them. But our kids are often the only child with gay dads or lesbian moms in their classroom, at their camp, or in their neighborhood. So, as parents we need to be more intentional to expose our kids to families like theirs," Loewen explains.
Loewen discussed the idea of creating a coloring book with an illustrator (who opted to stay anonymous for personal reasons). They worked on illustrations of normal day-to-day situations in LGBT households. Loewen then spoke to his publisher, BQB Publishing, who offered to release the coloring book as a series, aptly titled, 'Celebrating LGBT Families.'
The first volume of the series, 'The True Colors of Family,' releases March 23, 2020. One month before release, it has already charted at #58 in Amazon's coloring book category.
"We decided on the title 'The True Colors of Family' because the phrase 'true colors'' has a deep and special meaning in the LGBT community. We have a beautifully colorful flag. And, we are a diverse group. The book includes kids with two moms, two dads, single parents, and even childless families," Loewen states. "What was also important to us was to show families in day-to-day situations. They are just all having fun together. And, their love binds them as families. That mattered to us - that people could see LGBT families as just regular families, but then we also have a special pride in who we are and what we have to offer to the world."
Giving visibility to families with two dads is Loewen's goal, and also why he shares many of his family's experiences on Instagram and Facebook. Free coloring pages from the coloring book can be downloaded on Loewen's website.