Guest post written by Keren Moran Co-founder at mememepress.com
We spent the first 4 years of our daughter's bedtime cheerfully snuggled up reading books, swapping genders and pronouns, populating her picture books with little vignettes of happy gay families like ours. This worked fine until the day she realized Sally and Conrad, the kids in 'The Cat in the Hat' have a mom and a dad (not two moms like us) and was NOT impressed with our deception.
From that point on she took it upon herself to tirelessly police our reading in to the hetero normative narratives that matched the text (what she couldn't read she expertly deduced from the pictures) and most of the representations in the book-world around her.
Thankfully the physical world around her is a better reflection of her family context - our neighborhood in Sydney is beautifully eclectic. In the park near our house you're just as likely to see a gay family doing the family thang as you are seeing someone walking a dog. There is more visible and celebrated diversity than most places I've lived – hooray for that!
But the books… the books that would help her anchor her understanding and sense-making of the world mostly included just that Mom + Dad + kid(s) – triad and with mostly a boy protagonist at that.
When we looked around we noticed it wasn't just our family that wasn't in the stories – all the shapes and sizes that make the modern family – the blended families, the single parent families, those kids that were being raised by grandparents and the rainbow families like us – were all trying to squeeze in to that ever so narrow common denominator. A chat with a publisher friend confirmed the painfully obvious – books are hard to sell and the less risk the better.
Being passionate readers and firm believers in the power of books to convey values and validate a child's sense of self-worth - we decided to stop fibbing. We would create books that could reflect ANY family for the children that lived in it.
And so Mememe Press was born.
Having run a creative agency together for 14 years - Noa (my partner in life and in crime) and I knew we could make Mememe Press fly. We'd dreamt up major creative campaigns and built robust, complex systems for clients – it was time to turn our attentions to a venture of our own.
The technical part of designing and printing one-off quality books for each child was par for the course – but we also knew there are more than a few personalized books out there that snap up the low bearing fruit of a shoehorned personalized name - that's not what we were after.
What we had in mind was personalized children's literature - books that were told with grace and sparkle that could truly take pride of place on any bookshelf – with the added bonus of being so very personal. We approached Kate and Jol Temple, award winning Australian authors whose books have already been read by more than half a million kids to craft a tale that we knew would connect. We then roped in Christopher Cooper – a young-gun illustrator with a lavish illustration style and the organized mind of a detective. Together we worked to create a story that could be broken down to parts and seamlessly put together again - differently for each and every book.
The result - our first title - Ready or not here comes… your name! (for 1-6-year old's) is a heart-warming tale about a kid who looks up from their toys one Sunday morning to discover their family… gone! The story then leads the reader on a romp around the house to find one and all hidden in various places (my favorite is the family member found 'crouched on the couch like an old corn chip'). Both the protagonist and family are depicted as cute monsters in various shades of fur to provide an inclusive visual representation that shifts focus from ethnicity to expression.
So far, the book has been received with much excitement from ALL types of families all over the world. @twopoofsandapudding – a two dad family with their little son 'pudding' shared this delightful reading moment:
We absolutely love this book! Reading it with our son who is 2 is such a joy. Every time we read it and say his name he gets so excited and shouts his name too. Also when he sees that his two daddies are in the book he looks at us both with the biggest smile on his face. Reading it with his cousins is funny as they are shocked pudding has his very own book. They know he is special the way he came into our life through adoption but this book makes them think he is super special.
and… Kim Kardashian loved her copy with her 4 little ones as well as Kanye, Aunty Khloe and grandma (Lovey) so much she posted about it to her 140 million followers – there is just something so magical about finding your very own family in a book – and not just for the kids!
To buy your personalized copy of the book – head over to www.mememepress.com
And in honor of Pride last month - use ReadWithPride at checkout for 20% off
Recently, Mememe Press published the book with a number of different family structures as paperbacks on Amazon. Check them out below and see if they work for your family.
Two dads + Boy protagonist (James): James's family includes 2 Dads, a twin brother and a baby sister.
Two dads + Girl protagonist (Olivia): Olivia's family includes 2 Dads, an Aunt a big brother and a baby sister.
Two Moms + Girl protagonist (Emma): Emma's family includes 2 Moms, a little brother and a dog.
Two Moms + Boy protagonist (Lucas): Lucas's family includes 2 Moms, a big sister, a little sister, Grandma and Grandpa.