We are fans of Todd Parr’s children’s books, such as The Family Book, which I have written about before (Banning Books that Promote Tolerance?). His It’s Okay to be Different is similar to his other books with vibrant, simple illustrations and an inclusive message. My youngest daughter, who is 21 months old, loves it. She carries it around the house and screams, “Mine!,” whenever anyone else tries to read it. This selfish stage is not okay, but it’s cute to see her so excited about one of her books.
This book is a good choice for little kids, despite a few faults. In particular, the book mixes serious, universally-true messages, like, “It’s okay to be a different color” and “It’s okay to be adopted,” with less important ones, like, “it’s okay to eat macaroni in the bathroom,” which most certainly is NOT true in my house. It’s just not okay to mix food with what goes on in the bathroom.
Overall, though, the book conveys a meaningful message for all of its readers: everyone is different, and it’s okay to be who you are.
What’s not okay is the bigotry underlying this one-star Amazon review of Parr’s book, calling it “Gay Propaganda” (click on it to see a clearer image):
I thought the reviewer could be a troll, but their other reviews suggest not.
The book is about accepting differences in general with only one page devoted to non-traditional families: “It’s okay to have different moms/It’s okay to have different dads.” That could refer to families with same-sex parents, step-parents, or parents of backgrounds that might make them seem “different,” such as in interracial families like mine.
I hope that the reviewer’s children embrace the inclusive message of the book rather than their parent’s bigoted opinions. Unfortunately, though, the power of books to teach important lessons about tolerance and acceptance is likely limited in households that not only fail to reinforce those messages but instead actively strive to undermine them.