Polyamory-Related Books

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Childrens Books with Poly Themes

One challenge that faces poly families is the lack of examples of poly relationships in literature and meda. Here are some suggestions for books that have poly-related themes appropriate for young children.


Else-Marie and Her Seven Little Daddies

Gabrielle Charbonnet and Pija Lindenbaum
Henry Holt & Company

Thanks to Thomas Leavitt (thomas @ thomasleavitt.org) for this contributed review!

Summary: A poly children's book?!? When I saw it on the shelf, I had to buy it!

This is a translation from the Swedish original, which was an added bonus, as my wife and children are Swedish! The illustrations are wonderfully charming, and reveal all sorts of fascinating little details about Swedish life... such as the fact that doors in Sweden don't have knobs - they have handles! And bathroom doors have little hearts hung on them that are turned over when in use. Some crude attempts have been made to Americanize Swedish text in the illustrations, but they're minimally intrusive.

Else-Marie and Her Seven Little Daddies recounts the day the seven little daddies get drafted to pick Else-Marie up from play-group, thus inadvertently "outing" her. As she says, "...all my friends at playgroup have just one daddy. One big one." Oh my.

By making the daddies very little (half Else-Marie's size, or smaller) and focusing her concerns on the implications of that (visions of uncontrolled small dogs chasing them up a tree, or her playmates treating the daddies like >dolls, run through Else-Marie's head as the day passes), the author cleverly puts the book into the realm of fantasy and creates a convenient proxy for the normal concerns and anxieties associated with having to "come out" as a child with an alternative family structure of any sort.

This is a wonderful book on its own merits, suitable for reading to any child, but of course, to poly parents (and generally to GLBT parents), who face the almost impossible task of locating literature that reflects their family structures (much less in a positive fashion without being overly self-conscious about it), this book is a godsend. The matter of fact way in which the daddies go about their daily activities emphasizes how little difference the presence of seven daddies actually makes in Else-Marie's day to day life, while the obvious differences are dealt with in a humourous and lighthearted fashion. Pija Lindenbaum re-inforces this message of normality with subtle touches, such as including a scene in which Else-Marie recounts how her daddies read her to sleep (one line per daddy, which makes stories hard to follow and usually leads to her falling asleep quite rapidly), and having a stick-figure self-portrait of Else-Marie with her seven little daddies hang on the wall above her bed. Else-Marie's daddies are normal middle class sales people, almost excessively so: they work in an office, wear glasses to read, relax with the paper after a hard days work, and the family vacations in Greece, where the daddies dress like stereotypical tourists: short pants, palm-print button-down short-sleeve shirts and dark glasses. Else-Marie's mom is a plain-looking middle-aged woman who has perhaps a bit of extra padding around the hips and bottom, and wears bathrobes and bikinis with equal aplomb (thus the author also scores a point for positive body image messaging as well). Nothing even slightly out of the range of normal behavior or activities occurs--aside from the daddies bouncing up and down on the bed and singing the "itsy bitsy spider" song, which understandbly leaves Else-Marie suitably mortified and convinced that her daddies are the weirdest men on earth (a sentiment all children are likely to share at one point or another).

Pija Lindenbaum (who wrote the text and illustrated the book) has created a wonderful and charming children's book that just happens to be the most non-threatening, incontrovertiably unobjectionable family and poly-friendly children's book imaginable. A must have for any "alternatively structured" family.

The book was published in 1991 by Henry Holt and Company, and though it appears to be out of print, used copies are readily available at the time of this writing on Amazon.com and other book sites.

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Strange Stories for Strange Kids (Little Lit, Book 2)

Art Spiegelman

Thanks to Menolly for this contributed review!

This collection contains the story The Little House that Ran Away From Home, which definitely has a poly theme...

The story is about a little house who is very unhappy because all the people who live in it make unpleasant noises all the time. So the house runs away one night.

Meanwhile, we have Huff, who collects pleasant sounds. Huff hears the house crying, and they become friends. They're headed for what appears to be a pleasant spot to settle down, and there they find Puff, who collect puffs of smoke seen rising in the distance. The house suggests they get married. So they do. It's clearly all three who are married, and in the end, there are little houses running around with little Huffs and Puffs, and they all live happily ever after.

The story is a comic/graphic novel style story, the book as a whole is an anthology of stories including works by Maurice Sendak, Art Spiegelman, and more.

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Six-Dinner Sid

Inga Moore
Simon & Schuster

Six-Dinner Sid is a happy cat that has six families in his life, none of who know about each other. He gets six dinners, he has six places to sleep, he's a happy cat, until...

The drawings are beautiful, and the book appeals to children and adults well. And, from a poly person's perspective, the story, and the unusual and happy ending, all have a special resonance.

There's also a paperback edition.

Mary rates this book a 10 (Best Book Available on the Subject) and says:
As a collector of children's literature, and as a person who hates preachy books or obvious lessons, I find Six-Dinner Sid to be delightful and fun, with a positive poly message that's neither shoved down the reader's throat nor obscured.

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