Values: Kindness, Love, Respect, Compassion, Equality, Integrity, Pride... and so many more!
Queer Heroes is a collection of 53 inspirational queer heroes which was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. It is a bright, bold and interesting read for children and adults alike.
In the introduction to this book, Arabelle Sicardi writes that she grew up scouring books to try and find people 'like me' especially when she felt confused, isolated and was bullied. She explains that queer people were often seen as too different to feature in history books, but she is trying to change this with the message that difference is good and interesting. Arabelle also unites all people reading this book as an 'extended family' and writes that 'LGBTQ+ people have taken care of each other when no one else thought we mattered'. In the book, she has featured people from all periods of history, parts of the world and with wide-stretching talents in sport, music, the arts, academia etc. The final part of the introduction inspires people reading the book to be a hero in their own lives. What a thought-provoking introduction to a book!
The book features such a wide range of people from Frida Kahlo to Tove Jansson to Martina Navratilova to Oscar Wilde. There are so many little opportunities to use this book - assemblies, lessons across the curriculum, circle time and for ten-minutes before lunch! The illustrations by Sarah Tanat-Jones bring to life the personalities featured and the information is succinct in summarising each person's life and what they have brought to the world. It would be really interesting to look at the information in the book in the context of where and when these heroes lived. For example, on the page with Leonardo da Vinci, it explains that at the time being gay was punishable by death. This could open up some interesting conversations with children about whether people have been accepted for who they are/were in history and what this might have meant for their physical safety or mental health. Children are often fascinated to learn that some parts of the world have still not legalised homosexuality.
There are so many examples of kindness, integrity, love, compassion and pride in this book that I cannot go through each individually. Just looking at each person opens up huge discussion about how they acted and how others treated them.
I really like how there is a both a mixture of people who are no longer alive, and people whom the children may have heard of or recognise from the television. It would be great to discuss why some of these heroes didn't feel they could tell people they were LGBTQ+ and others felt that they had a voice to make things better for others.
Having photocopies of specific pages of this book (maybe one per week of the school year) might be a nice way of opening up discussion or purposefully planning some of these queer heroes into the curriculum. It is really important that children of all sexualities feel included and accepted in schools and homes; every teacher and parent knows this. It is also important for children to feel their families are 'like' others and accepted too. I personally feel that this does not need to be a big PSHE topic (or similar), nor should it wait until there is need for a discussion. It should be an ongoing part of an ethical, Values-based curriculum.
If you would like to get hold of a copy of this book, you can find it in many independent bookshops. I really believe this is a book for every home, library and school as it is so versatile and empowering.
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