The Girl with Two Dads by Mel Elliott

Values: Love, Friendship, Respect.

This picturebook is simple and heart-warming. It tells the story of two friends - Pearl and Matilda - who love all the same things from jumping in muddy puddles to climbing trees. One day, Pearl sees Matilda being dropped off at school by her dad, but it isn't the same dad that dropped her off the day before! When she asks Matilda, she learns that Matilda has two dads instead of a dad and a mum. Pearl is very excited about this as her dad is really fun and assumes that there will be sweets for tea and games all night when she visits Matilda. Much to her dismay, Matilda's dads are very similar to her own parents and 'in fact, they are really boring'!

A lovely book which discusses same-sex relationships in a playful and non-threatening way. The storyline, title and plot are quite simplistic but this didn't deter me in any way. I feel like Pearl's excitement about visiting a new family and making a new friend in Matilda has integrity and would appeal to children from a very young age. Books which celebrate diversity are right at the heart of any Values bookshelf!

The most obvious Value that this book raises is love. Matilda herself explains to Pearl: "One mum and one dad isn't what every family has. I have two dads who love each other," in what comes across as an accessible and compassionate explanation. It can open up all sorts of conversations about what love is and how relationships are different.

I also like the fact that Pearl shrugs in response and replies, "Ok cool," as this echoes any conversation I have had with young children around LGBTQ+ relationships - adults worrying far more than children about how to handle these conversations. We really need to give children credit for their understanding and articulation of such discussions and that a lot of the time, children aren't phased!

Another Value I would pull out of this book is friendship. We can see that Pearl is so excited to meet Matilda, and the two play together at school and talk about their ambitions for the future as well as what their parents do. The difference in their families does not in any way infringe upon their friendship and does not stop them having fun together. The book can lead teachers/librarians/parents into discussions about friends do not have to be the same, and they can learn so much from each other that it is great to be different!

I think this book also highlights the Value of respect. We aim to teach children to respect everyone and their successes, interests, passions, and lifestyles. This book shows children showing a genuine interest in each other and respecting when there are differences. This can be really important to discuss with any range of 'differences' children may come across - but is also vital that we explicitly teach respect for others when talking about LGBTQ+ people since sadly we are still seeing discrimination.

I love having a range of books on my Values bookshelf and know that I need to have more books that talk about different families and lifestyle choices as well as LGBTQ+ awareness. I hope more classrooms, libraries and bookshelves at home can continue to build their diverse books too. If you would like to add this book to your collection (or similar books) you can find yours at Blackwell's or Daunt Books. Both great bookshops and ones I fully support! You can follow the author on Twitter too: @Mellyelliott and see her other Pearl Power books!

I have also written about books with similar Values themes and you can find them by clicking on these links: