A STORY FOR EVERY FAMILY: HOW THESE MUMS ARE CHANGING THE WAY KIDS READ BOOKS
BY KEREN MORAN
Noa and I had been together for 16 years before our daughter Neko was born and suddenly we went from being a ‘a gay couple’ to being a ‘rainbow’ family.
Apart from the standard, absolutely life-altering experience of becoming parents – the sleepless nights, the elaborate routines that felt like essential survival tactics and the beautiful, heart bursting ridiculousness of it all – we were also very aware of having brought a new little person in to a world that hadn’t entirely made up its mind whether it was actually OK for us as a family to even be.
Part of our new job we knew, would be framing her world in terms that made her feel loved and safe and ultimately just as worthy as the next person.
Don’t get me wrong – we’re very lucky. Neko is very lucky. We live in Sydney and she is growing up in a time and a place where her family make-up is just one thread in a rich tapestry of diverse families around us. We are certainly not alone and you don’t need to be gay to have a ‘different’ family – ‘different’ I mean only in its departure from some elusive normative structure.
Neko’s day-care for example was a heady mix of gay, single, divorced, blended extended and yes ‘normal’ families all meshed together in a happy hectic mishmash of culture and community. A perfect backdrop for the kids to conduct guided explorations of what family means, what their place in the family means and how their family is the same and also different to other families. The kids - our kid included - were obsessed with this.
At home we talked and sang and read and read and read, flipping through picture books about everything from unicorns to mushrooms to sparrows in rice bags in India. What we didn’t read about, or couldn’t seem to find enough books about however, were families like ours.
Well, that’s not entirely true. At our local library and online we found some books that were pioneered in the USA in the eighties and then early naughties. But mostly these were books that didn’t resonate or focused on the ‘issue’ rather than a normalised rollicking good kid’s story where the family just totally happened to be ‘different’. We changed names and gender swapped characters in books to make up the difference but really we thought – not cool.
Kids make sense of their world through the books they are read and the books they read. At the risk of sounding melodramatic – we felt we owed it to our kid to change what we could (whilst complaining about what we couldn’t - so goes the saying? or some such anyway).
But – and this is a big BUT – we didn’t want it to be just about our family – ALL families are different – not one of them is the ‘same’ and we wanted to create a book that would let ANY kid be the star – customised so that THEY are the centre of their story with their very own family wrapped lovingly around them.
We also realised that while there are customised books out there, they tend to be a bit gimmicky. We wanted to make one that promotes literacy and a love of reading through storytelling and beautiful illustrations so we worked with two of Australia’s best known kids authors (Kate & Jol Temple) whose books have already been read by over half a million kids to make sure the story itself would connect with kids.
And so mememe press was born. To make a book for a special little someone in your life you go to our website and tell us who is in your gang. Most books are about other people and other people’s families. Not this book. Whether your family has two mums, a mum and a dad or maybe a grandma, four brothers and a cat, there should be a book just about them.
Now there is.
Head to www.mememe.press and order by December 13 to receive your customised book in time for Christmas and use the code: MememeNSM for 20% off!