In 1989, a kids’ book entitled Heather Has Two Mommies provoked a national controversy in the US about children’s literature, gender messaging, and public libraries. As the saying goes, that was then, and this is now – and a brave new now, at that. Search Amazon for “LGBT Kids Books,” and you’ll find a host of titles, including some in the “Baby to 2” category. Children’s books with a gender message are here to stay. And that means Christian parents need to be prepared. How would you lead a conversation with your kindergartner about a classmate with two mommies?
Until now, we didn’t have many children’s books to help us with that conversation. There are a few good books that try to prepare us as parents, like David Martin’s Rewriting Gender? You, Your Family, Transgenderism, and the Gospel or Gender: A Conversation Guide for Parents and Pastors by Brian Seagraves and Hunter Leavine. Jani Ortlund’s A Child’s First Book About Marriage: God’s Way is Always Best addresses the topic, but is probably too long for children under the age of 9 or 10. But with secular messaging aimed at ever-younger audiences, how should Christian parents prepare? Enter Marty Machowski’s God Made Boys and Girls.
Aimed at three-to-five-year-olds, this book’s colorful illustrations and basic storyline will help parents lay biblical foundations for conversations about gender. The story starts with a girl, Maya, playing football with the boys at recess. Does that mean Maya is going to become a boy? “No, girls can’t turn into boys,” says Mr. Ramirez, the kids’ teacher. The rest of the book is a conversation between Mr. Ramirez and his students about what it means to say, “God made boys and girls.” That format allows the book to cover key truths in simple, memorable fashion. Children will learn that gender is God’s good gift to us through creation and that each of us has a “secret code” chosen by God that determines whether we are boys or girls. “Boy is in your blood,” Mr. Ramirez says, “and if you are a girl, girl is in your blood.” By the end of the conversation, the story has covered not only secret codes (and what kid doesn’t like secret codes?) but also Genesis 1-2, the diversity of gifts and talents that boys and girls can have (girls like football and boys can be artists), the love of God displayed in the gospel, and the need for us to respond to others who are confused about gender in a way that reveals that same gospel love. That’s a lot to accomplish in under 30 pages! God Made Boys and Girls ends with a full-page spread for parents titled, “Truths about Gender to Share with Children,” with paragraph summaries of key points to help parents think biblically about gender issues.
For Christian parents who live in the shadow of the contemporary gender revolution, God Made Boys and Girls is a gift. Take it and read it yourself, to give you ideas about how to make biblical truth bite-sized and age-appropriate. Read it aloud with your kids to proactively prepare them for the kinds of questions they will face when kids in the neighborhood have two mommies, or when a classmate who last year was a “he” is now a “they.” Use the “Truths about Gender” section to help you think about key values you should instill in your children to prepare for these kinds of questions. And, in whatever conversations this brave new now leads you to have with your kids, remember the gospel that shines light into darkness and brings clarity to confusion. On that subject, I’ll let Marty have the last word, from the last paragraph of God Made Boys and Girls: “So let’s be sure to have compassion on people who are confused about gender and extend Christian love to them as we share the good news of the kingdom.”