Heather Has Two Mommies

reviewed by Judith E. Beckett, R.N.

by Leslea Newman
Alyson Publications, 1989 (Ages 3-8)

First published in 1989 by Alyson Publications, this book was a controversial groundbreaker that’s been both applauded and banned ever since. It was a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 1990 and lambasted by Jesse Helms on the Senate floor soon after.

In the book, one of Heather’s Moms is a doctor, the other a carpenter. They meet and fall in love, move in together with their dog and cat and are very happy except for one thing. They want a baby. Heather is conceived by donor insemination so be prepared for words such as “womb,” “vagina,” and “sperm.”

When Heather is three years old and goes to daycare for the first time, she hears the other kids talking about their dads, realizes she doesn’t have one and begins to cry. The teacher has the children draw pictures of their families and we discover that the composition of the families is diverse. The children in the pictures drawn by Diana Souza are culturally diverse as well.

Because there are a lot of words in the text, a young child might not be able to sit through the whole book. Illustrations are in black and white but one GLBTQ kid says she enjoyed coloring them as her Mom read to her. The tenth anniversary edition contains an age appropriate intro to family diversity.

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