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“You have to start with something”: Picture books to promote understandings of queer cultures, gender, and family diversity

Kathryn Morgan and Janette Kelly-Ware

Early childhood education is a critical cultural and social space where children learn to live with and alongside others. Yet the education system in Aotearoa New Zealand is rarely responsive to queer cultures, often rendering them invisible. We claim that risk aversion and discourses of innocence within a heteronormative climate often prevent teachers' engagement with children and families over queer cultures. This article sheds light on picture books that can encourage social inclusion of children and families with diverse gender and sexualities. Six relatively “low-risk” picture books celebrating cultural and gender diversity are discussed. More equitable outcomes for children and their families can be realised through deeper engagement with cultural diversity in its broadest sense as envisaged in Te Whāriki.

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