Leon Wenham is a single, Black gay adoptive father from London who couldn’t find any children’s books that represented a family like his – so, he wrote one himself. His upcoming, self-published book is called, In Our Home, There’s You, Me and Lots and Lots of Love, and Leon explained that he wrote it because he never saw his family structure represented in the books he was reading to his five-year-old son who he adopted as a single parent a year ago. Explaining the title of his book, Leon said that it comes from: “something I say to my beautiful son quite a lot: ‘In our home, there’s you, me and lots and lots of love.’”
Leon explained that “The book speaks about our adoption journey and it explains and encourages some of the big feelings and emotions many adopted children experience.”
The dad also added that “The other main message of this book is to normalise diversity from a young age. I have purposely used as many different ethnic characters as possible in the book, in order to show children that everyone is different and that’s ok. This book is for ALL children and ALL families. Finding inclusive books for children can be difficult but my mission is to ensure every child understands how normal being different is.”
In fact, the reason that Leon struggled so much to find books that his son could see himself and his father in is because, according to research from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education only 4% of new British children’s books feature main characters who are people of colour and only 7% of feature a person of colour in any capacity. Meanwhile, books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters and families often dominate the list of books being banned internationally.
Speaking to MailOnline, Leon stated, “One of the reasons I chose to write the book is… I didn’t find any books that represented our nuclear family. I’m Black Caribbean and all the books were very much all conventional and featured Caucasian people and I think when you’ve got a child that’s adopted and doesn’t have a conventional family, if you keep seeing that in books it’s just not really helpful for them. It just highlights that they’re different, which for a four or five-year-old that can be quite difficult.”
Leon also explained that even though his son’s school is very diverse and he has friends from many different backgrounds and families, the stories children are read often fail to teach children about those diverse families.
The father turned author said: “This is an example of why I’m doing this book, it’s to normalise diversity from a young age. Normalising diversity from a young age is number one. Number two is explaining adoption to children in a way that is encouraging and encourages them to share their emotions and recognises some of the big emotions that children and adults go through during the process.”
He also added, “One of the key things is to shine a light on Black fathers because I think that Black dads have had quite a bad reputation over decades – even from within the Black community. Being a single Black gay adoptive father I think it’s something quite positive. Long term would be for more Black families or single Black people, the Black LGBT community to really consider adoption as an option into parenthood.”
In Our Home, There’s You, Me and Lots and Lots of Love is written by Leon Wenham with illustration by Rosie Hague and it will be published by Bear With Us Productions, however, there is not yet a release date.