You know something’s wrong when your 10-year-old won’t let her 9-year-old brother read her latest copy of Stone Soup.
Touted as a magazine for children ages 8-13, Stone Soup features stories, poems, artwork, and book reviews by children. I bought my budding writer a subscription when she was 8, in hopes she might submit her own work.
Normally, both children enjoy the magazine, and, until this issue, I have had no qualms with it. But when my daughter yanked it out of her brother’s hands, I knew something was up.
That something was an 11-year-old girl’s review of My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari.
The book’s protagonist is a girl whose mother is planning a wedding with her future wife. The backward townspeople object, but in the end achieve enlightenment and embrace the lesbian couple who then marry and live, apparently, happily ever after.
The young writer of this review lets us know her own views on the issue: “Just like in the book when Eva says, ‘We won’t keep quiet about homophobia,’ I think that people shouldn’t be afraid of homosexuality, and if they are they should talk about it so they aren’t so uncomfortable with it. I think homosexuals should get the same rights as everyone else, the right to be in the military, the right to get married, and the right to have children.”
While I was appalled to find such overt propaganda in a children’s magazine, given today’s heated debate over homosexual marriage, I certainly wasn’t surprised.
Our children are exposed to homosexuality in some form nearly every day – no longer is it a forbidden topic. To wit: TV Guide reports that a future episode of Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie” features a homosexual drama. Seeing two men kiss may shock parents today, but after seeing it a few hundred times, our children may not so much as glance up from their smartphones for such things.
Although I was disappointed with Stone Soup (and planning a strongly worded letter to the editor), this book review gave me just what the reviewer hoped it would: the opportunity to talk with my little ones (but far sooner than I would have liked) about homosexuality. They know the Bible says it is wrong, but how then do we treat a family member or friend (both of which we have and love) who is homosexual? Do we shun or shame, or is there a better, more effective and loving way to approach them?
With the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, such questions are more apropos than ever.
As much as we’d like to, no longer can we act like homosexuality is an issue we can hide from our children, even within the supposed “safety” of a children’s magazine. As much as I disagree with Stone Soup for their political correctness on the issue of homosexuality, I agree with the reviewer that indeed we need to have more conversations with our children about it.
But the end result of these conversations may not be quite what she had in mind.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Amy Henry writes for WORLD Magazine. A married mother of six, Henry lives in Kansas and is the author of Humpty Dumpty Just Needed a Nap: What Children’s Stories Teach Us About Life, Love, and Mothering. She blogs at wholemama.com.)