Father Self-Publishes Adorable Book About Gay Pirates For His Children
Jamie Irving couldn’t find a book he liked that would educate his child on LGBTQ+ relationships. So he published one himself.
What do you do when you want to educate your child on a certain topic, especially a social issue? A first port of call would be to search for media that’ll teach them in an entertaining way. Perhaps you’ll scroll through hundreds of children’s’ books on Amazon, or trawl through the copious children’s shows on Netflix until you find a suitable one. Or perhaps, if you are by today’s standards old fashioned, you might flick through the *gulp* TV guide and settle on a CBeebies show.
There are many methods to find children’s TV shows out there but not always the shows you need. While many social issues are tackled in a sensitive way in children’s entertainment, many issues are side-lined. One such issue is that of LGBTQ+ relationships and families. Portraits of such families and relationships are hard to come by, owing to the stigma around educating children on queer life. This often stems from fear of children’s indoctrination into LGBTQ+ ‘lifestyles’ through exposure to such material. Essentially, some people still believe you can catch queerness as you may catch coronavirus. But I can assure you, unless you’re attending an 18th century French ball, you need not wear a mask when chatting to a member of the alphabet mafia.
Bearing this stigma in mind, it’s not rocket science to guess why there are a limited number of story books aimed at children under the age of 6 that contain queer characters. Jamie Irving, a 36 year old digital marketing specialist and father of two, found this frustrating. So, after unsuccessful attempts at taking up bread-baking, he decided to create his own book for his children, affectionately known as the A-team.
Hence Petey the Pirate’s Biggest Adventure was born. We sat down with Jamie to find out his motivations for writing the book and what that process was like. He tells us that he wrote it during the first lockdown and attempted to get it published but publishing houses weren’t biting. Jamie tells us, “I considered shelving it, but then I thought, if I can do this for under £500 and educate my children as well as get their names on the inside cover of a book, then it’ll be worth it. I wanted my kids to know whatever pathway they choose in life, I’ll be happy with that.”
“I managed to get an illustrator to create the imagery and then I found out that you can submit a book to Amazon and they will deal with the production of the book.” Jamie tapped into Amazon’s Self Publishing service, which will print books to order and pay you for each (minus a small cut of course). “I completed the whole thing for £350! I’m hoping to make my money back and then any other profit will go to Great Ormond Street hospital.”
Jamie is an advocate of letting your children know that they will be accepted no matter who they love. But given that it’s not so easy to find books that communicate this in a child-friendly way, he had to take matters into his own hands. “We have a great selection of kid’s books that focus on diversity in a brilliant way but they’re mostly concerned with race. Books out there that are concerned with LGBTQ+ parents, for example, are not always as well done. They are often too situational and are made solely to show kids blatantly that these relationships exist.
While acknowledging that these books are important, Jamie wanted to create something that was less contrived and on-the-nose for his children. “My book is about a pirate who is out looking for love and then eventually falls in love with his best friend. It’s about the relationship seeming natural and it being woven into the plot.”
Jamie doesn’t necessarily want to stop at this book either. “If I make enough money back from this book then I might create a series of books that interweave educational topics into authentic stories for kids.”
So, watch this space – our self-published author and champion of subtle and authentic diversity education may be producing more work. If you’d like to read Jamie’s book then you can find it on Amazon.