Rose and Rosie created an inclusive book about non-traditional family types today

With their first baby on the way, Rose and Rosie wanted to create an inclusive book that reflected the diversity of non-traditional family types today. ‘Sea The Love: A Book About Families’ explores this theme through a classroom of young sea animals. The story follows Dash the Dolphin as he spends the day talking to fellow students, building respect for everyone’s differences, and realising that what truly defines a family is not its particular members, but the love they share.

Global freelance marketplace Fiverr have partnered with YouTubers Rose and Rosie, and talented LGBTQ+ freelancers sourced from the Fiverr community, to co-create a children’s book about diversity, acceptance, and representation of different family structures. To accompany this, Fiverr worked with freelancers in the LGBTQ+ community to create a dedicated landing page in honor of the book launch. Please do follow on to download the book.

https://www.fiverr.com/content/pride-month-sea-the-love

Jefferey Spivey worked with Rose and Rosie to write the book and currently, his husband and he are enrolled in fostering/adoption classes, at the start of their parenting journey. He wanted to ensure that these blended families were represented in the book, and Callisto the crab (who was adopted by a family of angelfish) gave him a chance to do that.  “The factors that lead children to adoption and/or foster care can be devastating, but I wanted to celebrate the moment when these kids find loving permanent homes. I imagine that one day we’ll be able to read “Sea the Love” to our children and use Callisto’s story to help them process their own experience.”

“I love that “Sea the Love” opens up a conversation about all sorts of family types because that diversity is still underrepresented in children’s books.  As a Black LGBTQ+ person, I know the importance of seeing yourself reflected in the literature you read, and it’s my hope that kids in nontraditional families feel empowered and seen because of this book.”

“Using sea animals stemmed from the desire to be as inclusive as possible. If we used human or human-like characters, there was a strong possibility that we’d leave someone out. Sea animals gave us a fun, creative, and visually stimulating way to talk about diversity and still represent several different types of nontraditional families. Using sea animals also gave us an opportunity to work in some small marine biology facts, like the age of the teacher Mrs. Olive, who’s a 200-year-old green sea turtle.”

How would you describe yourselves and how do you identify?

I’m a full-time freelance writer and editor. I identify as a gay man.

How did you come up with the idea of this book?

I developed “Sea the Love” in partnership with the incredibly talented YouTubers Rose and Rosie. They were both really passionate about creating a representative children’s book that they could read to their child, and the underwater theme, as well as several of the characters, was inspired by their nursery. I built on their ideas by connecting the loose threads and sending Dash (our lead character) on an inspiring, heartfelt journey that highlighted the beauty of nontraditional family types.
I had a personal stake in telling this story because my husband and I are at the start of our parenting journey via fostering/adoption. I wanted to ensure that these blended families were represented in the book, and Callisto the crab (who was adopted by a family of angelfish) gave me a chance to do that. The factors that lead children to adoption and/or foster care can be devastating, but I wanted to celebrate the moment when these kids find loving permanent homes. I imagine that one day we’ll be able to read “Sea the Love” to our children and use Callisto’s story to help them process their own experiences.

Do you think there is not enough representation of non-traditional families nowadays?

There definitely isn’t enough representation yet. In children’s books specifically, we’re starting to see more narratives about families with two daddies or two mommies, but it’s rare to see a single story that covers several different family types. It’s so important to teach children that families come in all different shapes and sizes; they shouldn’t only see families that resemble their own.
One of the main messages of the book is that love is universal, and everybody deserves to be loved. By using a diverse range of sea animals, we were able to communicate this both in the narrative and in Judy Kaufmann’s beautiful illustrations. Each family may look different, but the bonds they share are all the same.

What are the areas that this book explores and who does it address?

The story follows Dash the Dolphin as he spends the day talking to fellow students, building respect for everyone’s differences, and realizing that what truly defines a family is not its particular members, but the love they share. Through all of Dash’s conversations, he explores same-sex families, transgender and gender nonconforming identities, mixed race families, disabilities, families with single parents, and foster/adoptive families.

I love that “Sea the Love” opens up a conversation about all sorts of family types because there’s still a huge opportunity to show this breadth of diversity in children’s books. And as a Black LGBTQ+ person, I know the importance of seeing yourself reflected in the literature you read. It’s my hope that kids in nontraditional families feel empowered and seen because of this book.

Why are the main characters sea animals and not humans or humanlike characters? Is there a reason behind this?

Using sea animals stemmed from the desire to be as inclusive as possible. If we used human or human-like characters, there was a strong possibility that we’d leave someone out. Sea animals gave us a fun, creative, and visually stimulating way to talk about diversity and still represent several different types of nontraditional families. Using sea animals also gave us an opportunity to work in some small marine biology facts, like the age of the teacher Mrs. Olive, who’s a 200-year-old green sea turtle.

What are the obstacles that a gay couple faces when it comes to creating their own family in the UK?

I can’t speak to the UK, but here in the U.S., I think there’s a fear of not being accepted when starting a family. I’m fortunate to live in a state like Iowa where several different agencies are open and welcoming to all couples. But I know there are situations where a privately owned agency may refuse to place children with gay couples, and that’s disheartening. Deciding to start a family may involve navigating others’ prejudices.

How has been your journey with regards to raising your own family?

Currently, my husband and I are enrolled in fostering/adoption classes, at the very beginning of our parenting journey. So far, it has been illuminating and encouraging, but we’re still a ways off from our first placement.

How has the process of writing this book been?

I loved the collaborative spirit amongst everyone involved in the creation of this book. It was empowering to see so many people rally around this important story and share the same passion for representation.

What are your future plans?

Personally, I’m continuing fostering and adoption classes with my husband, which wrap up later this summer. Professionally, I’m fully focused on growing my freelancing business, and I’m looking forward to the publication of one of my personal essays in the Berlin-based magazine DADDY later this month.

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