Hanover leader calls for change after children’s book featuring same-sex parents sparks controversy

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chickahominy District Supervisor Danielle Floyd is calling for policy changes after a book about families with same-sex parents was read to toddlers at the Atlee Branch Library.

Toddler Storytime is a frequent event at the Atlee Branch Library where families with toddlers aged two to three can enjoy story time with books, music and other activities. Recently, library staff chose “The Family Book” by Todd Parr to read during a story time. The book describes what different families can look like, some are large or small, and some have two mothers or two fathers.

It was the mention of same-sex parents that concerned a family from Hanover who decided to remove themselves from the event because they believed the book normalized homosexuality.

The family then took their concerns to the library director, who found the book to be age appropriate. That’s when the family went to Chickahominy District Supervisor Danielle Floyd to express their desire for change.

At a recent regional library board meeting, Floyd read a message from the family, who could not attend, expressing concerns about the book’s message.

According to Floyd, the Atlee Branch Library has an ongoing problem with promoting sexually explicit content and controversial books, and new policies need to be put in place at the library. She recommended making book titles that will be read during the toddler’s storytime available to families in advance.

In response to the reading of “The Family Book” at the Atlee Branch Library, Floyd released the following statement:

“I support libraries, the services and facilities they provide and I use them personally. There is an ongoing problem at the Atlee Branch Library. This is the same library that celebrated ‘banned’ book week by promoting sexually explicit, anti-police and other controversial books. I will continue to work to protect children. The public library is not the place to push any political agenda. The library board should create a policy that requires read-aloud book titles to be posted before the toddler age so parents can choose whether they want their child to listen. To be clear, I am not asking for the removal of any book.”

Danielle Floyd, Chickahominy Supervisor

However, some visitors believe that policy changes are not necessary. Nia Gibson is a frequent toddler visitor and former teacher who has used The Family Book in her classes. She said the book is an opportunity to represent different types of families.

“I think while it can be helpful, it’s not something that needs to be done and it’s not the library’s fault,” Gibson said of the possible policy changes for the library.

8News reached out to Pamunkey Regional Library Director Tom Shepley, who issued the following statement in response to Floyd’s call for change:

“The library appreciates hearing feedback from the community. The library has a responsibility to provide resources and materials that cover a panorama of viewpoints so that everyone in the community has the opportunity to see themselves reflected in our materials and programming. We serve a diverse community and work hard to make the Pamunkey Regional Library a welcoming space for all.”

Tom Shepley, Pamunkey Regional Library Director

Shepley said book titles have been made available at the library upon request. At this point, library leaders are deciding whether changes are needed.

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