There were no books about Jewish children when writer Lesléa Newman was growing up.
"I was hungry for a book with characters like [me] to make me feel valid and normal, and to make me think there wasn't something wrong with my family," because it lacked Christmas trees and Easter egg hunts.
Newman remembered this feeling when her friends in the lesbian community began to have families -- they couldn't find any books about themselves either. In response, she wrote "Heather Has Two Mommies," the first children's book to depict lesbian families in a positive way.
Newman, who will speak at UCLA on Feb. 14, is the author of more than 30 books of poetry, novels, children's books and short stories, including "A Letter to Harvey Milk," which Carl Reiner recently read on National Public Radio as part of the series, "Jewish Stories from the Old World to the New." Much of Newman's adult work explores Jewish identity, lesbian identity and the "intersection and collision between the two."
While Newman has been advocating for lesbian and gay families for years, this week she got a powerful ally. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, which offers guidance to parents on child-rearing issues, announced its support for the right of gays and lesbians to adopt their partners' children.
Ahead of the curve again, "Felicia's Favorite Story," Newman's book for children about a girl adopted by a lesbian couple, will be released next fall.
Lesléa Newman will speak at 7:30, Feb. 14 at the Korn Convocation Hall at UCLA's Anderson School of Business. The event is free. For more information, call Rabbi Mychal Rosenbaum at UCLA Hillel at (310) 208-3081.
For more information on Lesléa Newman, visit: www.lesleanewman.com and www.lesleakids.com .