Everything Possible by Fred Small & Alison Brown
Published by Nosy Crow

THE stories we read to children in their first stages of learning cannot be underestimated in their importance. Forty years ago, folk singer/songwriter Fred Small’s friend came to him with a problem.

At a young age in school, her son was struggling to fit in with other boys and had already begun to feel the pressure to move toward outdated standards of masculinity, to be tough instead of gentle and kind. Small wrote a song to help this boy to understand there are no limits to what he could feel and be.

Over four decades, this song has resonated with the LGBT+ community for its decisive message that “You can be anybody you want to be, you can love whoever you will”.

Now, with the help of the illustrations of Alison Brown, his message of love has been transformed into a storybook.

Each page transforms the lyrics of the song into a comforting story where a child receives these messages from adults and friends in a house by the sea.

With the song telling a story and containing a recognisable rhyming scheme, reading this book feels almost an inevitable progression from what Small set out to do.

To have added extra words around it or to have only been loosely inspired by the original song would have perhaps lost the impact created by listening along as you read. This is made easy to do, with a QR code inside linking to a brand new recording in honour of the book. I found myself tearing up as I read and listened.

What can seem like a simple tale of support can become so much more when expressed through art to children who do not yet know the value of trusting their hearts over the pressure of others. To teach this message to the young, to affirm that love is not dependent on conformity but is instead about accepting people without conditions, allows children to grow up more freely into who they want, and need, to be.

It is with books and songs such as this one, with representations of diversity in people and paths of life as possible and also positive, that the insecurity children face out of a fear of being different from their peers can begin to be defeated.

With an increase in anti-LGBT legislation in the US this year, following the Don’t Say Gay bill in Florida, reminiscent of section 28, inclusive education beginning from the first years of teaching and reading seems to be more than vital.

In this landscape, the appearance of a storybook such as this, with its openness and warmth toward embracing one’s true self is a real breath of fresh air.

With this story out now, those who remember the original song, or it’s famed cover by LGBT a capella group The Flirtations, and those who are just hearing it, have the opportunity to share its message with the children in their lives.

It’s heartwarming to think that a song written to help one child feel more comfortable about himself 40 years ago has been published and shared for children worldwide.

With beautiful illustrations and a concise but impactful story within, this is perfect for the new parents and children in your lives.