Written by: Rob Sanders
Illustrated by: Jamey Christoph
For ages: 5 years and up
Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Activism, Community, Historical Events, Acceptance, Historical Figures.
Summary: This book was written in a fascinating way. The narrator is the Stonewall Inn itself! Sanders expertly weaves together the history of the building starting with its construction in the 1840’s up to present day, while tangentially discussing the LGBTQ rights movement. The narrator tells the reader how the Stonewall has always been a place of acceptance, expression, and home to outcasts. People who were told they didn’t fit in were welcomed and celebrated at Stonewall, it was a community space where LGBTQ people could congregate and have a good time. Stonewall officially became the Stonewall Inn in 1967, and had become a destination for the queer community. Having a safe space was particularly important because there was much homophobic legislation and sentiment in most of the country, even in New York City. During some nights at Stonewall Inn, police would raid it and arrest some of the people inside. The ones who weren’t arrested would quietly slip away into the night, but not for long. On June 28th, 1969 the police raided Stonewall Inn and something different happened this time. Instead of running away, the people who weren’t arrested stayed standing in the streets and began to join together in anger and defiance. For too long they had been pushed around and made to fear for their lives. The Stonewall Uprising had begun! The police barricaded themselves into the Stonewall Inn while angry crowds started protesting outside. On and off for 5 days, these protests continued against homophobic treatment and police brutality. One the one year anniversary, a parade was held! This has since morphed into the annual Pride parade.
Things have changed for the better in the last 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, but we still have a long way to go. This is especially true for the treatment and safety of our trans sisters of color, who are subjected to astonishingly high rates of violence and murder. THIS IS NOT OK. Acceptance and celebration of trans identities also reduces rates of suicide by up to 80% in trans youth. These are statistics we absolutely cannot ignore and should be doing everything in our power to make positive changes.
In the back of the book is a slew of photographs and more information about the Stonewall Inn. While no specific names of activists are mentioned in the main story (like Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera) they are in several of the photographs. There is even a short interview with Martin Boyce, LGBTQ+ activist and who was an Uprising participant! The last page has a glossary and suggestions for further reading.
- Have you heard of the term LGBTQ or any of the corresponding terms? Maybe you have a friend or family member that is a member of the queer community.
- When is a time you stood up for what was right?
- How can you be a good friend to someone that other people might call an ‘outcast’?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Acceptance and celebration of the LGBTQ (and every other marginalized group) is something that should be ongoing in both the classroom and everyday life.
- For older kids, learning the history of unique architecture in the surrounding community could be a great way to tie in the book, if not going for an activism-based lesson.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Throughout junior high and high school, Rob Sanders had wonderful English teachers who taught him to diagram sentences, speak in public, read the classics, show what he learned in creative ways, and who taught him to write. He wrote letters, poems, stories, plays, radio scripts, and more. Even now those teachers would be considered among the best. He is still reading and writing today. As a matter of fact, every school day he teaches kids about words and books, and stories and writing. Helping his students become strong writers is his favorite thing to do. Now he also writes books. Explore his website and learn all about them!
Jamey Christoph is the illustrator for this book. Jamey’s illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and in several award winning children’s books. An old soul at heart, his work draws inspiration from vintage advertising and travel posters and a lifelong curiosity of the past, particularly in the character of old buildings, cars, fashion, and music. He has received multiple recognitions from the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and 3×3 Magazine. He works out of his 1920’s home in Cleveland Heights, OH with his crazy dogs, Owen and Jack.