Category Archives: Non-Binary Identity

What Riley Wore

Written by: Elana K. Arnold

Illustrated by: Linda Davick

For ages: 2-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Friendship, Gender Expression, Gender Neutral Pronouns, Family, Love, Acceptance, Fashion, Creativity, Social-Emotional Learning.

Summary: Riley is a creative dresser, and often dresses based on how they feel!  Some outfits are just right for the first day of school (like a bunny outfit) and some outfits are perfect for the dentist (something to make you feel brave!)

This is an incredibly adorable story about Riley and how the dress.  Riley dresses in whatever they want, and has a creative gender expression.  The book goes through a week of Riley’s outfits and the reasoning behind why Riley chose them.  We really love that Riley isn’t gendered in this book, because clothes are for everyone and there are many children who don’t want to be a boy or a girl (and some who feel like both)!  We also really love that not wearing anything at all sometimes is totally normal!  Normalizing all experiences, feelings, and bodies is something we love to see along with a diverse friend group in a book. Riley themself is racially ambiguous, which is a novel change from the barrage of white characters so often seen in books.

Both non-gendered and non-binary representation is so crucial, as is not promoting gender stereotypes.  Seeing this book is a fantastic representation of how times are changing.  Because really, it doesn’t matter how Riley identifies.  Riley wants to be a good friend and shows several examples of kindness and thinks about others consistently throughout the book.  When a child asks if Riley is a boy or a girl on the playground, they answer in a perfect way that suits them best.  We highly recommend this book, especially for young ones who may be thinking that there are specific clothing pieces or colors that only specific kids should wear.  This is a book we can see being requested to be read over and over!

This book was generously sent to us by Beach Lane Books (an iteration of Simon and Schuster Kids) but all opinions are our own.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you dress in different ways, depending on how you feel?
  • What’s your superpower?
  • Do you think Riley is right, and that friendship can be a superpower?
  • Do you think it’s important if someone is a boy or a girl to be able to play with them?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

elana-e1484018914417-200x200ELANA K. ARNOLD is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets. 

 

image-asset-2Linda Davick is an author and illustrator with a background in design.

The first book she illustrated, 10 Trick-or-Treaters (Knopf) hit the New York Times best seller list and has sold over 200,000 copies. The first book she both wrote and illustrated I Love You, Nose! I Love You, Toes! (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster) won an Ezra Jack Keats honor.

Her animation work includes over 200 e-cards for Amazon and over 100 pieces of animation for Whistlefritz.

Some of her clients: Amazon.com, Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, Charlotte Mecklenburg Education Foundation, Crayola, Klutz Press, Knopf, Little Brown, Philadelphia Campaign for Greater Education, and Sesame Street.

Linda lives near a nature preserve in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

The Love-Alphabet Rockers

Featured Artists and Guest Artists:

Alphabet Rockers - HighRes Photo by NinoFernandez
Photo by Nino Fernandez

Over 60 guest artists join the Alphabet Rockers co-founders, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. Voices from our next generation — Lillian Ellis, Maya Fleming, Kali de Jesus and Tommy “T3PO” Shepherd III, as well as 123 Andrés, Angel & Koja Adeyoha, Aris Wong, Ashanti Branch, Billy Dean Thomas, Celestina Pearl and Esperanza Carter-Pearl, Genevieve Goings, H. Daniel Mujahid, Harlow Carpenter, Honey Mahogany, Jennifer Johns, Juan “Wonway Posibul” Amador, Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods, KARLON, Kiran Nagraj, Lucy Kalantari, M. Zamora, MADLines, Mahawam, Malachi Garza, mariposa & AmihanCh’íníbaa’, Michelle “CHELLE” Jacques, Mike McCann, Nizhoni & Pálxcqíwn Ellenwood, Okee Dokee Brothers, Rei Matsuno, Rhonda Crane, RyanNicole, Samara Atkins, SaulPaul, Shaina Evoniuk, The Singing Bois, Sólás B. Lalgee, Yaw, Yiann, Zumbi Zoom.

For ages: Humans of all ages can groove to these beats!
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Image via Kanyon Konsulting LLC

Language: Primarily English and Spanish, but features many other languages in songs such as This is Ohlone Land which acknowledges the variety of indigenous groups and languages of Oakland, CA, where the album was recorded.

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Non-Binary Identity, Transgender Activism, Radical Joy, Self-Love, Cultural Consciousness and Pride, Self-Expression, Respect for All, Survival, Black Gxrl Magic, Ancestral Power and Healing, Strength, and Truth.

 

Summary:

It is impossible to sit silent and still when listening

to the Alphabet Rocker’s album The Love.

The album begins with a respectful acknowledgement of the land on which it was recorded, setting the stage for the thoughtful and transformational nature of the album.  Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd cover a wide range of topics artfully and powerfully.  In other hands and different voices the album could be heavy-handed and preachy, but by allowing the guest artists featured on the album to speak their truth, McGaw and Shepherd spread the love and recognition across the board.

ruth azul
Art by Ruth Azul

The Love is joyful, realistic but also hopeful, which can be an extremely challenging balance to strike-and they do it expertly.  The music and lyrics recognize the struggle and work of past generations and queer people of color from the far reaches of history like Hatshepsut to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, founders of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries as well as today’s activists like two-spirit Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas.

sharice
(R-KS) Sharice Davids

The album’s lyrics could easily parrot the “everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “life is suffering” binary found in many narratives.  Instead, the artists both acknowledge the injustice heaped upon marginalized groups and create a sense of hope that emanates from songs like “Black Gxrl Magic.”  This faith in the promise of the future is fired up by “the next generation” of voices, empowered young people who speak their mind clearly and energetically.

We loved the small photos with pronouns of all the other artists featured on the album!  It allowed us to get to know each artist as an individual, and provided a visual reference for the wide range of personalities, identities and cultures represented in the fantastic music. The explicit celebration of the many intersections of queerness and cultural identity is refreshing and radical, as so many queer narratives are whitewashed and simplified to appeal to a larger audience. The Alphabet Rockers recognize the truth of the windows and mirrors approach that we reference here at the Tiny Activist; that honoring the distinct identities of people who are not like you creates more space for everyone.

gender-wheel-poster-web
The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez

One feature of the album that we particularly enjoyed were the interludes, especially They/Them, where each speaker introduces themselves with their pronouns.  It was powerful recognizing that children are able to grasp and see the importance this practice, especially when so many adults can’t be bothered to do the same. It gives us great hope that the next generation will be more open and accepting from a young age.The interludes create a space for dialogue, and they echo the practice found in other hip-hop albums, presenting more voices and personalities to be heard (both literally and figuratively).

Thinking in terms of incorporating this album in a class or community space, the short interludes allow for breaks and group discussion. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex in their understanding of culture and intersectionality, but easy to follow along with. The language is accessible and the lyrics are nuanced, subverting the tradition of simplifying concepts and wording in music produced for children.

The songs in this album went by so quickly, and it hardly seemed like 17 tracks! The Love should be in every classroom, so bring on the social justice dance parties!

About the Artists:

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

ALPHABET ROCKERS make music that makes change. Led by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him), they create brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke has reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their latest album, The Love (2019) lifts up voices of our trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming community.

With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival (Oakland) and Kidchella (Philadelphia), and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were Izzy Award Winners in 2018, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017 and 2018, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Alphabet Rockers appeal to a broad audience with lyrics like “I will stand up for you” and “I shine in my beautiful skin,” landing them in the top 5 songs of 2018 on Kids Place Live SiriusXM Radio. Their music, videos, concerts and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents and young people of all genders.

YOU KNOW I GOT YOU, SO GET ME!

The Tiny Activist was able to be a guest on “Reading With Your Kids” Podcast!

Happy Friday!

We had the amazing opportunity to be guests on an awesome podcast in the children’s literature community-Reading With Your Kids! The podcast puts up 5 episodes a week and interviews everyone from authors & illustrators to extra special guests like LeVar Burton!

The two of us were able to discuss a variety of topics with the host Jedlie; our mission and drive, as well as aspects of literacy and the best things about being in the children’s literature community.  We truly enjoyed being able to discuss the issues that are important to us, and what makes an important literary contribution to the ever-growing publishing industry.  It was a fantastic experience and fortuitous moments like this remind us how lucky we are to be able to continue developing the scope of our skills and community-building.

You can listen to our episode here! Let us know what you think, and be sure to listen to some of the other guests on the podcast as well 🙂 Have a great day everyone!

It Feels Good To Be Yourself; A Book About Gender Identity

Written by: Theresa Thorn

Illustrated by: Noah Grigni

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Acceptance, Self-Esteem, Gender Identity, LGBTQ Youth, Friendship,  Family, Love, Own Voices, Community, POC-Centric Narratives. 

Summary: This book is INCREDIBLE.  It was written clearly and in a style that shows us the author is familiar with children, and explaining things to them.  The book affirms and reaffirms for children that how they feel is more than ok, it should be greeted with love and acceptance and then celebrated.

The book’s characters have several different gender identities and describes being cisgender, transgender, and non-binary in a way that is very easy for young children to understand.  The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and some of the most diverse around.  There are disabled characters, characters with different body sizes, and children of color are very well represented!

The characters Ruthie, JJ, and Alex are described by how they feel inside, aka gender identity.  These explanations are very developmentally appropriate and easy for children to understand and identify with.  In the back, there is a helpful list of terms for those who may not be familiar.  These terms will also help older children get more vocabulary information from the story.  Additionally, there is a blurb about pronouns and a list of helpful resources.  There is even a note from both the author and illustrator about their own experiences with gender identity!  In our opinion, everyone should have a copy of this book!

Reflection Questions:

  • Did you identify with a specific character in this book?
  • What does is feel like when you try and tell someone something but they don’t listen?
  • How can you be a good friend to someone who tells you that adults might have made a mistake when deciding that they’re a boy or girl?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • There are lots of different things some people say are only for certain people.  Make a list of these things, and talk about why people say these things, and if they’re right or not.  Can anyone wear a dress?  Are certain games only for boys?  Who gets to decide these things?
  • Come up with strategies for what to say to someone who thinks another person or classmate is “weird” or “wrong” for feeling and doing what they want.  How can you educate someone that doesn’t think non-binary or transgender people exist?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

200068642Theresa Thorn is the cohost of the parenting humor podcast One Bad Mother and the coauthor of You’re Doing a Great Job! 100 Ways You’re Winning at Parenting. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and It Feels Good to Be Yourself is her first book for children.

 

 

 

headshotNoah Grigni is an illustrator and comic artist from Decatur, Georgia, whose work focuses on themes of gender fluidity, body positivity, and mental health. Through art and writing, they hope to make space for more stories centering diverse trans characters with depth, personality, and agency. Their work is introspective, bold, and playful, using vulnerability as a way to start difficult conversations and encourage honest reflection. Noah’s art is a reminder to heal, a call to action, and above all, an unapologetic celebration of trans and queer love. Noah lives in Boston with their partner, Braden, and their cat, Valentino.

Noah graduated from Lesley University in 2018 with a BFA in illustration and a minor in creative writing. Their art has appeared in It Feels Good To Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn, We’re Still Here: An All-Trans Comics Anthology by Tara Avery and Jeanne Thornton, The Transgender Heroes Coloring Book by Avery and Cameron, The Gender Identity Workbook For Kids by Kelly Storck, and The Worry Workbook For Kids by Muniya Khanna. They have also self-published their art and writing in several zines, including Don’t Cut My Flowers, Dibujitos//Aguadilla, Anatomy of a Wallflower, and The Lighthouse, which are available on Etsy.  They recently finished illustrating The Big Talk by Rachel Simon, coming in 2020 from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Noah is currently working on their first graphic novel, Cloudland, coming in 2021 from Macmillan, among other projects.

Noah was assigned female at birth, and came out as trans in high school.

Sound off Saturday: Ourselves!

Hi everyone!  We have gotten so many new social media followers over the past couple months we decided to capitalize on waiting for our awesome forthcoming Sound off Saturday-ers and have a post about ourselves!  Hope you enjoy it, and learn a thing or two as well 🙂

Introduce yourself/your organization!

Although we recently got the BIGGEST compliment which called our operation ‘a team’ of people, The Tiny Activist is fueled by the two Locke-Hardy’s: Corrie & Lee, as well as a hefty dose of coffee. Corrie is fastidious about making and keeping cold brew daily in the refrigerator!  We started this website and social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) just under a year ago, and have been floored by the support we have received from the children’s literature community, and we can’t wait to see where we go in the year ahead!  We would eventually love to post more detailed curriculum about the books we love, as well as a video or two.

What are you passionate about?

decolonize
Yvette de Chavez‘s Amazing Art

CLH: I am passionate about curriculum redesign and development.  I think the majority of our public school curriculum and standards are Eurocentric, ableist, and marginalizing to a variety of experiences.  I would love to be able to make my mark by providing lessons that uplift marginalized communities and provide support to the educators already doing this important work.  On a lighter note, I’ve recently gotten into printmaking and am in love with that process of design and creation!

LLH: I am passionate about art, music and making others feel loved. I am passionate about working to heal inherited trauma, and building community (whether online or IRL) for nonbinary and other GNC (gender non-conforming) people.

mbmbam_56.0

I’m also passionate about the McElroy Family of Products™, including the podcasts My Brother, My Brother and Me, Sawbones and Wonderful. You can pretty much guarantee that at any given time of the day that I’m somewhere laughing out loud in joy at the silly jokes and goofs.

Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

IMG_1993CLH: In grad school this summer and upcoming fall semester I have gotten the opportunity to pilot my own research study!  I will be interviewing and observing educators who are already teaching the type of curriculum I believe should be in every classroom.  This summer I am also managing the town farmers market, which has been a fun new experience for me!  Getting paid to hang out in the sunshine with farmers is an ideal job for me

LLH: Since I started a new job, I’ve been learning at how to be the best at it, and most of my time outside work is spent listening to podcasts (see above) or making art on my iPad using the app Procreate. I like to take photos of things I see out and about and make art with them!

How can people support you on your journey?

CLH: Provide book recommendations for The Tiny Activist, share my research study with those you think might be interested, and share meaningful books to those within your own life!

LLH: Like Corrie said above, we always welcome recommendations, and if people can continue to spread the word about the work that we’re doing, we are so grateful for the opportunity to amplify the books and projects of other activists!

What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?41+lolL22gL

CLH: Alright buckle up folx, we’re here to categorize. Favorite book that I’ve reread in 2019 is Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari.  It’s excellent, and details a lot of the evolution of both humans and society by breaking history down into four revolutions; the cognitive, agricultural, unification, and scientific revolutions have been the foundation for where we find ourselves today.  Favorite children’s books published this year have been Our Rainbow, Lubna and Pebble, Hair Love, and I Will Be Fierce! 

LLH: I am guilty of not reading long-form books, but my favorite children’s book I have read thus far is Our Rainbow. I really enjoy reading The Boston Globe every morning to keep up with townie news (I have my favorite columnists), and reading my oracle cards (I use Spirit de la Lune). My other favorite reads are the painfully accurate clickbait articles on Reductress. Basically I read everything but books-oops!

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

IMG_2029CLH: We are embarking on our biggest adventure yet: buying land!  Lee and I are on the search for the perfect piece of land to build a tiny cabin on, and I may or may not be (but definitely am) spending hours everyday poring over options online and planning everything down to the letter in the most endearing and neurotic way possible.  I am also looking forward to beginning the second year of my masters program, and deciding if a doctoral program is the next step.

LLH: I am looking forward to growing more confident in my skills at work, and working on my mental and physical health, and like Corrie said above, begin the adventure of buying land and creating an intentional space that is all our own for the first time in our relationship!

Our Rainbow

Written by: Partnership between GLAAD & little bee books, additional appreciation to Tierney (creators of the Philly Pride Flag)

Illustrated by: C.G. Esperanza (Opening), Mohammed Fayaz (Black/Brown), Love is Wise (Red), Beena Mistry (Orange), Dylan Glynn (Yellow), Cynthia Yuan Cheng (Green), J Yang (Blue), Chris Kindred (Purple), Jeromy Velasco (Closing)

For ages: Toddler & up

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Acceptance, Self-Expression, Social-Emotional Development, Activism.

Summary: This book is SO cool!  It is a board book shaped like a waving flag, which is a great sensory experience for readers.  The collaboration of this book specifically covers the Philly Pride Flag and what the flag represents for our LGBTQ community.  A different artist illustrates for each color, explaining the original meanings intended by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker.  Feelings, Nature, Forgiveness, and many more are included in this book that will be engaging to a variety of ages.  We can’t recommend this book enough, it needs to be on every shelf!

Having books that normalize the LGBTQ community is crucial for community members and allies alike.  Children that grow up seeing multiple family structures are more accepting and open to real individuals that they will inevitably encounter in their daily lives.  We need to be proud to know (and be!) these people all year round, not just during Pride Month.  Like other marginalized populations, corporations and advertising focus on them for a month and then do nothing for the rest of the year that benefits them (and sometimes have policies in place that actively hurt members).  What can we do to stop these harmful practices for everyone, especially individuals that are marginalized in a variety of ways?

Reflection Questions:

  • What is your favorite color in the rainbow?
  • Why do you think that specific flags were designed to celebrate different communities?
  • What do you think is important for everyone to know about the rainbow flag?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Design your own flag that represents you.  What colors and symbols are important to you and your family?
  • Learn more about the organizations that helped make this book possible.  Why were they passionate about LGBTQ activism enough to make books for children?
  • Find out what you can do in your community for the LGBTQ members that live there.  Are there specific resources needed, or community centered activities that you can be a part of?

About the Authors & Illustrators:

glaadFor over 30 years, GLAAD has been at the forefront of cultural change, accelerating acceptance for the LGBTQ community. GLAAD was founded in November of 1987 in response to the New York Post’s grossly defamatory and sensationalized HIV and AIDS coverage, and in that same year they persuaded the New York Times to start using the term “gay” instead of “homosexual” so that they could help the Times “get with the times”. They have been continuing to monitor and influence the media since then!


Little-Bee-Books-Logo-e1505769066989

little bee books is a children’s book publisher dedicated to making high-quality,
creative, and fun books for busy little bees ages 0 through 12, offering an inspired selection of early learning concept books, board books, novelty books, activity books, picture books, chapter books, nonfiction, gift sets, and more.


cgesperanzaOpening

Born the second of six kids. The South Bronx is where C.G. Esperanza first opened his eyelids. A land shrouded in bright colored decay, the birthplace of graffiti and the hip-hop DJ! He paints fantasy worlds of elephants, and castles too! Accompanying this wonder is some whimsical truth. Charles has a voice that is seldom heard. A fusion of jazz, distorted guitars, and chirping birds.

Author and Illustrator of “Red, Yellow,Blue and a dash of White too!” available now! (Skypony Press)


 

Black/Brownmofayaz

Mohammed Fayaz is an illustrator and one of the organizers of Papi Juice. Born and raised in New York City, Mohammed’s illustrations are intent on documenting his community of queer and trans people of color. With work that spans digital and mixed media, his illustrations lend an eye into a world traditionally left out of mainstream media.

 

 


 Red

2018-05-31-e-lee-loveis-wise-university-of-the-arts-new-yorker-cover-illustration-1-768x512Love is Wise is a Freelance Illustrator based in Philadelphia from Washington, DC. In addition to being a Capricorn lady who is obsessed with the color pink, she has worked with some amazing clients such as The New Yorker, L’Oreal, The New York Times, REI, Refinery29, BuzzFeed News, Bitch Media, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia Printworks ,Illustrated Impact, Tampa Bay Times, Eileen Fisher, The Poetry Foundation, Cartoon Network, LeafTV, Got A Girl Crush, BUST Magazine & Wieden+Kennedy

Check out her collection of prints/shirts here with Philadelphia Printworks, The Schomburg Center in Harlem, buy prints of her New Yorker cover here and her Etsy shop here.

Contact her for a chat, commissions, & inquiries at loveiswiseillustrations@gmail.com!


Orange

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Beena Mistry is a combo pack UX Designer and Illustrator who can tell some pretty good stories with shapes and colour. Find Beena at beenamistryart@gmail.com and @BEENATHEMISTRY.

 


Yellow

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Dylan Glynn is based in Toronto and studied animation at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and directing for animation in Valence, France. His multidisciplinary practice is characterised by its emotion, grace and sense of wild-movement. His work has been recognized and exhibited by Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Somerset House and the Canadian Screen Awards.

 

 


Green

selfie

Cynthia Yuan Cheng is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist recently landed in Los Angeles, CA. Cynthia loves to create warm, hopeful comics & illustrations exploring relationships, identity, and personal experience.

In her free time, you can find Cynthia on the hunt for delicious foods and fun movies.  She grew up reading manga and playing American football in New Jersey and graduated from MICA with a B.F.A. in Illustration and a concentration in Sequential Art.

Find her on social media: twitter / instagram / tumblr
Her online store can be found here.


Blue

JYang_Morn3J YANG is a trans illustrator and designer working in children’s books and education. Published work—Our Rainbow, Spirit Day (upcoming this fall), and the interior illustrations in Craftily Book 6. The content J aims to put out in the world normalizes the existence of queer people, people of color, and disabled people by not making their differences the focal point of the story. J organizes & produces 2 charity artbooks a year with 30+ artists each—check out the Found Family Zine, Huemanity 2019 (a calendar), and this year’s #DogsforFlint and Beyond The Veil. Based in New York. BFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute. Pronouns they/he. Reach out at jyang1029@gmail.com!


 Purple

chriskindred

Chris Kindred is an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer working in Richmond, VA. He can be found on twitter and via email here: chris@chriskindred.com

 

 


 Closing

jeromy velasquez

 

Jeromy Velasco is a left-handed illustrator/printmaker currently based in Los Angeles. Contact Jeromy via email, on instagram and twitter!

We’re here to profile #lgbtcharacters who #smashstereotypes!

It’s Day 10 folks, and we’re so excited that the topic of #lgbtcharacters has come up, because as two queer educators, we are super passionate about the representation that younger LGBTQ folks can experience with the wealth of books now available!

To check out our list of Top Books with LGBTQ Characters, read on!


from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea

Written by: Kai Cheng Thom

Illustrated by: Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching

For ages: 3-8 years

from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea is an incredible portrait of what it feels like to be a child in between. Gorgeously illustrated by Way-yant Li and Kai Yun Ching, it tells the story of Miu Lan. “Born when both the moon and the sun were in the sky”, Miu Lan “couldn’t decide what to be.” Supported and loved by their mother, Miu Lan is a “strange, magical child” with the ability to adopt various animal characteristics. This empowering home environment is contrasted with Miu Lan’s experience at school, where the other students are all “either boys or girls”. Challenging gendered expectations, Miu Lan must discover how to express their truth fully and without fear.


Jack Not Jackie

Written by: Erica Silverman

Illustrated by: Holly Hatam

For ages: 4-8 years

 When the two kids’ mom gives them haircuts, Susan goes first.  She wants her hair long, but Jackie urges their mother to keep cutting more and more hair off until Susan yells that Jackie looks like a boy.  “I am a boy!” says Jackie, and their mother is quiet, finally recognizing that Jackie has been telling them something important for a long time.  Jackie asks Susan to call him Jack, and Susan begins to cry, saying she doesn’t want a brother, she wants a sister.  Susan goes to sit alone in her tent to think things over, and brings art supplies with her.  She draw two pictures-one of Jackie and one of Jack. Susan notices that both pictures have the same eyes and the same smile. 


I Am Jazz

Written by: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Illustrated by: Shelagh McNicholas

For Ages: 4-8 years

This book is great for readers of any age, introducing the real-life experiences of of trans youth in a thoughtful, understandable way.  The prevailing notion of living your own personal truth has been a very strong narrative most recently, and Jazz’s story adds her valuable experience. She says that she feels good when she does things like play on the girls soccer team, and ignores kids in her school that make fun of her.  The book closes with Jazz saying she doesn’t mind being different, because she is special and proud to be who she is!


George

Written by: Alex Gino

For Ages: 8-12 years (chapter book)

George wants to be Charlotte in the school play, but the role is only for a girl.  She secretly looks at beauty magazines and wishes she were friends with the glossy images.  These characters are beautifully developed for a young adult novel, and have very believable reactions and dialogue with each other. This book is beautiful, and the unexpected twists and turns make it hard to put down.  The plot explores a young mind from that believable perspective-unsure yet sure at the same time, nervous but yearning to break free.  Character development and tender exchanges between George and Scott were unexpected and welcomed, as Scott accepts George immediately, and subverts the “older brother is a bigoted jock” narrative that is common in a lot of LGBTQ media!