Empowering Identities: A Roundup

Written & Illustrated by: 

Various, check out the individual posts below!

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered:

  • Historical Figures
  • Own Voices
  • Bicultural
  • Trans Experience
  • Social-Emotional Learning


Books are wonderful things. They reflect our own experiences and provide portals into the experiences of others. I wanted to provide a short roundup of recent releases that empower identities that are not normalized in the media as often as the white heterosexual Eurocentric one is. Below are 5 books that cultivate joy and resilience that I have truly enjoyed reading recently, and I hope your library list grows a bit longer by the end of this roundup!

If you, like me, have decided that you can’t live without any of these books, our Bookshop is linked here. We do make a small commission off of sales at no additional cost to you.

The Heart of Mi Familia: This book follows a young girl as she talks about the two different sides of her family: her father was born in Central America and her abuela still lives there; her mother was born in the US, after her family immigrated several generations ago. 

Our main character is helping both her abuela and grandma get together a special birthday surprise for her younger brother. The story beautifully weaves together a bicultural family, Spanish, and happy memories from various events with grandparents. In the back in an author’s note from Carrie Lara, PsyD, she draws on both professional and personal experiences to talk at length about empowering bicultural children to embrace their unique identities and experiences. It includes tips about supporting students and children, as well as dealing with discrimination. The story overall is beautiful and focuses on the similarities between the different family members houses, and what she does with her cousins.

Written by: Carrie Lara, PsyD & Illustrated by: Christine Battuz

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners: This book is stunningly beautiful in artwork and text. This empowering story has a main character that loves that her eyes are the same as her family members, their eyes all kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea. The story focuses on joy and loving family; the things they do together, the happy moments they relish, and their eyes that glow like a revolution. 

In a society that has very entrenched Eurocentric beauty standards portrayed in the media, self-esteem and confidence is truly a revolutionary act. The illustrations that Dung Ho brought to life phenomenally support the text. The colors are bright, and the pictures are a mix of actual family moments and abstract imaginations from our main character.

Written by: Joanna Ho & Illustrated by: Dung Ho

The ABC’s of Black History combines effortless rhyme, alliteration, and history to bring readers on a journey of learning and empowerment. 

Rather than have one or a small list of words that go with the particular alphabet letter, author Rio Cortez has created a whole scene that gives context and names to various events that often go untaught in schools. There are so many tiny details, like the bookshelf filled Black writers (surely lengthening anyone’s reading list) and the extra information about Kwanzaa. The illustrations by Lauren Semmer are gorgeous, matching perfectly with the powerful text. The blending of joy and history walks a line that doesn’t sugarcoat the past and emphasizes achievement.

Written by: Rio Cortez & Illustrated by: Lauren Semmer

The Fighting Infantryman: This book is so important and shows the existence of the LGBTQ community has been around throughout history, and there have always been those that accepted and celebrated us. This story is beautiful, it tells the multifaceted existence of Albert. Albert was transgender, and he was also a veteran. He passed the physical examination when enlisting by just having his hands and feet inspected. Albert worked and was a part of his community for decades afterwards, living his life quietly and comfortable in his identity. When Albert injured his leg in an accident in 1911, word soon spread that he was transgender. It became national news, and his army pension was threatened. But, in a show of active ally ships and true friendship, veteran friends of Albert’s wrote letters on his behalf. Affirming his identity and bravery in the war, they plead with the government to reinstate Albert’s pension. This would both help Albert financially and ensure that he was recognized by the correct name both in life and afterwards in history.

The transphobia he faced, and the comrades he had that acted on his behalf when he was ill and those that ensured he was buried in his military uniform with the correct name on his gravestone. All of our lives are beautiful and complicated, and the legacy of Albert Cashier is reflective of many identities today, a crucial read for young people everywhere.

Written by:  Rob Sanders & Illustrated by: Nabi H. Ali

My Rainbow: I love many things about this story, and the empowering language is probably the number one aspect that I can’t say enough about. DeShanna unequivocally supports and celebrates her daughter, knowing that everything that makes her unique adds to her beauty. DeShanna trusts her children and recognizes that they know themselves the best.  My Rainbow is a beautiful story that reflects Black trans youth and neurodiversity, and having Trinity and DeShanna write the book, and a QTPOC illustrator makes it that much more meaningful. Our literature should reflect the multifaceted lives of all global citizens, particularly those that are underrepresented and marginalized. I love the way DeShanna describes Trinity as a masterpiece, which is how every person should be described by the people that love them most. DeShanna is committed to ensuring her family is treated with love and respect both in and out of the home, and that other transgender children are understood and loved in their communities as well, which is truly such a beautiful goal that is unequivocally achieved by this book.

Written by: Trinity & DeShanna Neal & Illustrated by: Art Twink

The first four of these books were sent by the publishers, but My Rainbow was purchased with my own money.