Tag Archives: family acceptance

Ho’onani Hula Warrior

Written by: Heather Gale

Illustrated by: Mika Song

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English and Hawaiian

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Hawaiian Culture & Traditions, Hula, Indigenous Voices, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Trailblazer, History, Historical Figure, Biographical, Self-Esteem, Family, Acceptance. 

Summary: 

This is an incredible book based on a real person!  Ho’onani is a young girl that feels in the middle of being a girl (wahine) and a boy (kâne) but still uses feminine pronouns.  Indigenous Hawaiians have a term for this, called mâhû. In the story, Ho’onani is accepted and encouraged by her family, except for her sister (in real life, this is not true!) who wishes Ho’onani would conform to traditional gender roles.  Luckily, one of Ho’onani’s teachers named Kumu Hina, (Kumu is Hawaiian for ‘teacher’) supports Ho’onani and allows her to be herself, in the middle.  Ho’onani wants to lead the boys hula performance at the end of the school year, something a girl has never done!  Luckily, Ho’onani’s community is supportive, and she makes history onstage, winning over the approval of her aforementioned sister that is on the fence with how openly Ho’onani embraces her identity.

There was a documentary made about the real Ho’onani by PBS in 2015!  Something that the documentary addresses that there isn’t enough room for in the children’s book is the fact that Ho’onani’s teacher, Kumu Hina, is a transgender woman.  The pair are very close, and Kumu Hina has developed her own terminology for the classroom to be more inclusive for gender non-conforming students mâhû students.

Indigenous Hawaiian gender identities are also discussed in the academic text, Critically Sovereign, which goes more in-depth about how colonialism shaped Hawaiian sexuality and gender identity, oppressing those that were not within the male-female binary.  The chapter about mâhû identity also takes into account the struggle for marriage equality within Hawai’i that started earlier than any other state, in the 1990’s.  The marriage equality debate is also wrapped up into the debate about Indigenous Hawaiian sovereignty, and if there should be a seceding from the greater government to create their own nation much like other Indigenous tribal nations found on the mainland.

You can watch the documentary about Ho’onani for free, here!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

I'm glad you've stopped by!

HEATHER GALE is a former orthotist and author originally from New Zealand. Heather loves stories of all kinds, but she especially loves those that feature real people like Ho’onani. She fell in love with the art of storytelling during long car rides, making up stories to go with the scenes flashing by. Heather has two sons and now lives in Toronto with her husband and their two dogs.

 

 

 

Image result for mika song illustrator

 

MIKA SONG is a children’s author/illustrator who makes stories about sweetly funny outsiders.

Mika Song grew up in Manila, Philippines. As a child she wrote letters to a mouse who lived under her mother’s desk. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and cat.

When Aidan Became a Brother

Written by: Kyle Lukoff

Illustrated by: Kaylani Juanita

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Gender Identity, Family, LGBTQ Youth, Trans Experience, Gender Stereotypes, Growing Up, Pregnancy, Siblings, Social-Emotional Learning, Empathy.

Summary: Since it’s Corrie’s birthday, she wanted to post a book that she’s currently loving and can’t stop talking about.  This book is SO cute, we’re a bit obsessed with it.  It tackles several issues all at once, and each is incredibly well-done and easy for young readers to understand.  This is a book that belongs in every classroom as soon as possible, and we are so grateful to the author and incredibly talented illustrator for bringing this story to life.

Everyone thought that Aidan was a girl when he was born, and when he was young it was frustrating to be so misunderstood.  Eventually, he figured out a way to express himself and his parents helped make the adjustments he wanted so he could feel more comfortable in what he wore and what his bedroom looked like.  Now that Aidan’s mother is pregnant again, Aidan wants to make sure he’s the best big brother possible and this includes making sure that the new baby isn’t misunderstood like he was.  The book goes through a lot of the preparations a family makes when getting ready for a new addition, with special care taken not to gender the new baby or put any stereotypes in place in terms of a name or room color.  A particularly adorable illustration shows Aidan researching names in a baby name book, but he has changed the title from “boys and girls” to “babies and babies”, specifically wanting a neutral name.

The care that Aidan takes shows an immense amount of empathy for his new sibling, wanting them to feel wholly loved and cared for without any of the pressures that gender stereotyping places on a new life.  In the back of the story is an author’s note about Kyle Lukoff’s own journey to being his authentic self, and it adds another level of tenderness to the story itself.

This book was sent to us by the Lee & Low for review, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

head+shot+copyKyle Lukoff writes books for kids and other people, here is a bit more about him from Kyle’s website! “Right now you can read A STORYTELLING OF RAVENS and WHEN AIDAN BECAME A BROTHER. Soon you’ll be able to read the MAX AND FRIENDS series, and also EXPLOSION AT THE POEM FACTORY.

I’m also a school librarian. When I’m not helping my students finds books I review professionally, assist in sensitivity readings and consultations, and present on the importance of children’s and youth literature all across the country.

I was born outside of Chicago, and moved to Washington State when I was five. I moved to New York City for college in 2002 and never left, except for an extremely brief attempt at law school. I got hired at Barnes and Noble when I was sixteen, and have been working at the intersection of books and people for over half my life. I write about transgender kids, collective nouns, poetry, and queer lives.”

juanitaKaylani Juanita is an illustrator based in Fairfield, CA who illustrates inclusive picture books, editorial art, and afros. Some of her clients include Chronicle Books, Cicada Magazine, and DEFY. Her work has been recognized by Society of Illustrators, The Huffington Post, as well as BBC. California grown and raised, she’s studied at Cal Arts and CCA for a BFA in Illustration. Her mission as an artist is to support the stories of the under represented and create new ways for people to imagine themselves. You can find her lurking in public secretly drawing strangers or writing nonsensical stories about who knows what.

I’m So NOT Wearing A Dress!

Written by: Julie Merberg

Illustrated by: Mai Kemble

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Tomboy, Acceptance, Family, Sports, Social-Emotional Development.

Summary: Shelby likes to climb trees, dig for worms with her best friend Nate, and wear nothing but her dirty red high tops.  Shelby’s neighbor Sophie always wants her to have tea parties and dress up like princesses but Shelby is NOT interested.  One day Shelby gets home and her parents present her with several dresses and some news-Shelby is going to be a flower girl in a wedding and she gets to dress up fancy!  Shelby declares that she is SO not wearing a dress!  She wants to wear a baseball hat, not a tiara.  She wants to weather sneakers, not high heels.  What will Shelby do?  Is there a compromise to be made?  Will she HAVE to wear a dress?

We all have to compromise sometimes, to make others happy.  What is not fair, is someone that feels like they must constantly suppress who they are in order to be taken seriously, not teased, or receive positive attention from classmates and family members.  This book is cute because of course wearing a fancy dress for one occasion isn’t everyone’s favorite, but Shelby is able to retain a bit of her personality in the end.  This makes it memorable for everyone!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever had a big event like Shelby did, being a flower girl?
  • How do you feel when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do?
  • How do you compromise with others?
  • What is your advice to people that sometimes have to do things like wear a fancy dress when they don’t want to?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

julie-and-booksJulie Merberg is the author of many children’s books including My First Book of Girl Power, My First Book of Feminism (for Boys), In the Garden with Van Gogh (and the rest of the best-selling Mini Masters series), How is Mona Lisa Feeling?, and My Favorite Shoes. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer David Bar Katz, their four hilarious sons, and a sweet mutt named Alvy Singer. Julie Merberg began her publishing career 30 years ago as an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster—which now handles sales and distribution for Downtown Bookworks. Many years as an editor and then as a packager led her to launch Downtown Bookworks as a book packaging company in 2005. But it was her experience as a mother of 4 boys that compelled her to start a children’s publishing company with the mission of keeping kids engaged in reading and the world around them. The list reflects her passions—science and nature, the arts, girl power (and her husband’s passion—super heroes). She has written many of our books including My First Book of Feminism (for Boys), Baby’s First Eames, My First Book of Girl Power, and My First Jewish Baby Book. Julie lives in Tribeca with her husband, their sons, and a rescue mutt named Alvy who sleeps under her desk and protects her from delivery people.

photo6775b15dMai Kemble was born in Long Beach, CA in 1981 and raised in Huntington Beach, CA. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach in 2005 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) since winning the Illustrator Contest for “Crusin’” in 2007, and was also one of their Featured Artists in 2008. Since then, she has illustrated several picture books with various publishers.

Mai currently lives in Lancaster, CA with her husband Joshua Kemble (Xeric Grant Winner for NUMB/comic book artist/designer/illustrator), their son and two dogs.

Email Mai by clicking here.

Mai also enjoys creating images that feature pets and other favorite animals.  See these featured on various merchandise for purchase at her Society6 page or contact her via Facebook to stay-up-to date with these ever growing images.

You can follow Mai on Instagram @maikemble

Juliet Takes A Breath

Written by: Gabby Rivera

Cover Art by: Cristy C. Road

For ages: YA Book

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Queer Theory, Racism, White Feminism, Growing Up, Relationships, Family, Love.

Summary: Ya’all this book is SO IMPORTANT.  Juliet is a young Puerto Rican woman on her way to the internship of her dreams.  All she has to do is come out to her entire family at her going away dinner and then hop on a plane.  Once in Portland Oregon, this Bronx girl gets the culture shock of a lifetime.  Hippies, White Feminism, learning how to be both an intern and away from her girlfriend for the entire summer-it’s a doozy.  Juliet is able to take the time to get to know herself, navigate growing up and getting a crash course in queer theory politics takes up most of her time.  Not to mention there’s dealing with the emotional fallout of a mother who thinks her sexuality is just a phase, and getting to know the very cute librarian Kira during her research as well.

This book is something everyone can relate to.  Having a book that centers queer brown voices is something that youths today need.  It openly calls out racism found within white feminism, and how it permeates every space.  Juliet learns a lot about the world, her place in it, and how sometimes running away isn’t going to solve things.  Juliet wrestles with emotions, long-distance relationships, and idolizing mentors that don’t turn out to be exactly what she expected.  Everyone should read this!!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

5b05dd521e00007d038e66b1Gabby Rivera’s critically acclaimed debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath was called “f*cking outstanding” by Roxane Gay and will be published in hardcover for the first time in fall 2019 by a new publisher. Gabby has also written in the Lumberjanes universe for Boom! Studios. Her latest short story O.1 can be found in Victor LaValle’s recent anthology A People’s Future of the United States. Gabby is currently working on her next novel.

When not writing, Gabby speaks on her experiences as a queer Puerto Rican from the Bronx, an LGBTQ youth advocate, and the importance of centering joy in narratives as Latinx people and people of color at events across the country.

Gabby is signed with the LAVIN agency speakers’ bureau. She’s represented by Jo Volpe and Devin Ross at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.

Gabby Rivera is so damn thankful she was able to finish this book. She wants queer brown girls to see themselves everywhere and to be proud of who they are. Gabby was a nerdburger who always wrote in journals, on stray napkins, and even on her sneakers when it was cool to do that. She’s been published in anthologies and journals put together by other radical, creative folks who also see a world that strays far from the mythic norm. Gabby has worked with Autostraddle for almost five years. In that time, she’s written about feminism, kissing girls, Nicki Minaj, radical politics and falling in love with queer brown communities. She is currently the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN and is developing their National Student Council and curriculums for GSAs across the country. She’s fostered other LGBTQ youth groups and taught as a multi-media artist for organizations such as the DreamYard Project. She’s gonna write more books, y’all. Please read them. It’s very important. Be on the lookout for her latina punk band sci-fi epic, Supermoon. Coming some time in the distant but gorgeous future.

cristy-roadCristy C. Road is a Cuban-American artist, writer, and musician. Through visual art, storytelling, and punk rock music, C.Road has thrived to testify the beauty of the imperfect since she began creating art in her hometown of Miami, FL. She grew up as a self-taught figure drawing artist with a penchant for all things that questioned society and began publishing Green’Zine in 1997– a fanzine which was originally devoted to the punk rock group, Green Day. Merging with the anti-authoritarian intentions of the punk rock community, the zine transformed into a manifesto about being a queer Latina abuse survivor, and her journey towards self-acceptance. Her preferred visual art mediums are Micron Ink pens, Chartpak markers, acrylic paint, Gel Pens, white-out, (and sometimes Photoshop). While taking both writing and visual elements to a more serious level, her diagram of lifestyle and beliefs remain in tune to the Greenzine’s foundations.

C.Road graduated from the the Ringling School of Art and Design in 2004 with a BFA in Illustration, in order to support her ambition to eventually teach. Although, at a private art school in a red state, she was fairly infamous, as the punk feminist who changed her legal name to a Green Day song and spent most of her time protesting the representation of gender and race in art. Now, C.Road has almost 20 years of independent publishing under her belt, along with years of creating countless illustrations for a slew of magazines, record albums, event posters, and social justice organizations; as well as years of teaching through workshops, proffesorships, and lectures across the nation.

In early 2006, C.Road released her first illustrated novel, Indestructible (Microcosm Publishing), a 96-page narrative about high school. In 2008, she released Bad Habits (Soft Skull Press), an Illustrated story about healing from abuse; and lastly in 2013, her most recent book, Spit and Passion (Feminist Press, 2012), a coming-out memoir about Cuban identity, discovering Green Day, and survivng in the closet. C.Road’s most recent project is The Next World Tarot (2017), a 78-card tarot deck detailing themes of justice, resilience, accountability, and reclaimed magic; illustrated, written, and initially self-published by C.Road.

Aside from creating art; Road is a songwriter and guitarist, having fronted the pop-punk group, The Homewreckers from 2008-2016. She currently fronts Choked Up, a project that doesnt stray too far from the Homewrecker’s foundations, but proves a departure in style and bilingual lyrics.

Having organized entire tours for The Homewreckers, Road has been performing readings, workshops, and lectures since first touring with her art in 2005. She’s traveled nationally and internationally on her own, and namely with The Homewreckers, Sister Spit: The Next Generation (an all queer spoken word performance tour), and Race Riot! (A national tour hosted by The People of Color Zine Project). Cultivating a performance trajectory with a consistent show of defiance, she performs at bookstores, record stores, basements, bars, college campuses, and beyond. Some notable presentations have been held at The New Museum, The Latina Health Summit, Smash it Dead Fest, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, La Mama Theatre, Yale University, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Cristy C. Road is a Gemini Sun with a Moon in Cancer and lives in Brooklyn, NY

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.

Free to be Incredible Me

Written by: Joelle-Elizabeth Retener

Illustrated by: Connor DeHaan

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Expression, Gender Non-Conforming Youth, Acceptance, Family, Love, Social-Emotional Learning & Development. 

Summary: This book is SO cute!  It’s a quick read, the rhyming makes the pages turn quickly.  Manny returns from his first day of school pretty bummed, because he’s been teased for doing things “that boy’s shouldn’t do”.  Manny’s dad sees Manny’s heartache and sets about making sure Manny knows that boys can do anything.  They do their hair, have a dance party wearing bright colors, and try out different hairstyles.  Manny realizes that he can be himself and doesn’t have prove anything to anyone.  He can feel feelings, have confidence, and unlearn the negative thing society tries to push on young children in terms of gender expectations.

This book is so important.  Bookshelves are missing stories about young boys of color, and especially characters that are gender non-conforming.  Everyone needs to be seen, accepted, and loved for who they are.  Having these books that show parents and caregivers unabashedly celebrating who their children naturally are are CRUCIAL, we cannot overstate this.  This book shows how far we’ve come in the children’s literature world even in the last few years.  We do believe that other books with reticent parents have a place and are important, because that is a very real reaction that a lot of children face.  But it is just, if not even more, important that these are the books we’re reading to classrooms.  Check this book out and give it to everyone!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever been told you couldn’t do something just because of who you are?
  • How did that feel?
  • Did someone help you find solutions to this dilemma?
  • Who helped you feel better?
  • How can you help someone that was told they couldn’t do something when you hear it?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

jer2“Hi! I am Joelle-Elizabeth Retener (she/her), a first generation Haitian-American from the DC metro area. I’m a proud graduate of Spelman College and American University, where I studied Spanish and International Studies. In my past life, I was a US diplomat and traveled the world promoting and implementing US foreign policies. I’m now taking a shot at writing kidslit while homeschooling my littles. I am passionate about promoting diversity & inclusion, and fighting for gender equality.”  She works tirelessly to ensure that all gender expansive children’s voices are heard, and that they are free to enjoy the same rights, and opportunities as their peers.  We think she rocks!

ProfileConnor DeHaan is a multifaceted designer based in upstate New York. Design has become a lifestyle for myself and progression my fuel. While Connor is away from his home studio, you can find him either cooking up some delicious plates, hanging with the pooch, and when the earth freezes over, up on the hill making some turns.

For more information on his work, to get in touch regarding employment opportunities, or to just say hello, feel free to reach out.

 

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Written by: Sabina Khan

Cover Art by:

For ages: YA book

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Family, Marriage, Independence, Love, Acceptance, LGBTQ Violence, Homophobia, Bangladeshi Culture & Traditions.

Summary: I could NOT put this book down.  I was instantly hooked.  Warning: you will feel ALL the emotions during this read.

Rukhsana is a teenager, just a few months away from graduation.  Rukhsana’s parents are Bangladeshi, and very strict.  They have no idea that she is dating a white girl named Ariana.  Rukhsana’s parents in fact, would love to arrange a marriage for her but Rukhsana is able to secure a full ride to CalTech for physics and bide some time before that happens.  However, one day Ariana is over and Rukhsana’s mother catches them kissing.  All of a sudden, she is whisked away to Bangladesh to visit her “ailing grandmother”, but then ulterior motives are uncovered and Rukhsana is informed she is not allowed to leave the country until she agrees to a formal engagement with a suitable husband-to-be.  After a botched escape plan where Rukhsana’s passport hiding place is discovered and a tumultuous fight with Ariana over the phone, she feels alone and defeated.  Rukhsana is then informed she must be married before leaving the country, locked in a room, and a shaman is called to perform an exorcism of the bad spirit (jinn) that is making her act so disobedient.  Then Rukhsana meets someone named Sohail, a boy whose parents are pushing for him to get married.  But it turns out, he’s already dating someone…someone handsome that lives in the United States.  Sohail and Rukhsana hatch a plan to feign an engagement and then flee before the wedding where they will part ways and link back up with their partners.  Sohail is also a famous blogger, but he writes about what is wrong with Bangladesh and calls for reform-specifically with the anti-LGBT policies currently in place.  He has thousands of weekly readers but is also being followed by extremists known for violence.  When eating lunch together in a cafe, some thugs sit near the pair to intimidate Sohail.  He quickly wraps up lunch and they finish eating in his office, laughing off the incident.

When the day of the wedding ceremony comes, Rukhsana plans to sneak out of her family’s home into a taxi with her younger brother and go to the airport.  Sohail will do the same and they will catch the flight together.  When Rukhsana arrives, Sohail is late.  She waits as long as she can, but gets on the plane alone and makes the long trek back to America, where some friends pick her up and let her stay at their house.  When Rukhsana finally turns her phone back on, she has many missed calls and voicemails from her parents.  Thinking that they are angry at her for skipping out on the expensive wedding, she ignores them and takes a few days to attempt emotional healing from the extreme trauma and duress that she has just endured over the last few months stuck in Bangladesh.  Her friends sit her down, and tell her she needs to listen to the messages.  Sohail is dead.  On the way to the airport he is murdered viciously with a machete by the thugs, because he is gay.

I won’t spoil the ending, but just know that it will wrench your heart from the very depths inside your soul and be impossible to put down.  I was reading it through tears, enraptured at the emotional complexity of the characters, and the growth of Rukhsana throughout this life-changing endeavor that she found herself inextricably linked to, unable to escape.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sabina-profileSabina Khan is the author of THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI, a YA Contemporary, was released Spring 2019 from Scholastic. She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and three daughters, one of whom is a fur baby.