Tag Archives: gender expression

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Curriculum Review: “Choose Your Own Likes” Talking About Stereotypes

Hey all!  We got the opportunity this week to review some curriculum by Jamey Fisher Perkins, which is all about stereotypes! This month’s curriculum is part of her wider “Growing Towards Justice” curriculum set.  We were given a copy of this curriculum to review free of charge, but all opinions are our own. 

The 12 page curriculum covers 6 topics: What’s a Stereotype?; What I Am Like; Free to be Me; There’s No Accounting for Taste: Standing Up for What You Like; Practicing Shifting from the General to the Specific; and Unconscious Gender Bias. We think this is a well-rounded way to look at things, and each topic is specific enough to give an in-depth look at these topics without being overwhelming.  

jacob's new dress
4 of the 6 topics listed above have corresponding activities to do with kids!  They range from poems, art projects, new ideas like being non-binary (we’re SO excited this was included!) and conversation starters.  This wide range ensures that there is something that fits with various likes and dislikes in an activity.  

Although each topic and most activities have specific resources attached to them, there is a master list compiled at the end of the curriculum.  21 children’s books, some music and poetry links, and a list of adult reading material resources for caregivers make up that list.  Having these compiled with the activist and again at the bottom is very helpful, especially for someone who would want to check out the whole stack from the library.  It’s easily copied from the bottom of the curriculum, and the hyperlinks for songs and further readings for caregivers save a lot of time!pronoun-poster-download-image-copyright-maya-gonzalez-800px

Then entire curriculum is written in a very friendly manner!  Some curriculum we have read remains boring, dry, and inaccessible if the reader is unfamiliar with academic language.  This curriculum is decidedly not like that.  We would recommend this curriculum for anyone looking to begin to dismantle the implicit biases that society, school, and the media imparts on everyone beginning in utero!  

We are very much lucky to have been offered a discount code from Jamey if you’re interested in purchasing the annual curriculum subscription and on the Raising Feminist Boys e-course.  That code is: TINY!

Check out Jamey’s work, and let us know what you learn!


Stay Connected with Jamey:

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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!

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Written & Illustrated by: Jen Wang

For ages: Young Adults and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Expression, Growing Up, Love, Family, Acceptance, Friendship.

Summary: Prince Sebastian doesn’t particularly want to get married, but his parents are desperate for him to find a mate.  All Sebastian really wants to do is blow off steam and wear fabulous dresses as a disguise while out on the town.  He comes across Frances, a talented young seamstress and hires her to live in the castle and create one of a kind looks for him.  Frances begins to accompany him out on the town and the pair become best friends.  Frances is only one of two people that know the prince likes to wear dresses.  When the prince’s alter-ego Lady Crystallina begins to be recognized, and her fashions desired, the two reach an impasse because Frances getting recognized as the creator of these dresses could also mean the cover is blown for Sebastian.  This is a fabulous graphic novel about friendship, acceptance, and personal expression.  Definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys fashion design, or who wears anything unique and might get teased for it.

Reflection Questions:

  • How would you feel if you were Frances in the story, not being recognized for her work?
  • How do you think Sebastian feels, not being able to let people know his “secret”?
  • Who are the people in your life that you trust with your secrets?
  • How are you a good friend when someone tells you a secret?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Design your own perfect outfit-what makes you feel most comfortable?  Sebastian liked wearing pants and shirts as much as he liked wearing fancy dresses, and you can too!  But what matters most is that you’re dressing the way that makes you feel most comfortable.
  • Draw your own comic!  The land that Frances and Sebastian live in is fictitious, you can imagine a new place or write about one that already exists!
  • Think about what it means to be a good friend.  What is important to you in a friend, and how can you embody those characteristics for your friends as well? If it’s helpful, you can make a list or collaborate with someone.

About the Author & Illustrator:

2477793-jen_wangJen Wang is a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator based in Los Angeles. Jen is also a co-founder and organizer for Los Angeles based comics festival Comic Arts LA.