Written by: Brook Pessin-Whedbee
Illustrated by: Naomi Bardoff
For Ages: 3 years and above
Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Self Expression, Acceptance.
Summary: This book is written in a conversational format with the reader, letting them know that whatever they like and however they feel is ok and even celebrated! The reader has some terminology explained to them-such as sex assigned at birth, and the fact that gender is “much more than the body you were born with”. More vocabulary covered are terms like cisgender, non-binary, two-spirit, and gender neutral. The book introduces the idea of gender as a spectrum rather that the binary system of “boy” one one end and “girl” on the other. The reader is given the opportunity to look at pages filled with options of toys and clothes to choose the ones they like to wear and play with. The book then explains that things a person likes can change from when you’re a kid to an adult, or even the next day! There is emphasis on the reader knowing themselves the best, because they know how they feel inside. This is a beautiful reinforcement of the message, and because sometimes children’s feelings are discounted or told “it’s just a phase” that they’re going through. The book ends by explaining there are lots of ways to be a boy, a girl, and a kid, and the reader should be who they are. In the back of the book there is also a Guide for Grown-Ups with several book and song recommendations for further exploration, and a page by page guide to key concepts and discussion points. There are example reflection questions and more information to point out on topics such as: Body, Expression, Identity, and Gender Diversity. There are a myriad of additional resources that range from books to films to organizations individuals can work with. Lastly, there is an interactive wheel broken into three categories of body, identity, and expression. An individual can turn the wheel and look at different options in an effort to help define their personal identity.
- What do you like to tell people about yourself, what is important that people know about you?
- What do you feel most comfortable wearing and playing with?
- Do you think anyone can play with anything they want?
- How can you show respect to someone that likes different things than you do?
Continuing the Conversation:
- This book has an amazing resource section, including lessons for varying ages. They are on page 24!
- Have a Special Share Day, where everyone brings in something that’s important to them. The object could be a book that a loved one reads with them, an article of clothing that makes them feel comfortable, or a photograph.
- Learn about kids that are changing the world! Find a role model that believes in equality, or does work to help immigrants in our country. Maybe there is a new hero to look up to that lives in your community that could come visit and talk about how they live their lives and work to help people.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Brook Pessin-Whedbee is an educator, family advocate, and author of the new book, Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity. She is the founder of the Gender Inclusive Schools Alliance in Berkeley, where she works as an elementary Reading Specialist and as a supervisor in UC Berkeley’s Developmental Teacher Education program. Brook is also an active member of the Gender Spectrum community and proud mama to three little ones who joyfully bend and break the gender boxes.
Naomi Bardoff lives, works, blogs, and draws in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in Oakland, Naomi considers herself a Bay Area native despite a hiatus in Dallas for adolescence and one in the Hudson Valley for college. Other than drawing, painting, (and otherwise getting pigment under her fingernails), Naomi spends her time making handmade books, experimenting with vegan baking, thinking about manatees, and hanging out with her dog. Visit her portfolio, blog, and Instagram to see more of her illustration work.