Tag Archives: self-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.

Jamie is Jamie

Written by: Afsaneh Moradian 

Illustrated by: Maria Bogade

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Expression, Gender Stereotypes, Identity, Friendship, Kindness, Self-Esteem.

Summary: This book is absolutely adorable!  Jamie has just moved, and is starting a new school. When they get to school and join in free play, Jamie moves about the classroom looking for new friends and fun activities.  Jamie is completely ungendered throughout the bookend when asked by other classmates if Jamie is a boy or girl, they answer “I’m Jamie!” The entire book is about how it truly doesn’t matter, any kid can like any activity and dress however they want.  Jamie is a good friend, and that’s what matters! The illustrations are diverse and fun, we really enjoyed seeing Jamie’s story come to life.

This was sent to us by the author for Children’s Multicultural Book Day to review, but all opinions are our own!  We believe along with Afsaneh that children shouldn’t be strongly stereotyped, and gender neutral activities are the way to go in a classroom.  This means that an educator allows and promotes every activity to every child equally, based on what that child is interested in.  We really loved this book and were so glad to be paired with Afsaneh for the event!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7 th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.  Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

AfsanehMoradianWe are excited to learn more about Afsaneh Moradian, author of the book!  Here is her “about me” section from her website:

“I grew up between Washington, D.C., northern NJ, and New York City. I spent my childhood reading, writing, singing and watching tv.

After college, I started working at a Montessori preschool and my career as an educator began. I went on to get a Master’s in Education and am in the process of finishing a PhD in Education.

For more than 15 years, I have had an amazing time combining my love of writing and creativity with teaching students of all ages (from preschool to graduate school) in a variety of educational levels and settings between the United States and Mexico.

I love sharing my ideas with students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and anyone who will listen.

I write children’s books, poetry, short stories, essays and articles, in addition to writing about education.”

maria-bogade-web-1Maria Bogade is an illustrator and author with an animation background. She loves creating illustrations with a strong narrative, colorful and beautifully composed to entertain children and adults alike. Her work is internationally published and is also found on greeting cards and products such as chocolate. With her three children and spouse, she lives in a tiny village in southern Germany where fox and hare bid each other good night (we don’t know what this means, but it sounds lovely!).

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Written by: Stacy McAnulty

Cover Art by: We can’t find this, if you know-let us know!!

For ages: YA Book-middle grades

Language: English

Topics Covered: Middle School, Neurodivergence, OCD, Friendship, Fitting In, Self-Acceptance, STEM, Synesthesia, Social-Emotional Learning & Development. 

Summary: This book was great!  Lucy Callahan got struck by lightning, and because of this gained extraordinary mathematical abilities, as well as synesthesia and OCD.  After being homeschooled by her grandmother, she is thrust into the 7th grade at a local public school despite having taken both high school and college courses.  Lucy has a plethora of online friends on math forums and they are her only interactions.  She rarely leaves the house, and has severe germ anxieties.  Her grandmother makes her a deal-1 year, 1 book, 1 friend, and Lucy can go to college.

Lucy starts school, navigating being the new kid and having her compulsive habits publicly acknowledged by classmates.  This book, which we won’t give too much away, is about self-discovery, patience, and friendship.  Lucy may be a genius, but she has some trouble relating to others.  Luckily a service project, animal shelter, and a couple friends come along and help Lucy realize that maybe being out in the world, and seventh grade, aren’t so bad after all.

About the Author:

stacy mcanultyStacy McAnulty is a children’s book author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, who’s also qualified to be a dog therapist (is that a thing???), a correspondent for The Daily Show (why not), and a Green Bay Packer coach (totally!). She has written dozens of books including her debut middle-grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl , a Junior Library Guild Selection, and the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor book Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Her other picture books include Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, illustrated by David Litchfield; Max Explains Everything: Grocery Store Expert, illustrated by Deborah Hocking, Brave and Beautiful, both illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, illustrated by Edward Hemingway; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. She’s also authored the chapter book series Goldie Blox, based on the award-winning toys, and The Dino Files. When not writing, Stacy likes to listen to NPR, bake triple-chocolate cupcakes, and eat triple-chocolate cupcakes. Originally from upstate NY, she now lives in Kernersville, NC with her 3 kids, 3 dogs, and 1 husband.

 

Deadendia: The Broken Halo [released 10/17]

Written & Illustrated by: Hamish Steele

For ages: YA middle & upper grades (2 vaguely implied sexual situations)

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Neurodivergent Characters, LGBTQ, Supernatural, Friendship, Graphic Novels, Adventure, Love, Family, Acceptance. 

Summary: This graphic novel is the next installment in the series!  We were sent this book by the publisher, Flying Eye Books, (Nobrow in the UK) but all opinions are our own.

We really liked this book, and the diverse cast of characters can’t be beat.  Norma is an autistic POC queer character, Barney is trans, and Badyah is Muslim.  Besides this badass trio, there are a range of demons and angels all vying for control of the 7th neutral plane also known as earth.  Because of previous events, Norma’s soul won’t stay in her body when she’s surprised.  This is both helpful and aggravating as tensions mount between demons and angels.  Barney is hiding a secret career from his boyfriend though, but it’s very lucrative. Norma and Badyah along with some demons are working overtime at the Dead End, a haunted house during the day and demon B&B at night.  We don’t want to give too much about this graphic novel away, but it’s incredible and Corrie had to start reading it right away! It would be helpful to read the first volume before this one, but not necessary.  There are a lot of references to past events but enough context to provide the reader of this volume backstory.  We can’t wait to see what happens next, it’s an amazing series with awesome representation!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Screen-Shot-2018-01-01-at-21.35.01_3_400From the website of Hamish: My name is Hamish Ridley-Steele and I’m a Animation Director and Comic-Book artist from London. Soon after graduating, I directed Dead End, a short for Frederator Studio’s Cartoon Hangover. This lead to me directing two films for Nickelodeon’s International Shorts program, the second of which I collaborated on with Blink Industrieswho now represent me.

In 2014, I self-published my first graphic novel Pantheon thanks to Kickstarter. Since then, it has been republished by Nobrow Press. This year, they will also publish my webcomic DeadEndia which is based on that first Cartoon Hangover short.  I really like crocodiles. My dream is to meet one.

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.

 

Tutus Aren’t My Style

Written by: Linda Skeers

Illustrated by: Anne Wilsdorf

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Tomboys, Exploration, Open-Mindedness, Family, Love, Acceptance.

Summary: This book is super cute!  The main character Emma loves playing in the mud, lizards, and climbing trees.  One day, she gets a package from her uncle!  Inside is a tutu and complete ballerina outfit.  Confused, she asks those around her how to be a ballerina.  Some say she must jump a twirl, be delicate and float, and make music.  Instead, all Emma can do is make burping noises and fall over.  Emma decides that maybe she can make her own music and dance moves, instead of take advice from others.  What happens is a routine totally unique to Emma and her life.  She shows this routine to her uncle who surprises her with a visit, and he is very impressed.  He says he never pictured her as a ballerina, which is why he sent her a safari outfit!  The two of them investigate the package he sent, and it turns out the company sent Emma the wrong costume!

This is a sweet story, and a quick read.  Emma is open-minded about trying something she never really considered was for her, and it’s clear her uncle knows her well and supports what she loves.  This is a great book for that lovable tomboy in your life, or to help children be open to a variety of activities.

Reflection Questions:

  • Emma’s uncle seems to know her pretty well. Who knows you the best in your family?
  • Have you ever tried ballet?
  • What did you think about it?
  • Do you think a specific type of person does ballet? Why or why not?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Skeers_Linda-002_d200Linda Skeers is the author of this book!  Here is her author statement from her website:

I realized the power of the written word before I learned to read. Words were all around me – in books, on signs, TV and cereal boxes. I had high hopes on my first day of kindergarten – finally I would learn to read! We colored. We napped on rugs. Ate graham crackers. Finger painted. Then it was time to go home. We had NOT learned to read and I made my displeasure known – loudly! It earned me a Time Out behind the painting easel.
 Thank goodness for Mrs. O’Connor in first grade. I remember the sheer joy of reading the sentence, “Run, Dick, run.”
 I wrote my first book when I was about 9.
 As a child, I went to the library every Saturday morning. One week I’d check out a stack of books about pioneers, the next week it might be UFOs or ghost stories. Or football. Or mysteries. Or snakes. Or poetry. I still read every night and always have a huge pile of books next to my bed. And in the living room. And the sunroom…
When I wasn’t reading, I was outside exploring the woods, building forts, riding my bike, catching frogs, or playing kickball with the neighbor kids.
 I didn’t think of writing as a career when I was younger. I was encouraged to do something practical like be a nurse or teacher. I always liked helping people so I became a nurse and worked in a hospital and a doctor’s office. But I never forgot how much I loved reading and writing.
Too bad there’s no cure for a bad perm!
After I grew up and got married, my husband and I went camping almost every weekend. Here we are at Backbone State Park – our favorite place!
anne wilsdorfAuthor and illustrator Anne Wilsdorf was born to Alsatian parents in Saint-Paul de Luanda, Angola, in 1954. After a childhood and adolescence spent living in many countries (Angola, Congo, Argentina, Morocco, France, and Belgium), she settled in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1976. There, she began publishing her drawings in newspapers and children¹s publications, followed by her first books. She has continued this path ever since, working with publishers in Switzerland, France, Germany and the United States. Her books, numbering more than twenty, have been translated into numerous languages, most recently into Korean.

Anne Wilsdorf was the Swiss candidate for the prestigious Andersen prize in 2000. Complementing her work as an illustrator.  Anne Wilsdorf has illustrated over 20 books for children, including the Ezra Jack Keats honor book, Sophie’s Squash. Anne currently teaches illustration at l’Ecole Romande des Arts de la Communication in Lousanne.