Tag Archives: transgender youth

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.

The Love-Alphabet Rockers

Featured Artists and Guest Artists:

Alphabet Rockers - HighRes Photo by NinoFernandez
Photo by Nino Fernandez

Over 60 guest artists join the Alphabet Rockers co-founders, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. Voices from our next generation — Lillian Ellis, Maya Fleming, Kali de Jesus and Tommy “T3PO” Shepherd III, as well as 123 Andrés, Angel & Koja Adeyoha, Aris Wong, Ashanti Branch, Billy Dean Thomas, Celestina Pearl and Esperanza Carter-Pearl, Genevieve Goings, H. Daniel Mujahid, Harlow Carpenter, Honey Mahogany, Jennifer Johns, Juan “Wonway Posibul” Amador, Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods, KARLON, Kiran Nagraj, Lucy Kalantari, M. Zamora, MADLines, Mahawam, Malachi Garza, mariposa & AmihanCh’íníbaa’, Michelle “CHELLE” Jacques, Mike McCann, Nizhoni & Pálxcqíwn Ellenwood, Okee Dokee Brothers, Rei Matsuno, Rhonda Crane, RyanNicole, Samara Atkins, SaulPaul, Shaina Evoniuk, The Singing Bois, Sólás B. Lalgee, Yaw, Yiann, Zumbi Zoom.

For ages: Humans of all ages can groove to these beats!
redesigned-milikan-ohlonemap
Image via Kanyon Konsulting LLC

Language: Primarily English and Spanish, but features many other languages in songs such as This is Ohlone Land which acknowledges the variety of indigenous groups and languages of Oakland, CA, where the album was recorded.

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Non-Binary Identity, Transgender Activism, Radical Joy, Self-Love, Cultural Consciousness and Pride, Self-Expression, Respect for All, Survival, Black Gxrl Magic, Ancestral Power and Healing, Strength, and Truth.

 

Summary:

It is impossible to sit silent and still when listening

to the Alphabet Rocker’s album The Love.

The album begins with a respectful acknowledgement of the land on which it was recorded, setting the stage for the thoughtful and transformational nature of the album.  Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd cover a wide range of topics artfully and powerfully.  In other hands and different voices the album could be heavy-handed and preachy, but by allowing the guest artists featured on the album to speak their truth, McGaw and Shepherd spread the love and recognition across the board.

ruth azul
Art by Ruth Azul

The Love is joyful, realistic but also hopeful, which can be an extremely challenging balance to strike-and they do it expertly.  The music and lyrics recognize the struggle and work of past generations and queer people of color from the far reaches of history like Hatshepsut to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, founders of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries as well as today’s activists like two-spirit Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas.

sharice
(R-KS) Sharice Davids

The album’s lyrics could easily parrot the “everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “life is suffering” binary found in many narratives.  Instead, the artists both acknowledge the injustice heaped upon marginalized groups and create a sense of hope that emanates from songs like “Black Gxrl Magic.”  This faith in the promise of the future is fired up by “the next generation” of voices, empowered young people who speak their mind clearly and energetically.

We loved the small photos with pronouns of all the other artists featured on the album!  It allowed us to get to know each artist as an individual, and provided a visual reference for the wide range of personalities, identities and cultures represented in the fantastic music. The explicit celebration of the many intersections of queerness and cultural identity is refreshing and radical, as so many queer narratives are whitewashed and simplified to appeal to a larger audience. The Alphabet Rockers recognize the truth of the windows and mirrors approach that we reference here at the Tiny Activist; that honoring the distinct identities of people who are not like you creates more space for everyone.

gender-wheel-poster-web
The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez

One feature of the album that we particularly enjoyed were the interludes, especially They/Them, where each speaker introduces themselves with their pronouns.  It was powerful recognizing that children are able to grasp and see the importance this practice, especially when so many adults can’t be bothered to do the same. It gives us great hope that the next generation will be more open and accepting from a young age.The interludes create a space for dialogue, and they echo the practice found in other hip-hop albums, presenting more voices and personalities to be heard (both literally and figuratively).

Thinking in terms of incorporating this album in a class or community space, the short interludes allow for breaks and group discussion. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex in their understanding of culture and intersectionality, but easy to follow along with. The language is accessible and the lyrics are nuanced, subverting the tradition of simplifying concepts and wording in music produced for children.

The songs in this album went by so quickly, and it hardly seemed like 17 tracks! The Love should be in every classroom, so bring on the social justice dance parties!

About the Artists:

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

ALPHABET ROCKERS make music that makes change. Led by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him), they create brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke has reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their latest album, The Love (2019) lifts up voices of our trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming community.

With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival (Oakland) and Kidchella (Philadelphia), and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were Izzy Award Winners in 2018, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017 and 2018, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Alphabet Rockers appeal to a broad audience with lyrics like “I will stand up for you” and “I shine in my beautiful skin,” landing them in the top 5 songs of 2018 on Kids Place Live SiriusXM Radio. Their music, videos, concerts and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents and young people of all genders.

YOU KNOW I GOT YOU, SO GET ME!

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.

Jack (not Jackie)

Written by: Erica Silverman

Illustrated by: Holly Hatam

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, Acceptance, Trans Experience, Transgender Youth.

Summary: Big sister Susan loves her little sibling Jackie, more than anything.  Susan loves making Jackie giggle, and dreams about all of the fun things they’ll do together growing up.  When Jackie becomes a little older, the two children couldn’t be more different.  Jackie loves superheroes, mud puddle jumping, and running around.  Jackie cries when dresses are given as presents, and Susan gets upset when Jackie wants to wear a necktie.  The children’s mother gently reminds that “we wear what feels right” and doesn’t shame either child.  One day, the family goes to the park and Jackie makes a new friend.  When parting ways awhile later the child calls out “bye Jack!” and Susan questions this.  Jackie gets very upset and starts yelling, and everybody walks home quietly.  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.  She begins to feel better, thinking “it’s ok, either way”.  Susan opens the tent to find Jack, and they begin to play.  The book ends almost the same the way it began, by stating that Susan’s brother Jack has the best giggle.

This book is great for young children, to explain the idea of transgender.  This term is not used within the book, it is mores to introduce young children to the idea that a person can express themselves how they wish.  There’s an emphasis on family acceptance and love, with Jack’s parents being supportive from the beginning.  Depending on the child’s level of knowledge about the trans experience, this book would be good for elementary school aged children although Jack is fairly young when he begins to socially transition.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you like to do the things Susan does, or Jack?  Maybe a combination of both?
  • Why do you think it was important for Jack to make his family understand he didn’t like being seen as a girl?
  • Why do you think Susan decides it’s ok to have either a brother or a sister?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • What makes you feel most like yourself?  Draw a picture of you where you feel most comfortable, maybe it’s in the woods wearing a dance costume, or on top of a slide with a baseball glove.  Everyone deserves to feel comfortable with themselves, and that begins with allowing everyone to like and play with what they like.
  • Everyone is different.  Some people were born in the wrong body, and some were born in the right one.  What matters is that we accept others.  What can you do as a class that will let people who come into your classroom know that they are safe to express themselves?  Consider making a poster, writing a letter, or inviting other classrooms to do this activity with you to make your school a safe space for everyone.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

erica silvermanErica Silverman is the author of several books including Big Pumpkin; When the Chickens Went on Strike, which was a Sydney Taylor Honor book; and Sholom’s Treasure, which won the Sydney Taylor Award and was a runner-up for the National Jewish Book Award. Her books have received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, the California Young Reader Medal, ABA Pick of the List, and the first book in her early-reader series Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa won the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor. She lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit her at www.ericasilverman.com.

holly hatamHolly Hatam’s a girl that sometimes wears something pink and sparkly and sometimes dons capes and fights dragons. Some days she’s moody, but other days she shakes her booty. Some days her heart may seek wild adventures, but other days she just wants to be a couch potato. She is a picture book maker, greeting card designer, and a textile engineer. She is also the #1 New York Times Bestselling illustrator of Dear Girl. Her other books include, What Matters, Tree Song, Maxine the Maker, Jack (Not Jackie) and The Acadia Files. Holly lives in Whitby, Ontario with her weird husband and even weirder son. But that’s ok, because weird is a side effect of awesome.