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  • Karen Mcphail

Diverse Books for Children

We want everyone in life to be able to live authentically and feel good about who they are! Educating and supporting our youth is an important step in this process! Here is a terrific list of children books for reference and education along the way!

Younger Children / Elementary level:

It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity

Hardcover – May 14, 2019, Theresa Thorn (Author), Noah Grigni (Illustrator).

A picture book that introduces the concept of gender identity to the youngest reader from writer Theresa Thorn and illustrator Noah Grigni. Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between. This sweet, yet straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. With child-friendly language and vibrant art, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity.

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo (Better Bundo Book, LGBT Children’s Book) Hardcover – March 18, 2018, by Jill Twiss (Author), Marlon Bundo (Author), EG (Gerald Kelley) Keller (Illustrator). HBO's Emmy-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents a children's picture book about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny.

Annie’s Plaid Shirt. Stacy B. Davids. (K – 1) Annie’s mom tells her that she must wear a dress to her uncle's wedding. Annie protests, but her mom buys her a fancy new dress anyway. Annie is miserable. Why can't her mom understand? Then, Annie has an idea. But will her mom agree?

Bunnybear. Andrea J. Loney. (Pre-K – 1) Although Bunnybear was born a bear, he feels more like a bunny. The other bears don't understand him, and neither do the bunnies. Will Bunnybear ever find a friend who likes him just the way he is?

The Boy & the Bindi. Vivek Shraya. (Pre-K – 2) A five-year-old South Asian boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees, giving him permission to be more fully himself.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea. Kai Cheng Thom and Kai Yun Ching. (Pre-K – 1) Miu Lan can change into any shape they can imagine. A boy or a girl? A bird or a fish? A flower or a shooting star? At school, they must endure inquisitive looks and difficult questions. But one thing's for sure: no matter what this child becomes, their mother will love them just the same.

A House for Everyone: A Story to Help Children Learn about Gender Identity and Gender Expression. Jo Hirst. (Pre-K – 2) At lunchtime, all of Tom's friends gather at school to work together building their house. Each one of them has a special job to do, and each one of them has a different way of expressing their gender identity.

I am Jazz. Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. (K – 5) From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. Based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings.

Introducing Teddy: A gentle story about gender and friendship. Jess Walton. (Pre-K – K) Introduces the youngest readers to understanding gender identity and transition in an accessible and heart-warming story about being true to yourself and being a good friend.

Jacob’s New Dress. Sarah and Ian Hoffman. (Pre-K – 2) Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can't wear "girl" clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? Speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don't identify with traditional gender roles.

Julián Is a Mermaid. Jessica Love. (Pre-K – 2) While in the subway with his abuela. Julián sees three women spectacularly dressed up and he wants to dress up just like them. But what will his Abuela think? A story about the power of been seen and affirmed.

Neither. Airlie Anderson. (Pre-K – 1) In the Land of This and That, there are only two kinds: blue bunnies and yellow birds. But one day a funny green egg hatches, and a little creature that's not quite a bird and not quite a bunny pops out. It's neither! When not accepted in the Land of This and That, Neither searches and finds a place where all are welcome.

One of a Kind, Like Me / Unico Como Yo. Laurin Mayeno. (Pre-K – 1) Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess. A sweet story about unconditional love and the beauty of individuality.

Red: A Crayon's Story. Michael Hall. (Pre-K – 1) A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as "red" suffers an identity crisis. Almost everyone tries to “help” him be red until a friend offers a new perspective. He’s blue! About finding the courage to be true to your inner self. This can be read on multiple levels.

Sparkle Boy. Lesléa Newman. (K – 2) Casey loves to play with his blocks and dump truck, but he also loves things that sparkle and glitter. A story about acceptance, respect, and the freedom to be yourself in a world where any gender expression should be celebrated.

They, She, He, Me: Free to Be! Maya and Matthew Smith-Gonzalez (Pre-K – 5) Offers a playful narrative about pronouns, inviting kids to know themselves inside and out, claim the pronouns that express the spirit of who they are and respect that in others. Includes further discussion for the adults.

Middle School Selections:

Better Nate Than Ever. Tim Federle. Nate plans an overnight escape to New York for an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, knowing this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom. Also: Five, Six, Seven, Nate! and Nate Expectations.(4 – 8)

Felix Yz. Lisa Bunker. (5 – 8) When Felix Yz was three he is accidentally fused with a fourth-dimensional being. Now he’s on the brink of a risky procedure that will free him. With an awkward crush on a boy at school, a gender fluid grandparent and a Bi mom, family, bullying and identity are woven into the story.

George. Alex Gino. (3 – 6) When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. George really wants to play Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Will she be able to?

Gracefully Grayson. Ami Polonsky. (5 – 7) Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson?

Lizard Radio. Pat Schmatz. (5 and up) In a futuristic society, Kivali is a Bender - not quite boy or girl. Sent to CropCamp, a commune meant to steer teens toward a lifetime of good citizenship and “proper” gender roles, Kivali, called Lizard, wrestles with friendship, love, and the price of being true to oneself.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, Book 2. Rick Riordan (4 – 8) Thor's hammer has fallen into enemy hands. Magnus teams up with Alex Fierro a gender fluid formerly homeless teen to retrieve the hammer quickly, so the mortal worlds will not be defenseless against an onslaught of giants.

Not Your Sidekick. C.B. Lee. (5 – 8) Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. On the upside, Jessica gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby. With a sudden and dangerous turn, she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether. Also see: Not Your Villain.

The Pants Project. Cat Clarke (3 – 6) Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy but he hasn’t told anyone – even his two moms yet. Now, his new school has a terrible dress code, he can't even wear pants. Only skirts. The only way for Liv to get what he wants is to go after it himself. But to Liv, this isn't just a mission to change the policy―it's a mission to change his life.

Riding Freedom. Pam Muñoz Ryan. (4 – 6) A fictionalized account of the true story of Charley (Charlotte) Parkhurst who ran away from an orphanage, lived as a boy, moved to California, and became a stagecoach driver.

Roller Girl. Victoria Jamieson. (4 – 7) An inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverance, and girl power! And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. Graphic novel.

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