My name is Jennifer and I’m a 30-something with a doctorate in Cultural Studies and a MA in Literary Studies. I also have a toddler. I didn’t give children’s picture books much thought until I was pregnant; until then my research focused on “grown-up” culture: films, literature, even pornography. But, as a Lefty mama with a PhD I understood the role cultural texts, like picture books, play in shaping how we perceive ourselves, the world, and all the people in it (and the animals, environments, ideas, ext.). I wanted the hours a week I knew we’d spend reading to help my child understand the most important lesson I think a parent can teach – you are good if you do good.
This blog reviews some of our favorite children’s books. I hope it helps other parents find awesome books! Feel free to email recommendations, comments, and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Publishers and Authors: I review diverse, LGBTQ* inclusive, and social justice themed children’s picture books, early chapter books, middle grade books, and young adult books. I prefer hard copies (especially for children’s picture books and graphic novels). But, I understand the cost can be prohibitive and accept E-books. *It is currently taking me 4 – 6 weeks to review picture books and 8 – 12 weeks to review MG and YA. Email me with requests at email@example.com.
How to use the blog: Scroll down, discover great books, buy the books, read the books!
Here’s a list of books I’ve reviewed about kids who reject gender norms. Check out the reviews and commit to adding one to your personal or school library!!
I’m reviewing LGBTQ# inclusive children’s picture books at RaiseThemRighteous.
If you are an author/publisher (traditional/indie/self-published) contact me for a review and to learn more about my book project!
This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!
Jack (Not Jackie) (2018), written by Erica Silverman and illustrated by Holly Hatam, adds an important perspective to the existing archive of children’s picture books about transgender and gender creative kids. This thoughtfully told and cheerfully illustrated tale is narrated from the point-of-view of a girl experiencing her transgender younger brother come into his identity. In an article for Watermark Online, Ryan Williams-Jent, writes: “It’s the second picture book in a partnership between GLAAD—the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization—and Bonnier Publishing USA, which publishes over 150 books annually. The collaboration aims to integrate and elevate positive LGBTQ representation throughout children’s literature by releasing at least four titles annually.” Continue reading
Under My Hijab, written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel, is a celebratory picture book that highlights the diversity of Muslim women and girls. The story unfolds from the point-of-view of a pre-adolescent girl who does not often wear a hijab, likely due to her age. The reader is introduced to women in her world who do wear a hijab, all of whom the narrator admires. Continue reading
Are You a Boy or a Girl? (2015), co-written by Sarah Savage and Fox Fisher, who is also the picture book’s illustrator, is the story of nonbinary Tiny. Tiny and their family, who are illustrated with various skin-tones, move to a new home where no one knows Tiny. They experience bullying at their new school, but that’s not the whole story. Continue reading
They She He Me: Free to Be (2017), by Maya and Matthew Smith-Gonzalez, is a celebration of diversity in its many forms. People with different boy-types, skin-tones, and gender expressions are thoughtfully illustrated above a variety of pronouns that are repeated across the two-page spread. The text suggests that gender is not written on the body but is instead a personal identity that can change over time. It seeks to uncouple gender from the body while simultaneously troubling a gender binary. The creators provide lots of useful backmatter that explains gender, pronouns, and the importance of inclusivity. I think this is a lovely teaching aid that will encourage discussions about the social and personal dimensions of gender for all ages. Continue reading
Square Zair Pair (2015), written by Jase Peeples and illustrated by Christine Knopp, is a quirky picture book reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. The story takes place in Hanamandoo, a fantasy world inhabited by Zairs. Zairs hatch from eggs that grow from vines. Some are tall and square; others are short and round. Round and square Zairs always form a pair by attaching tails. Continue reading
Muhammad Ali, written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Brosmind is an inspiring addition to Frances Lincoln Children’s Books’ Little People, BIG DREAMS series. The short and accessible biography takes readers on a fast-paced and informative journey into the life of famous boxer Muhammad Ali. In addition to his boxing fame, the board book acknowledges Ali’s civil rights activism, conversion to Islam, refusal to fight in Vietnam, and post-retirement charity work. Like other books in the series, Muhammad Ali, provides enough detail to be engaging without overwhelming its young audience. I recommend this book for children between 2- and 5-years-old. This will make a valuable addition to personal and school libraries.