An Origin Story

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 raisethemrighteous@gmail.com.

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 raisethemrighteous@gmail.com.

How to use the blog: Scroll down, discover great books, buy the books, read the books!

ChLA 2019

2019 Logo

I am recuperating from a 5 night adventure. I flew to Indianapolis on June 12 for ChLA’s 2019 conference where I presented my work about LGBTQ children’s non-fiction picture books. There are only a handful of children’s picture books that explore aspects of LGBTQ history and I discussed their transformative potential and limitations during my presentation: LGBTQ Children’s Picture Books Now: Between the Past and the Future.

pres

If we build a rich archive of children’s nonfiction that centers diverse experiences of differently classed, raced, and gendered subjects we might just begin to create the type of critical consciousness needed to take account of various modes of oppression that work in tandem. We might also be able to imagine becoming queer as a project in empathy and understanding that forces us to rethink attachments to oppressive ideas, identities, and institutions that reproduce oppression, indignity, and injustice for a newly conceptualized all of us.

flight

I was only there a couple of days before flying to Saratoga Springs, NY to participate in a workshop for an open access Introduction to LGBTQ Studies textbook project I’m contributing to. I’m writing chapters about queer theory and LGBTQ children’s picture books. I’m so excited about this project because it will make information about two of my favorite topics available to students for FREE! It was wonderful to talk with folks who love all things queer! But, it was a lot of flying!

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Barry Wittenstein’s Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sony Rollins Finds His Groove

Barry Wittenstein’s Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove (2019) takes readers on a stroll through New York City that begins at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. The picture book manages to be both intimate and expansive. Although a biography of jazz great Sonny Rollins, his story is deeply contextualized within cultural and political history. Keith Mallett’s illustrations capture mood and motion, each a work of art that brings the story to life. Continue reading

Queer Theory: Resistance

Screenshot_2019-06-04 Queer TheoryThis post is a bit different from my usual reviews of children’s literature. It’s my second year writing an annual review article about important new work in queer theory for Oxford Press’s The Year in Critical and Cultural Theory. I focused my  review of 2018 publications on RESISTANCE. You can check it out here.

 

Karleen Pendleton Jimenez’s Are You A Boy or a Girl? (2000)

Are You A Boy or a Girl? (2000) by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez is a Lambda Literary Award 2001 Finalist that was adapted into the film Tomboy in 2008.

It is often thought that boyish girls have it easier than girlish boys. In fact, the idea that girls can more easily wear clothes and play with toys associated with boys is often used to diminish the challenges of being a tomboy. This book illustrates the policing of gender and hurt it causes. Continue reading

Sophie Labelle’s A Girl Like Any Other (2013)

A Girl Like Any Other

Like most children’s picture books that feature transgender children, Sophie Labelle’s 2013 publication, A Girl Like Any Other, was self-published with the help of crowdfunding. Readers are introduced to a quirky young girl who shares what it is like being transgender in this first-person-narrative which is sure to reflect many young children’s experiences. Continue reading