When Kayla was Kyle (2013), written by Amy Fabrikant and illustrated by Jennifer Levine, is a thoughtful book about an unhappy transgender child who bravely confides her gender identity to her parents and begins to transition.
At the start of the book, Kayla’s father polices her gender by pressuring her to play basketball with boys even though she is clearly uncomfortable with masculine gender expression. Although her mother is loving she does not understand what Kayla is experiencing and is unable to support her. Continue reading
In Our Mother’s House (2009) by Patricia Polacco is the story of two women who love each other and the family they create together. It’s told in the first-person by one of the couple’s three adopted children who nostalgically recollects her childhood. Polacco’s illustrations are thick with detail, and thoughtfully depict the snapshots of family life narrated. There is no plot, and other than a grumpy homophobic neighbor, there is no conflict. Instead, the story reads like one side of a conversation intimately and slowly told. Reading it seems a bit like eavesdropping. Continue reading
Dear Child (2008), written by John Farrell and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning, is a sweet and simple story about the love parents feel for their children. The narrative lyrically unfolds as a letter from a parent to a child. Diverse and inclusive images of families demonstrate the universality of parental love. Continue reading
Through the Eyes of Om: Exploring Malaysia, written by Sonny Tannan and illustrated by Agus Prajoro, is a sweet story told from the perspective of Om, a young boy with light-brown skin and big brown eyes. Om’s going on his first trip to Malaysia, his mother’s native country, where he will meet his grandparents and other family members for the first time.
Readers learn lots of fun facts about Malaysia, including customs for greeting elders, famous monuments, and basic geography. Prajoro does a lovely job creating vibrant images of clothes, food, and places. Continue reading
A lot of stereotypical representations inevitably make their way onto young readers’ bookshelves. Elizabeth Rhodes’ Feminism is for Boys challenges near ubiquitous gender stereotypes by providing an accessible introduction to feminism.
The first page proudly declares: “Feminism is for Everyone… Including Boys!” Bright images of children with many different complexions shatter gender stereotypes and permit boys to feel all their emotions and experience life to the fullest. Continue reading