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
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
The Boy Toy (1988), written by Phyllis Hacken Johnson and illustrated by Lena Shiffman, is a Lollipop Power Press publication that challenges gender stereotypes on multiple fronts.
The protagonist is a boy named Chad who loves a doll named Dan that his grandmother made him. When Chad starts school, he meets Sam, a boy who tends to police gender norms. Chad wants to impress Sam and doesn’t want him to find out about his doll, which prompts Chad to give Dan to his sister. Continue reading
Tooth Fairy, You Have Some Explaining to Do! (2019), written by Denise Barry and illustrated by Alejandro Echavez, is a recent Mascot Books publication about a child who loses a tooth and does not get the visit from the tooth fairy they were expecting. The blond, blue-eyed child with rosy pink skin wonders if they did something wrong.
Echavez’s images are silly and sweet. He does a wonderful job breaking with gender stereotypes beyond the character themself. For instance, the protagonist’s messy bedroom has drums and soccer balls as well as pink notebooks and purple stuffed toys. Continue reading
Written by Lois Gould and first published by Ms. in 1972, X: A Fabulous Child’s Story, was republished in 1978 by Daughters Publishing Company with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast. The short story that became a picture book challenges the idea that gender is a natural expression clearly connected to the sexed body. Instead, it suggests that gender is a learned behavior that restricts freedom. Continue reading
Matt Mendez’s emotionally demanding Barely Missing Everything (2019) explores the lives of working-class Mexican Americans living in El Paso, TX. A teenage boy named Juan anchors the text, which focalizes his experiences as well as those of his mother, Fabi, and his best friend, JD.
Juan and JD are high school seniors planning life after high school, but just barely. They both have hazy visions of the future. JD, a film enthusiast, aspires to make movies and carries a camera wherever he goes. Juan, a high school basketball star on a mediocre team, doesn’t imagine himself doing anything else. Additionally, Fabi, a teen mom turned 30-something mom of a teenager, tends bar to make ends meet. Continue reading
Queer-affirming children’s book Large Fears (2015) is the product of a collaboration between writer Myles E. Johnson and illustrator Kendrick Daye. Each two page-spread is a vignette combining prose-poetry, photographs, black and white sketches, and color blasts that provide readers with access to the witty, whimsical, controlled chaos of young Jeremiah’s mind. Jeremiah is a queer black boy who loves pink and wants to go to Mars but his fears are almost as big as his dreams and they keep him Earth-bound. Continue reading