In Jacob’s New Dress the protagonist shares his desire to wear a dress with his parents. They take a little convincing but are quite supportive; in fact, Jacob’s mom helps him sew a dress. Jacob does deal with bullying when he wears his new dress to school, but his best friend Sophie, a supportive girl who reappears in Jacob’s Room to Choose, stands up for him. Continue reading
What Riley Wore (2019), written by Elana K. Arnold, explores the creativity and sensitivity of a nonbinary/gender creative child as they navigate everyday life from the dentist’s office to the playground. This accessible children’s picture book is colorfully and cartoonishly illustrated by Linda Davick with a touch of whimsy that doesn’t detract from the text’s realism. Continue reading
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
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
Jamie is Jamie: A Book About Being Yourself and Playing Your Way (2018), written by Afsaneh Moradian and illustrated by Maria Bogade, is the story of a non-binary child named Jamie’s first day at a new school.
Jamie has a gender ambiguous name, appearance, and choice in play. When they arrive at their new school wearing a red and white striped top with purple pants and red shoes, their brown hair cut short, their new peers end up reading their gender through their play preferences. Continue reading
Neither (2018), created by Airlie Anderson, is a study in collapsing binaries. It’s both silly and serious, or perhaps neither of those things, depending on your point-of-view.
Anderson’s book opens like a fairy tale and reads like an allegory. Once upon a time, in a far way place named the Land of This and That, there were blue bunnies and yellow birds. Then something that was both, or neither, hatched. This thing that was both or neither had a bird body, bunny ears, and a bunny tale. Instead of being yellow or blue, it was green. The birds and bunnies didn’t know what to make of the new arrival and so they made fun at its expense, naming it Neither. Continue reading