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

Phyllis Hacken Johnson’s The Boy Toy (1988)

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

Bruce Mack’s Jesse’s Dream Skirt (1979)

Jesse's Dream SkirtJesse’s Dream Skirt (1979) is a Lollipop Power, Inc. publication written by Bruce Mack and illustrated by Marian Buchanan. The opening image depicts a semi-circle of ethnically diverse men in traditional cultural attire framing a young boy wrapped in a sheet. The text reads: “There are and were and always will be boys who wear dresses and skirts and things that whirl, twirl, flow and glow.”

Image and text position the young boy, Jesse, as part of a long line of boys and men who wear dresses and skirts. Although not a very enlightened approach to history or genealogy, the awkward first impression shouldn’t detract from the rest of this very good picture book.

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Rigoberto González’s Antonio’s Card (2005)

Antonio's Card/ La tarjeta de Antonio (English and Spanish Edition)Antonio’s Card, written by Rigoberto González and illustrated by Cecilia Concepción Álvarez, was published in 2005 by Children’s Book Press, a non-profit publisher of multicultural children’s literature. The protagonist, a Latinx boy named Antonio, lives with his mother and her partner, Leslie.

Antonio’s peers make fun of Leslie, a tall woman with a boyish haircut and penchant for paint-splattered overalls. They suggest she looks “like a box of crayons exploded all over her” or “like a rodeo clown.” Antonio doesn’t share this with his mom or Leslie. Continue reading

Elizabeth Rhodes’ Feminism is for Boys

Feminism is for BoysA 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