For this week's post, it was my honor to put together a roundup of books for various ages featuring trans and non-binary characters that educate and enlighten young audiences. As a cis woman with four children who (currently) identify with their assigned gender, I feel it is my responsibility to educate my children so that they can be allies and instigators for anyone at any time, specifically those who are subjected and maligned by our current administration. (For shame.)
Books are such powerful tools when it comes to communicating to our children about human rights issues, specifically issues we don't ourselves have the experience from which to speak. I can TELL my kids what's right and wrong and urge them to HEAR me, but if/when I cannot speak from experience myself, I must turn to those who can.
And so, with much thanks to friends on Facebook who recommended the majority of the books listed in today's post, here is a selection of 12 books for all children about what it's like growing up trans, non-binary and/or non gender-conforming.
Written specifically for small children (ages 3+), "Who Are You" explores and celebrates gender diversity with direct language, introducing important discussion points. A go-to resource for parents and educators alike. Written by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff.
Thomas is Errol's teddy bear, who doesn't identify as being a "boy teddy," but as a "girl teddy" named Tilly! Errol doesn't mind. He just wants his teddy to be happy. And now that she can be her true self? She absolutely is.
Written by Jess Walton—who was inspired to write "Introducing Teddy" after her father transitioned into the woman she had always identified with—this book provides an empathetic introduction to gender identity and what it means to transition. (3+)
Red has a RED label on his crayon body but inside he is BLUE, and even when he tries to be red, he cannot. It's impossible. "Red: A Crayon's Story" is about finding the courage to STAY TRUE TO YOUR INNER SELF, no matter how hard the outside world tries to convince you to conform to their standards. It's a WONDERFUL book that is as much about gender identity as it is IDENTITY identity. Gorgeous. Written and illustrated by Michael Hall. (3+)
George is a girl. But the rest of her class doesn't know that. It takes a theatrical production of "Charlotte's Web" for George to show the world who she truly is. Written by genderqueer author Alex Gino, George is a must-read for all middle-school-age children.
Another middle school must, "Gracefully Grayson" is about the coming of age of a transgender girl and what it means to be true to yourself, while also contending with bullies and adults who don't understand. Written by Ami Polonsky.
Also for teens, teachers and parents, "The ABCs of LGBT" is essential reading for anyone looking to educate themselves on gender identity and sexual identity. Written by Ashley Mardell.
A 5-year-old Indian boy becomes fascinated by his mother's bindi and asks if he can have one of his own. "The Boy & the Bindi" provides an introduction to gender non-conformity as well as Hindu culture. Written by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Rajni Perera. (For older, high school kids, check out Vivek Shraya's beloved "God Loves Hair.")
Winner of the Stonewall Honor Book in Children's and Young Adult Literature, "Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress" is a beautiful story about an imaginative boy named Morris who loves to wear dresses and is awesome. Written by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant.
Inspired by her gender non-conforming son, "One of a Kind Like Me/Único Como Yo" tells the story of a boy who wants to dress like a princess in the school parade. This bilingual story is for children age 4 to 7. Written by Lauren Mayeno.
Authored by 17-year-old trans teen Arin Andrews, "Some Assembly Required" tells the true story of a boy transitioning while in high school. For readers 14 and up.
The Other Boy tells the story of a boy named Shane who has a secret that nobody at school knows about ... yet. For kids ages 9 to 13ish, "The Other Boy" explores the transitional experience with clarity and empathy. Written by M.G. Hennessey.
Written by Jessica Herthel, director of the Stonewall National Education Project, and Jazz Jennings (who co-wrote the book at age 12 in 2014), "I Am Jazz" tells the true story of a transgender girl who, from the age of two, identified as female. This book not only explains to kids what it means to be transgender, it also empowers young readers to be true to themselves. Ages 4 and up.