Children’s books about gender nonconformity

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the link and make a purchase on Amazon, I receive a percentage of the sale. The opinions contained within are my own and I was not paid. I did receive a copy via Netgalley for a review)

Even though I am not that old, I still find times that I hold old school beliefs. My own children, their friends, and the children I work with have been incredible examples of acceptance of the complex and diverse world around us. And because of this, I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases. I am still growing and learning, and grateful for the journey I am on. Books like Jacob’s room to choose by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, lead me even deeper into this journey.

I have found my eyes opened to ways I unintentionally contribute to stereotypes and biases.

Jacob’s room to choose tackles the ongoing cultural discussion of gendered bathrooms. The authors explore how gendered differences are established in cultural and how that impacts our young children. Even though the concept might be advanced for very young readers, the authors handle the material in an age appropriate and sensitive way.

I am glad to see more books about gender acceptance entering mainstream children’s literature, although I would like to see less message driven books surrounding this topic and more books about kids being kids no matter how or if they identify with any certain gender or stereotype.

The vulnerability of the authors’ own struggles will bring insights and encouragement to other parents facing the same issues as well as classroom teachers and communities. A worthwhile book to read and would be a great addition to a parenting section at the library or parent resources in a school setting.

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Other Books to Read:

Julien is a mermaid by Jessica Love. Julien has always wanted to dress up like the three beautiful women he meets on the train. With the support of his abuela, Julien sparkles inside and out when he is free to be himself.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis. Dyson loves the color pink and the more glitter the better. A great book for parents and kids learning to live together with differences.

Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman. A easy to read book about how there is no girl colors or boy colors. A freeing book for children and parents alike.

Red: A crayon’s story By Michael Hall. A story about a crayon who is mistakenly labeled and the hurt suffered when friends, family and strangers try to force him to be who they see on the outside. The crayon finds help from friends who encourage him to be true to who he is on the inside.

Books for Grown-ups:

Becoming Nicole: the extraordinary transformation of an ordinary family. By Amy Ellis Nutt. How a family pulls together to support their transitioning child and the ups and downs that come with the changes.

The Transgender Teen: a handbook for parents and professionals supporting transgender and nonbinary teens. Stephanie A. Brill and Lisa Kenney. A resource for parents, teachers and others who support a teen transitioning or living a nonbinary life.

Beyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out. Susan Kuklin. What is life like for a transgender teen? Read 6 stories of triumphs, struggles, and more.

 

What books have you found most helpful in initiating discussions with your family about gender stereotypes and labels?

 

Happy Reading

Book Review: Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza

By Cynthia Leonor Garza. Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez, 2017. New York: POW!

Ages 4-7.

( I am an amazon affiliate, if you click on the pictures or links it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

What this book is about

One day on the playground Lucía is teased by the boys that she can’t be a superhero. It makes her mad and that night her Abuela tells her about the luchadora’s. A luchador is more than an acrobatic wrestler. A luchadora is brave and spunky and fights for what is right. Lucía wears the luchador costume the next day on the playground and soon all the kids show up in masks and costumes. She has fun until the boys tease again that girls cannot be superheros. She takes off her mask to reveal her true identity and show the boys that girls are superheros.

What I like about this book

Print Motivation

It is hard to find picture books that feature diverse characters. This book not only features Mexican culture through the main character it is also a universal and empowering story for girls.

The pictures are vibrant and complement the text well and I love the influence from comic books and Mexican culture.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary is rich in the book. Every page introduces unique words.

Lucia the luchadora
From Amazon.com

As you can see from the sample pages your child will learn the words masked, swift, slick, style, luchadora, agile.

Print Awareness/Letter Awareness

Print Awareness will be developed with each reading. As is typical in comic books, the onomatopoeias are set apart and larger than the rest of the text. This is a great way to use your finger to follow the sentences and also highlight the places where the words deviate from the typical sentence structure. Paragraphs are in different colors which also will help children differentiate the text.

This book provides many opportunities to stop and have the child trace the letters with her fingers and sound out words even if she aren’t reading on her own yet.

Phonological Awareness

Onomatopoeias are also a great way to help kids learn different letter sounds. They are short words, often one syllable. As you read these words, follow along with your finger and then stop and have them repeat the sound.

The text, while doesn’t rhyme, has a strong cadence which gives it a beat like a rhyming book. The flow, not only makes it enjoyable to read out loud, strengthens your child’s expressive reading when they become independent readers.

Narrative Skills

Feeling different is a normal part of growing up and this book will provide a jumping off point to discuss this in your own family. Often times societal norms tell us girls act one way and boys act another. Talk about what you did as a child and some of your favorite memories that might help dispel the stereotypes.

There are many places in the book to stop and ask further questions about what is happening on the page that might not be told in the sentences. Ask your child about the pictures and what is also going on in the story.

Why you should pick this book up today

This book is a great read aloud that girls and boys will enjoy together. It features a strong Hispanic girl, provides rich vocabulary and strong text that makes this a book you will come back to again and again.

 

Other great picture books with strong female characters

Happy Reading!

Book Review: If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don’t! by Elise Parsley

If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, DON’T! By Elise Parsley. Hachette Book Group, Inc. 2016.

Ages: 2-5

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the image you will be redirected to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sale. I do not get paid to review particular books. The view are my own.)

Kids from toddler to preschool will love this book. It is reminiscent of Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. A little girl heads to the beach with her piano against the advice of her mother. As she drags the large instrument down the street her mother’s warning comes true and she realizes a boat or a Frisbee or a shovel are better companions at the beach.

What I like about this book.

It is funny. Kids will giggle and laugh over how silly the girl is taking a piano to the beach. (PRINT MOTIVATION) It has a strong narrative with repetition which helps build reading comprehension (NARRATIVE SKILLS) How the words are designed and placed on the page will highlight how books are read and how we follow the words on a page. (PRINT AWARENESS) I love the author’s use of language by using words like draggy, rested, bob. (VOCABULARY) Finally the pictures fit the flow of the story so well that your child will easily be able to tell the story from the pictures alone (NARRATIVE SKILLS)

HOW TO INTERACT WITH THE BOOK:

So much of building future readers is teaching and modeling to our children how to engage with the book. After you read the book, come up with a list of things you take to the beach. Then make another list of silly items you could take. This is a great way to build vocabulary as you share words you don’t normally use during the day in conversation with your child.

Talk about different instruments. Go online or find books at the library and explore instruments and their sounds. Sample music and if you have free concerts where you live take advantage of them and go to a concert. Talk about what you see there.

Make up your own silly beach tale using the list you made. Use the book as a template and help build reading comprehension and narrative skills through this story writing exercise.

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