New and Recommended Books from 2014 and 2015—Gender, Family, Bullying
Gender Identity and Stereotyping
Call Me Tree. Maya Christina Gonzalez. (PreK – 2) A lyrical story about belonging, connecting with nature, and becoming your fullest self. Inspires readers to dream and reach and to be as free and unique as trees. Tree’s gender is purposely not named so that all can relate to the story and discussions can be had.
Gracefully Grayson. Ami Polonsky. (5 – 7) Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?
Henry Holton Takes the Ice. Sandra Bradley. (Pre-K – 1) Henry’s family is crazy for hockey – except for Henry. After seeing an ice dancing performance, he realizes he can do something on the ice. But first he has to convince his family to let him follow his own path.
I am Jazz. Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. (K – 5) From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. Based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings.
Jacob’s New Dress. Sarah and Ian Hoffman. (Pre-K – 2) Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Jacob wants to wear a dress. Can he convince his parents to let him wear one to school? Speaks to the challenges faced by boys (and their families) who don't identify with traditional gender roles.
Red: A Crayon's Story. Michael Hall. (PreK – 1) A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as "red" suffers an identity crisis. Almost everyone tries to “help” him be red until a friend offers a new perspective. He’s blue! About finding the courage to be true to your inner self. This can be read on multiple levels.
Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son. Lori Duron. (Adults) A frank, heartfelt, and brutally funny account of her and her family's adventures of distress and happiness raising a gender-creative son. Whereas her older son, Chase, is a Lego-loving, sports-playing boy's boy, her younger son, C.J., would much rather twirl around in a pink sparkly tutu. Based on Duron’s popular blog.
Supporting Transgender and Gender Creative Youth: Schools, Families, and Communities in Action. Elizabeth Meyer and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon, Editors. (Adults) Specifically addresses issues and challenges in education, social work, medicine, and counseling as well as recommendations that are relevant for parents, families, practitioners, and educators.
Looking at All Kinds of Families
Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson. (4 – 12) Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Selina Alko. (1 – 3) For most students these days it would come as a surprise to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own – before the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.
Counting by 7s. Holly Goldberg Sloan. (6 – 8) Follow Willow on her journey towards family after her adoptive parents die in a car crash.
Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. (4 – 6) The three sisters from One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven head to Alabama to visit their grandmother and great-grandmother for the summer. Family history, family complications, family fun.
Half a World Away. Cynthia Kadohata. (5 – 8) Jaden is adopted, considers himself an ‘epic fail’ so that is why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him. Instead Jaden discovers the transformative power of love.
Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me. Daniel Beaty. (K – 2) Shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.
Last Stop on Market Street. Matt De La Peña. (Pre-K – 2) As CJ and his grandma ride the bus, he wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in the world around them.
The New Small Person. Lauren Child. (Pre-K – 2) Elmore Green starts life as an only child. But one day everything changes, when the new small person comes along. Gets to the heart of a child’s evolving emotions about becoming a big brother or sister.
One Family. George Shannon. (Pre-K – 2) While the text looks at numbers and the concept of “one” – one batch of cookies, one family, one world – the images portray a diverse range of people and families – multigenerational, interracial, gay.
Books that Include Lesbian and Gay Family Members and Characters
Also Known as Elvis. James Howe. (4 – 7) Skeezie’s got the leather jacket of a tough guy, but a heart of gold. While stuck at home for the summer helping out his mom, he navigates first crushes and tough choices about family and friends. Final book in The Misfits series.
Heather Has Two Mommies. Lesléa Newman. (Pre-K – 1) 25th Anniversary Edition. Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. As school begins, Heather sees that, "the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another."
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher. Dana Alison Levy (3 – 5) The Fletchers’ school year is anything but boring with four brothers, two dads – from camping trips to scary tales told in the dark, from new schools to old friends, from imaginary cheetahs to very real skunks.
The Popularity Papers: Book Seven: The Less-Than-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang. Amy Ignatow. (4 – 7) Final book in a series of seven graphic novels that follow two best friends from fifth grade into middle school. Julie has two dads. The second book looks directly at bullying.
Stella Brings the Family. Miriam B. Schiffer. (Pre-K – 1) Stella's class is having a Mother's Day celebration, but what's a girl with two daddies to do? Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in this sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.
The Year of Billy Miller. Kevin Henkes. (1 – 2) Follow along as Billy learns to navigate 2nd grade with his stay-at-home dad, his busy working mom and his cute (but annoying) little sister. From the complications of a diorama to a poetry slam on family, Billy makes it through the year. One classmate has two moms.
On Bullying and Bias
Desmond and the Very Mean Word: A Story of Forgiveness. Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams. (K – 3) Based on a true story from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood. As a child, when he took his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turned to hurt and anger when a group of boys shouted a very mean word at him.
The Invisible Boy. Trudy Ludwig. (K – 3) Nobody ever seems to notice Brian or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. Includes discussion questions.
Two Speckled Eggs. Jennifer K. Mann. (Pre-K – 1) Ginger can’t wait to invite all the girls from her class to her birthday party – except weird Lyla Browning, but she has to invite everyone. Portrayal of familiar scenarios, from party meltdown to a child who is different from her peers.