“Transgender and gender nonconforming people (think Caitlyn Jenner or Ruby Rose) are gaining more visibility as they find the courage to come out and live publicly as the most authentic versions of themselves. Around his third birthday, my son started showing signs of gender nonconformity — wearing a dress, growing his hair out and only playing with dolls while insisting he was boy and preferring masculine pronouns.
My husband and I have been committed to showing our son positive examples of differently gendered people in literature. We’ve read the following books countless times and always encourage an open dialogue about what it means to be a boy, a girl, a human. More importantly, we use these books to teach about love, acceptance, equality, empathy, and the beauty of diversity. Read these books to your child to help them better understand their gender identity and be a better friend to the boy who has long hair and wears a skirt or the girl with the short spiked hair who only wears pants….”
Click here to learn the eight books I recommend to start with when teaching kids about the fluidity of gender and the importance of acceptance.
I compiled this list for Brightly, a fantastic online resource aimed at making it easier and a lot more fun for parents to raise children who love to read.
Have a book to add to the list? Leave a comment here or on ReadBrightly.com.
My child identifies as gay, and when he first expressed this to me at 7-years-old, I had a lot more luck finding stuff about kids who were gender creative than I did finding stuff for little kids who have dreams of growing up and living happily ever after with a person of the same gender. I’d love to see some more of that for sure!
And Tango Makes Three with the universal love of animals really saved us when he was just seven and trying to figure out how to explain what he was thinking about. A Different Dragon does something similar with a dragon who doesn’t want to be fierce, but the main character conveniently also has two mothers. The mothers aren’t the center of the story, which I love because children’s fantasty stories never feature the parents, so it would be weird if they were anything other than bit players, and I want that for literature for my child. Normal. Just normal stories and normal, positive portrayals of LGBT adults as not a big deal.
My kiddo hated the much talked about, controversial King and King. Seriously… way too little depth to that story. If anyone else knows of other great elementary level books for LGB kids, I’d love to hear about them!
Oh dear. Not that I have much space left in my “special books” shelf that I’m putting together. Am I wrong that I know the people who need to read these most of all are fellow teachers?? Actually, I’m wussing here. Excuse me while I take the excellent link and send it to a couple of friends…
I love your list – it includes several of our favorites and some that we hope to get soon. Some additional suggestions that we like to read at home are:
– 10,000 Dresses: Bailey dreams of 10,000 amazing dresses but has a hard time finding someone to share the excitement. Interesting style: Bailey is referred to with female pronouns by the narrator but male pronouns by family members
– Red: A Crayon’s Story: this just came out and is something of a trans fable that never mentions gender. Red struggles to draw red things because they always end up being blue, but eventually figures out what he’s really good at doing.
– When Kathy is Keith: kind of like I Am Jazz but for the FTM set.
– Meet Polkadot: delightful characters include non-binary Polkadot, who refuses to identify as boy or as girl. Sometimes it is more reference discussion than kids’ story, so we just make up dialog to go with the pictures. Available from Danger Dot Publishing, dangerdot.com)
Our little reader just turned six and has been boy, boy that likes girl stuff, girl, boy and girl, and is currently back to boy (but still identifies as transgender).
This post made me look up more about Ruby Rose. I had no idea she identified as gender non-conforming. I thought she was just a gorgeous, extremely feminine looking, lesbian woman (I only know her from OITNB though). Very interesting. I don’t have kids, but will keep the book list handy if I hear of anyone looking for such things.
Serious question. If a biological male, likes fashion considered by this culture for girls, is he truly gender non conforming, or is he merely stereotypical non conforming? I’m thinking that gender fluid, or gender non conforming is truly not the correct descriptor.
If we know sex is blog iCal and gender is what is in the head, and sexuality is in the heart, then anything said as gender is incorrect. Does this make sense? If I see a penis, and accept that I am male. Period. If I relate to muself as a male and am attracted to females then I am a straight male who has no gender non conformance regardless of any behavior that any human has for likes, desires of subjective beauty, grooming of any sort and the like. I might surely be non stereotypical but I am in no way GENDER non conforming but in fact HUMAN conforming. I think we need to drop the gender aspect of this idea because I don’t think gender as we understand it, other than in relation to non particular subjective and changeable ideas is truly the right description at all. Love to hear others thoughts on this.
I see your point. But in society (American, at least) gender is woven into the fabric of our existence. It truly is a social construct. Toys are separated not based upon the genitals or biology of children, but based solely on the gender they’re assigned at birth: boy or girl. And, gasp, what if their genitals are ambiguous? Let alone if a child assigned male at birth likes fashion, which is a stereotypically feminine thing to be interested in.
So basically, while I agree that being human overrides any idea of gender that society posses, it’s nigh impossible to escape. So for some people it makes sense to say “gender non-conforming” and for others it makes more sense to say “human conforming.”