6 picture books to celebrate marriage equality

Pinwheels

If you’ve spent any time online since Friday, you already know that, after decades of activism, gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states in America. Here are three picture books to help celebrate this historic moment, plus a link to list with three more.

1. King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

A bossy queen insists that her son must get married, but the princesses that parade through aren’t quite what the prince is looking for.

2. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole

Two male penguins pair up to raise a penguin chick. Inspired by a true story from the Central Park Zoo.

3. The Case for Loving by Selina Alko, illustrated by Alko and Sean Qualls

Mildred and Richard Loving just want to raise their family in their hometown in Virginia, but they can’t, because Mildred is black and Richard is white. This book (which I reviewed in more detail in February) is about the family at the center of the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision ending bans on interracial marriage. That case set the precedent for Friday’s ruling.

4-6. The Human Rights Campaign has a blog post of tips for talking to children about marriage equality. It includes recommendations for three books to start the conversation. I haven’t read any of those yet — let me know if you have!

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2 Picture Books About … Environmental Activists

2 pic books trees

Here are two great picture books about environmental activists.

“Luna & Me,” written and illustrated by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw tells the story of Julia “Butterfly” Hill, who spent two years living in a tree to prevent the clear-cutting of a California redwood forest. The trees her activism saved are up to 3,000 years old, and Kostecki-Shaw’s illustrations bring to life the entire ecosystem of which they are a part — birds, squirrels, banana slugs  — in an enchanting way. I felt as if I was there in the redwoods while reading. Continue reading

2 (true) children’s books about transgender youth

I am Jazz and Beyond Magenta

With all the buzz this month around Caitlyn Jenner — formerly known as Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist — making her first appearance as a woman, you might be wondering how to help the kids in your life understand what “transgender” means. Here are two good nonfiction resources published last year. One is for young kids and one is for teens, though plenty of adults could learn from both.

In “I am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, the story arc is straightforward — Jazz introduces herself, her favorite things and best friends, then tells us that she’s not quite like the other girls. “I have a girl brain but a boy. This is called transgender. I was born this way!” she explains before describing her and her family’s journey. The simple delivery of course makes this book a good mirror for trans kids or window for cis-gender ones, but beyond the subject of gender, it offers a entry into broader conversations about empathy.

“Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” is written and photographed by Susan Kuklin, but much of the text is directly in the teens’ own words. That’s what makes it powerful. Six teens share early memories of gender identity, struggles with un-accepting family members, experiences with taking hormones and much more. The text is accompanied by sometimes serious, sometimes playful photographs of the featured teens.

If you’ve read these books, let me know what you think in the comments. What children’s books featuring transgender individuals would you recommend?

Updates soon!

You may have noticed I didn’t post my diverse reading progress for April or May. Both months are very busy on the education beat at a newspaper (my day job). I’ve been doing exciting stuff like going to the National Spelling Bee and rounding up local schools’ tax rates. … Okay, the latter isn’t actually so fun, but the bee was. I met a former Sports Illustrated reporter there who was working on a middle grade novel about a competitive speller. Sign me up to read that.

There also have been other life events that have thrown my mental concentration off kidlit a bit, but I’m re-focusing now, and I will have more regular updates here in the coming weeks.

As a teaser, here’s a photo of me and I.W. Gregorio, author of the new YA novel, None of the Above, at a local bookstore. In addition to being an author (and a surgeon! and a mother!), Ilene is vice president of We Need Diverse Books. One of my upcoming posts will be about the wisdom and stories she shared when I heard her speak last month.