Wednesday 17th May 2017 was International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and I was fortunate enough to join the related session for second year primary undergraduates yesterday. The lecture was called ‘Celebrating Difference and Challenging Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in the Primary School’ and included Mel Elliott, author and illustrator of the brilliant and empowering Pearl Power picture book series. It was a very powerful teaching session and one which will hopefully result in students feeling more confident in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in their classrooms. I did compile a list of children’s books featuring LGBT characters to accompany the session, but was also prompted by one of the students to recommend some titles specifically for challenging transphobia and exploring gender non-conformity. Quality children’s books on this theme can be few and far between, but happily this is beginning to change and we have seen some great titles published recently including Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton and George by Alex Gino. However, it would be good to see more longer reads at primary level*.
Recommended books for challenging transphobia and exploring gender non-conformity:
Something Else by Kathyrn Cave and Chris Riddell (ill.) (Puffin)
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert and Rex Ray (ill.) (Seven Stories Press)
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books)
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel (Dial Books)
Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman and Chris Case (ill.) (Albert Whitman and Co.)
I’m A Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail (Bloomsbury Children’s)
I Got a Crocodile by Nicola Killen (Simon and Schuster)
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis and Suzanne DeSimone (ill.) (Aladdin)
Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton and Dougal MacPherson (Bloomsbury Children’s)
George by Alex Gino (Scholastic)
If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (Usborne)
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin (W&N)
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson (David Fickling)
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon and Schuster)
Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews (Simon and Schuster)
Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? By CJ Atkinson (Jessica Kingsley)
Who Are You?: The Kids Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee (Jessica Kingsley)
Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Early Years by Kath Tayler and Deborah Price (Routledge)
What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg (Seven Stories)
For further titles I also heartily recommend the Letterbox Library who specialise in equality and diversity in children’s books.
*I deliberately omitted David Walliams primary level book The Boy in the Dress from this list as the quest for humour in the story frequently results in negative portrayals of gender non-conformity.