When Aidan Became A Brother (Kyle Lukoff)

Hello, friends! Our book today is When Aidan Became A Brother, written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, a very unique story of a little boy becoming a big brother.

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. So they decorated his room in “girly” colors and gave him a girl’s name and put him in pretty dresses. But when he grew bigger, Aidan realized that he hated all those girly things; of course, so did some of the other girls too, but Aidan didn’t feel like those types of girls – he felt like another type of boy. When he told his parents, they supported him and helped him transition, and now he’s happy being a boy, and most excited to be a big brother to his little sibling-to-be. He wants to make sure that the new baby will feel welcome and loved no matter who they are. But how can he do that, especially when the world can still be such a confusing place for him? Aidan’s willing to try – he’s determined to be the best big brother he can.

What an lovely and unexpected book. While the story centers around a transgender child, the main theme is not solely about being trans, but how we view gender. Telling it from the point of view of Aidan – a young child who has already spent his childhood examining gender roles by necessity – allows readers both young and old to question along with him as he ponders why it should matter if the new baby is a boy or girl, or how it should affect how they are dressed or treated. It allows the book to have a great range of themes: it’s a new baby book, and a book about growing up trans, and a book about societal views on gender, and a book about love and family, and a book about how there are lots of ways to be a boy or a girl, and more. It’s fresh and striking and can open up opportunities for many discussions. The artwork is the cherry on top, using bright patterns and expressive faces to create emotion and warmth. Even the author’s note is a touching reminder that by being true to ourselves, we make the world brighter and more wonderful. The length was great, and JJ loved it too. Absolutely superb, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity (Theresa Thorn)

Hello, friends – we’re back! And with a book that’s perfect for our first Pride Month review: It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity, written by Theresa Thorn and illustrated by Noah Grigni.

Meet Ruthie. She is a transgender girl; when she was little, everyone thought she was a boy, but when she was old enough to speak for herself, she let everyone know the truth. Her brother Xavier is a cisgender boy; when he was little, everyone thought he was a boy, and they were right! They also have friends like Alex – who is both a boy and a girl – and JJ, who doesn’t feel like either. Alex and JJ are non-binary, and just like there are lots of ways to be a boy or a girl, there are lots of ways to be non-binary as well! No matter what gender someone identifies as, the most important thing is that they are loved, supported, and free to be themselves – doesn’t it feel good to be yourself?

LOVE. Taking a concept that is often overwrought or misconstrued and simplifying it down to its core elements, this child-friendly look at the spectrum of gender covers a lot of ground without ever feeling overwhelming or confusing. Especially wonderful is the way the illustrations explore further elements, such as diversity, intersectionality and non-gendered clothing and play, giving kids and parents even more avenues to discuss all the wonderful ways we can be different. The text can feel a little repetitive in areas, but it’s not out of place with such important and complex topic, and the ultimate lesson is about loving yourself and feeling free to express who you are in whatever way makes you feel comfortable. JJ especially enjoyed the rich colors of the art (and that she shared a name with one of the characters). The length was great, the wealth of backmatter encourages further education, and we loved it. A great way to explore questions about gender as a family, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

10,000 Dresses (Marcus Ewert)

Hello, friends! Our book today is 10,000 Dresses, written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Rex Ray, a look into the dreams and struggles of a young transgender girl.

When Bailey dreams, she dreams of dresses – 10,000 in total. Each dress is a wonder, made of crystals or flowers or windows into far-off lands. But whenever Bailey wakes up and shares her dreams with her family, she is met with uncharitable reactions: “You’re a BOY!” they say, “you shouldn’t be thinking about dresses.” Bailey tells them that she doesn’t feel like a boy, but they refuse to hear it, and her brother even cruelly bullies her. Seeking solitude, she walks to the end of the road and finds an older girl making a dress; Laurel has the skill for dressmaking but lacks inspiration. Bailey shares her dreams with Laurel and together, they begin to make Bailey’s dream dresses a reality.

This one is tough. Bailey’s dreams are so lovely, and the way the text uses her preferred pronouns from the start captures the confusion and frustration of trans people knowing who they are while the world tells them something else. My concerns lie with Bailey’s family: while their attitudes and reactions are sadly accurate of the families of many trans people, I’m on the fence on whether this honest depiction is right for a picture book. Likewise, I LOVED the interactions with Laurel at the end, which gives hope of finding and making one’s own family – again, as many transgender people must do – but it raises the question: what will Bailey’s family do when they discover she’s been making and wearing dresses? Overall, I think this is a blunt yet hopeful depiction of life as a trans child, but when sharing it with bookworms, be sure to include a conversation to discuss questions they may have. Otherwise, the mixed-media art carries to the story and its themes beautifully, the length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender And Friendship (Jessica Walton)


Hello, friends! Today, we read Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender And Friendship, written by Jessica Walton and illustrated by Dougal MacPherson, a sweet tale about two inseparable friends.

Errol and Thomas the Teddy are the best of pals. Every day they play together, eat together, and go on adventures together. One day, Thomas is sad, and nothing seems to cheer him up. When Errol asks his friend to tell him what’s wrong, Thomas nervously confides that he is afraid to tell Errol for fear of losing their friendship. Thomas has grown up as a boy teddy bear, but he feels in his heart that he is a girl teddy. He no longer wants to be “Thomas,” but “Tilly” instead. Errol hugs his friend tight, and assures Tilly that no matter what name, appearance, or gender makes Tilly feel most comfortable, Errol will always be Tilly’s best friend.

This was a fantastic book about gender identity for little ones. As the subtitle says, it’s very gentle: the only conflict to be found is Tilly’s indecision, and she is readily accepted and supported by Errol and their friend Ava. Every detail related to gender identity is spot-on: there are no gender stereotypes (boys have tea parties, girls build robots), no extended questioning of Tilly’s gender (“But, why?”), no assumption that her preferred gender will affect her personality (Errol and Tilly go back to doing the same things everyday that Errol and “Thomas” did). The illustrations are adorable, with a soothing color palate and a certain sweetness that sits well in the heart. The length is perfect for baby bookworms, and JJ really enjoyed it. But best of all, it’s a story about being yourself, the right to feel comfortable in your own skin, and being a good friend. We loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Top 5: LGBTQ Books

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Merry Christmas Eve, friends! As our gift to you, we hope you that like this week’s top five, full of LGBTQ children’s books! One of the most important ways that we can help people in the LGBTQ community to feel safe and welcome is by educating children early about the issues that can affect them. Gay, trans and/or queer children deserve to grow up knowing that there are other people like them out there, and straight/CIS children deserve to understand that people in those communities are just like them. So without further ado, here are our Top 5 LGBTQ books of 2016:

1. And Tango Makes Three (Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell)

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This classic true story of a same-sex penguin couple at the Central Park Zoo is a great way of introducing the topic of same-sex couples to children who may have questions about them, and showing that real families are always built around love. Roy, Silo, and Tango’s tale will melt your heart while informing about penguins and their habits, and showing that non-traditional families are just as loving and caring as traditional ones.

2. Red: A Crayon’s Story (Michael Hall)

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A fantastic book about being true to the person inside yourself, no matter your exterior. The tale of the “red” crayon finding happiness by being who it is meant to be, rather than who it is expected to be, is almost universally identifiable, and wonderfully applicable to children who may be struggling with confusion about gender or orientation. Combined with simple, bright illustrations, this makes for a fabulous lesson in being oneself despite the expectations or preconceptions of others.

3. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress (Christine Baldacchino)

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A beautifully imaginative tale of a little boy and his favorite dress that sends a powerful message about the effects of bullying, as well as the power of acceptance and self-confidence. Morris is not portrayed as gay or trans (though these identities are not excluded either), but simply a boy who loves the dress that reminds him of tigers and his mother’s hair, and his story will leave you touched and feeling hopeful. A lovely book for boys and girls that shows that clothing has no gender, and what’s most important is to wear what makes us comfortable.

4. I Am Jazz (Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings)

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Another true story, this book has quickly become a seminal classic about trans issues. Co-written by an actual transgender youth, is offers an authentic and straightforward look at what it’s like to be born into and grow up with a body the wrong gender. Jazz’s courage to be who she is despite the challenges she faces offers hope to other transgender youth that accepting their identities and/or transitioning can help them be happier and healthier, while showing non-LGBTQ children that trans people are just that: people.

5. Worm Loves Worm (J.J. Austrian)

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One of our favorite books from this year! The sweet, adorably illustrated story of two worms in love will absolutely melt your heart. It’s a perfectly simple story for a perfectly simple lesson: that love is love, no matter what gender or orientation the lovebirds are. Cheerful, warm, and wonderfully fun to read, this book is a perfect addition to any baby bookworm’s bookshelf (in fact, don’t tell JJ, but Santa may be leaving a copy under her tree tonight)!

There we are! Those are our Top 5 LGBTQ books from 2016. Tell us what you think? Did you enjoy any of these books? Were there any that we missed? And be sure to come back next week (New Year’s Eve!) for another Top 5 list. Until then, have a very Merry Christmas!