For April we're bringing the focus to books for very young readers, or for families to read together. Though books like these are being challenged all over the country, we stand behind the importance of showing queer lives and joys regardless of age. In these books, LGBTQ+ or questioning children, or children of LGBTQ+ parents, navigate worlds where being themselves is made more complicated because of the lack of understanding of those around them. That doesn't mean, though, that they can't find acceptance and belonging.
We start with From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom, Kai Yun Ching, and Wai-Yant Li. Using an almost surreal art style that highlights the gender variations Miu Lan feels, the book uses magic to explore some very real issues. From the publisher:
"A magical gender variant child brings transformation and change to the world around them thanks to their mother's enduring love. In the magical time between night and day, when both the sun and the moon are in the sky, a child is born in a little blue house on a hill. And Miu Lan is not just any child, but one who can change into any shape they can imagine. The only problem is they can't decide what to be: a boy or a girl? A bird or a fish? A flower or a shooting star? At school, though, they must endure inquisitive looks and difficult questions from the other children, and have trouble finding friends who will accept them for who they are. But they find comfort in the loving arms of their mother, who always offers them the same loving refrain: "whatever you dream of / i believe you can be / from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea. " In this captivating, beautifully imagined picture book about gender, identity, and the acceptance of the differences between us, Miu Lan faces many questions about who they are and who they may be. But one thing's for sure: no matter who this child becomes, their mother will love them just the same. Ages 3 to 8."
Next is Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff and Luciano Lozano. Max is just starting school, and runs into the ways that the way he feels differs from the ways people might treat him because of his birth name. The book focuses on the importance and powerful joy that can come from being seen and accepted, rather than forced to be something that you're not. From Amazon:
"When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn’t seem to fit. Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by―a boy’s name. This begins Max’s journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents. Written with warmth and sensitivity by trans writer Kyle Lukoff, this book is a sweet and age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender."
And finally we have The Zero Dads Club by Angel Adeyoha and Aubrey Williams. It's Father's Day, and yet for some, like Akilah and Kai, it's a holiday complicated by the fact that they don't have dads. From this "difference," though, comes an opportunity for them to celebrate the people who matter in their lives, and start a special club for people who don't have a dad for whatever reason. From the publisher:
"It's Father's Day craft time in Akilah and Kai's class, but they don't have dads! So, they hatch a plan to create a special club. It's for all the kids in their grade who don't have a dad, but want to celebrate other family members instead. See what they make in The Zero Dads Club!"