Create a classroom library with books about all kinds of identities. As with any classroom library it’s a good idea to slowly add books that cover topics that students may not be familiar with. Consider highlighting some of these books as a read aloud with specific discussions or activities before adding them to your library.
Think of some ways to integrate them into a unit you teach during the school year.
One thought might be to do an identity project (developmentally appropriate for 5th or 6th graders) and use some of these books as a read aloud.
Here are 8 books for elementary (1-6 or beyond) students that include characters that are transgender, broaden the sense of gender stereotypes, or are trying to educate about diversity:
The Adventures of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy by S. Bear Bergman: Read about the journey of Tulip who is a birthday wish fairy working to full fill nine-year olds wishes. In one of the wishes Tulip was asked by Daniel to grant a wish Daniel to live as Daniella. Read this story of how Tulip figures out how to help Daniella!
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert: This book explores topics of gender identity, gender roles, and gender stereotypes! Click here to watch a good review. Consider using some of these activities with this book.
I Am Jazz: by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings: Watch a video of one of the authors here. This book tells the story of a young transgender girl who at a very young age knew who she was and her transition. The story line is simple and clear for younger audiences.
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis:This story written by a mother whose child is gendervariant. This is another great book for young students with its simple language and clear points of be who you are and accept others as who they are. Be sure to watch the video on Amazon by the author.
Backwards Day by S. Bear Bergman: Imagine a world where one day everything was backwards? In this story, the planet Tenalp has seventeen seasons. One day is completely backwards. The main character Andrea looks forward to this day each year so Andrea can live as Andy! Although, there could be some criticism that the character plays into gender stereotypes this is an example of ONE experience. I’m glad this book is available.
Goblinheart by Brett Axel: In this story the terms goblin and fairy are used instead of pronouns. Throughout the story one character Julep wants to grow up to be a goblin instead of a fairy. The story shows how the tribe learns and supports Julep through this process.
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara: A book that teaches about activism. This is not a book that should be used for young kids, but rather better suited for grades 4-6 who to engage in different kinds of discussions of racism, identities, orientations, and other social justice topics.
When setting up my classroom I’ve always looked for ways to make sure students have the opportunity to read all kinds of books. I want students to know about all kinds of people. In my research I continue to find huge holes of stories missing. One example of this, in the list above there are two books that focus on kids who were assigned female at birth, but are gendevariant or on the transmasculine spectrum. When looking at books on that include these kinds of characters there are far more who highlight young children who are assigned male at birth. While both are extremely necessary we need more books that reach young students assigned female at birth who may not feel that label as accurate. Another aspect of children’s literature that is missing are stories with kids of color who have different gender identities and experiences. We have got to continue to grow this body of literature!
Thanks for reading!