After my first go-round on the Rainbow List, one of my major complaints was that we weren’t receiving many picture book submissions (I believe we only got two last year, and out of those, only one had LGBTQ content. It was a bummer). I was also dissatisfied with the number of books that featured People of Color. It seemed that way too many titles revolved around white, cisgendered men. I was yearning for more protagonists that were black or Asian or Latino or…anything.
Well, someone heard my prayers, because I have been blessed with three offerings that have restored my faith in picture books (for a while, anyway. I’ll be fussy by as soon as next month). If they’re not on your radar, I insist you order them right now. Your collection desperately needs these titles. If you don’t think you have LGBTQ folks in your neighborhood, you’re wrong. Even if that were the case, we owe it to the children and families that frequent our libraries to have rich, diverse collections. Hey, everyone, #weneeddiversebooks.
I have to be honest, I was wary of another “boy in a dress” book. Our library has a few of them with varying quality and appeal. Sometimes I feel that featuring a boy in a dress is talking around homosexuality/queerness/trans-ness instead of about it. But, with weekly stories about kids being kicked out of school (Or reprimanded. Or shamed) due to their manner of dress, apparently books like this are still very much needed, though possibly more for the world’s adults more than the children.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino, is indeed a “boy in a dress book”, but its dreamy illustrations help it stand out from the others. It’s super lush and beautiful. By the end of the read, you’ll be wanting to live in Morris’ world of cats and elephants and spaceships. Plus, his dress looks like orange cotton candy.
Not Every Princess exists in sort of the same vein as Morris Micklewhite, in that it tackles gender identity and gender presentation. While Morris has a plot and dialogue, Not Every Princess simply introduces us to a number of children who see no limits to how they experience life. Gender stereotypes are not talked about explicitly. Instead, the reader is simply told that girls can be tough and boys can be gentle and vice versa. Some princesses are strong. Some knights are kind. Traditional gender roles don’t prevent us from being our fully realized selves.
Not Every Princess features one of the most diverse casts of characters I’ve seen in a long time. I adore the sweet faces on all these children:
This title was written by Jeffrey and Lisa Bone, two psychiatrists, who provide a very helpful “Notes for Parents and Caregivers” section at the back of the book. With its seamless rhyming cadence, Not Every Princess is perfect for your next all-ages storytime.
I saved my favorite of the bunch for last. It’s OK to have favorites, right? Here’s This Day in June, which, like Not Every Princess, is from Magination Press. While it shares some similarities with the previous book (it features graceful, non-awkward rhymes, as well as vital resources for parents and caregivers), I’ve never seen anything like This Day in June in my life. I get goosebumps every time I read it. This is the picture book I’ve been waiting for. Your library needs this book. Right now. Your collection doesn’t have anything remotely similar. I promise.
This Day in June takes place at a gay pride parade. Every kind of family is featured. It’s cheerful, heartwarming, and affirming. It captures a real sense of community and belonging (it reminded me of the Jackson Heights pride parade!). I adored the vibrant illustrations (you could TASTE the confetti in the air!) and the warm faces of the characters. So often LGBTQ books for kids ignore and exclude People of Color. That is not the case with this title. Your patrons are bound to see their faces reflected in these pages.
I have a hard time talking about books I truly love. I tend to gush and not make much sense, so I hope that some of these illustrations do the talking for me:
If you purchase just one new picture book this year, it should be This Day in June.
~Love and Libraries (and picture books for all of us!), Ingrid