Being You: A First Conversation About Gender by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier. Rise, 2021. 9780593382646
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Format: Board book
What did you like about the book? I was really impressed with this book. It is celebratory about what makes each of us unique and educational at the same time. Body parts, genders, pronouns, gender stereotypes, feminists, and activism are all discussed in very age-appropriate ways for young children. While gender is the focus of the book, it really encompasses celebrating the whole child for who they are. Most pages include a question that complements the rest of the text to make the book more interactive and encourage further conversation with an adult reader, like “What do you love about your body?” or “What unfair things do you notice? What can you say or do about them?” Ten children appear regularly throughout the book, highlighting a variety of gender identities, pronouns, skin colors, hair textures and styles, one child with a hearing aid, and another with a prosthetic leg. Other people in the illustrations also show different religious symbols and hair coverings, someone using a wheelchair, someone with tattoos, someone with vitiligo. Two pages at the end of the book offer additional information for grown ups to talk about these topics with young children. The website firstconversations.com has more resources about this book and the other book in the same series, Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race.
Anything you did not like about the book. I would love for this book to be published again, just as it is, in a picture book format. The board book format makes it look like it is only for younger kids, and a picture book format may prompt use with elementary school students as well.
To whom would you recommend this book? This book is geared towards 2-5 year olds, but I would happily read it with younger children in elementary school. I would especially recommend it to families and educators who are looking to have conversations about gender with young kids and want support from a book, as well as children who are curious to learn more about themselves and the people around them.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries, day cares, elementary schools
Where would you shelve it? Board books, books for families
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham, Massachusetts
Date of review: Aug. 17, 2021