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BEING YOU by Megan Madison Kirkus Star


A First Conversation About Gender

From the First Conversations series

by Megan Madison & Jessica Ralli ; illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-593-38264-6
Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

This primer on gender lays the groundwork for affirming conversations and creates opportunities for self-identification.

In straightforward, encouraging prose, Madison and Ralli guide readers through a gentle and interactive introduction to gender, sex, self-expression, and feminism. Beginning with a concrete foundation of commonality (everyone has a body), the lesson continues naturally into specific body parts (elbows, noses, vaginas, penises—the latter two not depicted), all the while normalizing that “every person’s body parts look different.” With that understanding, the narrator transitions into the way grown-ups describe babies as boys or girls when they are born, based on genitalia; here there’s a refreshing (but brief) acknowledgement that sometimes grown-ups aren’t sure but make a guess anyway. Emphasizing joy, wonder, the fluidity of identity, and self-expertise, the text carefully distinguishes gender from expression, which leads seamlessly into a developmentally conscious explanation of harmful stereotypes, unfair rules that give boys unearned power, and ultimately a call to action. Prompting questions invite the audience to deepen the facilitated conversation through moments of self-love, reflection, and sharing personal truths. Accompanying illustrations feature a racially diverse cohort of children learning about themselves, playing with one another, and engaging with their community, which includes recurring representations of disabled people as active participants. The final pages, targeted at caregivers, provide additional means of engaging with the conversation and pointedly challenge adults not to underestimate young people.

An invaluable resource that supports ease and confidence.

(resources) (Board book. 2-5)