The Meher Schools Equity and Inclusion Committee has compiled a list of books that parents have found helpful in their learning around gender and sexuality. If you have a title to add to the list, let us know! Quotes are from the publishers' descriptions.

 


The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide To Gender by Sam Killermann “explains all of the gender concepts in a way that is easy enough for a newbie to understand, but comprehensive enough for an expert to learn something.” It isn’t overly academic and is “less of a focus on overwhelming scholarship and more of a focus on enjoyable learning.”





 

The Savvy Ally: A Guide for Becoming a Skilled LGBTQ+ Advocate by Jeannie Gainsburg is “an enjoyable, humorous, encouraging, easy to understand guidebook for being an ally to the LGBTQ+ communities. It is chock full of practical and useful tools for LGBTQ+ advocacy.” For parents “who want to be supportive of their LGBTQ+ child, but don't know how,” this is a great book to start with.




 

Raising LGBTQ Allies: A Parent’s Guide to Changing the Messages From the Playground by Chris Tompkins “sheds light on the deeper, multi-faceted layers of homophobia. It opens up a conversation with parents around the possibility they may have an LGBTQ child, and shows how heteronormativity can be harmful if not addressed clearly and early. Although not every parent will have an LGBTQ child, their child will jump rope or play tag with a child who is LGBTQ.” Tompkins shows “the importance of having open and authentic conversations with children at a young age,” and helps parents “explore their own subconscious biases.”



 

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt is an “inspiring true story of transgender actor and activist Nicole Maines, whose identical twin brother, Jonas, and ordinary American family join her on an extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.”







 

Pride: The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement by Matthew Todd “documents the milestones in the fight for LGBTQ equality, from the victories of early activists to the passing of legislation barring discrimination, and the gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ community in politics, sport, culture and the media.” It “is a unique celebration of LGBTQ culture, an account of the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement.”






Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

Grade: pre-school-K

Themes: different kinds of families, love


This board book shows a different family on each page along with a statement like, “love is baking a special cake.” Family love is the focus of this book, set against a backdrop of diverse parents and children.


Optional Discussion Question: What makes your family special?



 

Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman

Grade: pre-school-1st

Themes: self expression


This simple book states that every color of the rainbow is for both boys and girls on each page. These sentences are accompanied by beautiful illustrations of children playing sports, making art, dressing up and all sorts of other exuberant activities.


Optional Discussion Question: Can you think of examples of when there were/are things for “boys” and “girls” separately? Why do you think that is?



 

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Grade: K-2nd

Themes: different kinds of families, love, self expression, allyship


On a subway ride, Julian sees people dressed as beautiful mermaids and decides that he would like to be a mermaid too. This book features the joy of self-expression as well as the beauty of having a supportive abuela.


Optional Discussion Question: How do you think Julian feels in his costume? Is there anything you wear that makes you feel amazing?



 

It Feels Good To Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn

Grade: 2nd-5th

Themes: self expression


This straightforward book explains gender identity. Alongside gorgeous illustrations this book says, “no matter what your gender identity is, you are ok exactly the way you are. And you are loved.”


Optional Discussion Question: What is your gender identity?




 

Annie’s Plaid Shirt by Stacy B. Davids

Grade: K-3rd

Themes: self expression, allyship


This book tells the story of a girl who does not feel comfortable in the fancy dress her mom buys her for a wedding and how she would much rather wear her favorite plaid shirt.


Optional Discussion Question: Why do you think Annie’s mom wants her to dress differently? Do you have favorite clothing?






 

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman

Grade: 1st-3rd

Themes: self expression, allyship


Roger loves exploring the world and loves to proclaim how fabulous everything is! His parents find his favorite word to be unacceptable and ban it from his vocabulary. This story is about the beauty in the world around us and how we can use our voices to celebrate it.


Optional Discussion Question: What do you think are the most fabulous things?




 

Who Are You? by Brook Pessin-Whedbee

Grade: 1st-4th

Themes: different kinds of families, self expression


This book presents clear, straightforward language about how we experience gender. An interactive wheel in the book illustrates the three layers of our bodies, our expression of gender, and our identities.


Optional Discussion Question: What is your gender identity?



 

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss

Grade: 1st-5th

Themes: different kinds of families, love, allyship


Marlon Bundo is a lonely bunny until he meets another bunny and falls in love. This book covers marriage equality and what it looks like for Marlon Bundo’s friends to stand up for his equal rights.


Optional Discussion Question: Why is it important that Marlon’s friends stand up for him? How can you stand up for people who are different?



 

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Grade: K-3rd

Themes: self expression, allyship


Red tells the story of a blue crayon in a red wrapper. This allegory can be used to explain the transgender experience as well as other human struggles to have the world see you for what you are on the inside. Red is a story of self acceptance and the joy of being seen and validated for who you truly are.


Optional Discussion Question: What is something that people can’t tell about you just by looking at you?






 

Seeing Gender: An Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression by Iris Gotleib

Grade: 5th +

Themes: self expression, allyship, love


This illustrated book focuses on the many ways gender manifests across cultures and time periods. Each page investigates a different way we express and understand gender. This book features David Bowie, Marsha P. Johnson, gendered privilege, Matthew Shepherd, pronouns explained, the pink tax, and more!


Optional Discussion Question: What are some gender inequalities you’ve noticed in our society? How can we push back on them?





 

Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff

Grade: K-3

Themes: self expression, self acceptance


This story is told from the point of view of Max, a boy sharing his experience as a trans person. Max tells about his feelings when he has to decide which bathroom to use, how it felt to come out to his friends and family, and how finding support is so important.


Optional Discussion Question: Have you ever been asked to wear something that felt wrong to you? What did that feel like?





After 33 years of checking books out and in, shelving them, and teaching library classes and reading stories to thousands of children, our librarian, Thea Montandon, will be retiring at the end of the first summer session. Then she’ll be off to Greece to help establish a library on her favorite island.


Thea began here as a volunteer in our baby room in the school’s early years, then became the assistant administrator at Diablo Valley Montessori School. She returned as our librarian in 1989 and has been with us ever since.


All K–5 students have library class once a week, where they “learn to be comfortable and stimulated by what the library and books can offer.” Thea’s extensive library curriculum covers everything from learning to alphabetize to safe ways to conduct research on the internet. She reads stories to the younger students.

“Over the years I’ve come to know which books meet the interests of each grade level. Starting in kindergarten, the students quickly learn where their favorite books live, and since I’ve known many of them since they were in kindergarten, I can keep up with their reading levels and personalities and find their next best read.”


During Thea’s years here, she oversaw the barcoding of all 23,000 books in the library’s collection of fiction, nonfiction, and reference works.


Thea reflects, “We’re so fortunate to have a school library at a time when many have disappeared or have become computer labs. It's hard to imagine it not being there for the coming generations, and it's been wonderful to see so many of my former students all grown up and now bringing their own children.” (Two of her four children and two of her grandchildren are Meher School alumni.)


Thea will be at school during the summer to help hire and train a new librarian. She’ll also be offering tutoring (see “Bulletin Board,” below).


In September she’ll head for Greece, where she’ll help set up a library on the island of Skopolos. She helped establish the island’s first library in 1990.


“It's been a joy to be part of this wonderful place of such high standards, not only academically, but more importantly, to be part of this place of love.”