“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
— The very wise Dr. Seuss
This simple message is at the heart of Jennifer Carr’s new children’s book Be Who You Are. I can assure you that you’ve never read a children’s book like this before — and that is precisely why the author wrote it.
Be Who You Are tackles the topic of gender non-conforming children. The book tells the story of Nick, a child who has known he is a girl inside for as long as he can remember and follows his journey of self awareness. Nick’s parents provide a supportive environment where Nick expresses himself without worry or judgment. However, everyday life outside of Nick’s home is far less accepting.
School dictates that Nick should stand in the boy’s line, use the boy’s
bathroom and draw a self portrait of a boy. Some family members don’t
understand either. Nick’s personality changes from a happy child to a
sad and often angry child who withdraws.
Nick’s parents seek help from Dr. Bee, a therapist who helps gender
non-conforming children, giving Nick another person to speak with about
his feelings. Nick comes to a critical decision about living
authentically for the first time and transitions to living as the person
she knows herself to be, a girl.
The story gently speaks to the unique challenges gender non-conforming
and transgender children and their families encounter. Illustrator Ben Rumback’s drawings are a fitting accompaniment to the kid-friendly, approachable text.
In light of recent media attention to the issue of bullying and
“Princess Boys,” kids and gender have become something of a
hot topic. I think that Be Who You Are will become in important
educational tool in helping these kids find acceptance living authentic,
happy lives. The book successfully demystifies gender non-conforming
behavior and transgender children by creating a character for children
to identify with and providing language for families, friends,
caregivers and educators who may not know how to help a child with
gender non-conforming behavior.
As I read through the book for the first time, I immediately felt that
the message was applicable to to all of us. The story is about a gender
non-conforming child, but it’s value is certainly not limited to just
that situation. The themes of being true to yourself and accepting of
others are important messages for everyone. The book would be
beneficial additional to any family’s bookshelf.
For more information about purchasing this book, visit the author’s website.