"You Gotta Be You" by Brandon Kyle Goodman
First on our list of great books this month is “You Gotta be You,” a gift to the soul and a roadmap to self discovery. Goodman is a queer, Black, nonbinary actor, he is known for his appearance in Big Mouth and Feel the Beat. He makes clear in the book that he struggled with his identity and the expectations of family and society throughout his life. His often confusing background is what ultimately shaped him. Basically, Goodman suggests that our life is dictated to us a certain way depending on which social demographic we fit into. This book is all about breaking free from this and to be content with the way we are and not what people expect from us. He poignantly asks “Who would I be if society never got its hands on me?” Essentially we are molded so much by our environment that we lose a lot of our unique character and potential. This book is funny on one page and then heartbreaking on the next. It is really a journey of self understanding and the message is we are enough the way we are. No matter where you come from, your race, gender or sexuality, this book contains enough humanity to be relatable for all.
“The Adventures of Kimberly & Khalil” by George St. Thomas
Author St. Thomas has a passion for youth development and his time in the classroom led him to notice a lack of representation of people of color in school material. His new book shows kids how Black historical figures have shaped the world through a 34-page activity book. Here he tells the story of two 13-year-old kids, Kimberley and Khalil, who find a time machine that they use to learn about Black history. The coloring books of Black pioneers, innovators and inventors enable kids to spend time learning about historical figures they perhaps wouldn’t learn about in the classroom and how important Black history is to American history. This book also shows the “all American family” as a Black family, something seldom done in American pop culture or literature.
“For Boys Who Dance” by Hollywood
It is no secret that there has always been a certain level of prejudice against boys who do dance as a hobby. There still exists an extremely out of date opinion that dance isn’t macho and therefore we as society discourage boys from doing it. This anthology of poems has a simple message: to inspire and uplift those young boys and inform them of the benefits of dance, whether it is to keep fit and healthy or to just have a passion in life. This is also refreshing to read for those of us who are grown up, but needed so desperately to hear this as kids. This book is a powerful tool in challenging gender stereotypes. Its inclusive illustrations show that it doesn’t matter what background you come from, dance is a universal medium and beneficial to all kids.
“Grumpy Monkey" series by Suzanne Lang
Your kids will absolutely love the wacky adventures of a bad-tempered monkey named Jim Panzee. The 13 books in the series ensure there’s a story for all times of the year, whether it’s him struggling to get into the Christmas spirit or his problems with romance on Valentine’s Day. The books are suitable for children ages three to seven and are easy to read and full of exciting illustrations and characters. The best thing about these books is the seldom discussed message they convey. Basically that we’re not always happy and that’s ok. We should not stigmatize nor repress certain moods as they’re natural human emotions. Even if your kids don’t think too deeply about these things, it’s still a fun way to learn about new and exotic animals and its the perfect bedtime story.