My Own Way: Celebrating Gender Freedom for Kids

by Joana Estrela (Author)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Small children are often asked to choose between a gendered binary-"boy" or "girl", "pink" or "blue". This colorful picture book smashes these stereotypes and encourages the reader to follow their own way!

"Girl or Boy?"

What brings you joy?

"Pink or blue?"

It's up to you.

With vibrant illustrations and concise, poetic text, this powerful book teaches young children that there are no limits in what you can do and who you can be. You are unique!

Translated from the original Portuguese by award-winning transgender poet Jay Hulme, My Own Way is an important, timely, and beautiful celebration of identity, difference, and respect.

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Publishers Weekly

Estrela's simple rhyming text reminds readers that "everyone has their own way" when considering personal identity, indicating that the most significant part of oneself is not appearance-based at all: "Boy or girl? None or both?// It's your heart that matters most." Snappy lines in an all-capitalized font bookend dynamic images of characters with mostly surreal skin colors partaking in everyday activities against textured monochrome backgrounds: eating ice cream, playing soccer, and more, all rendered in wax crayon and digitally in an eye-catching, contemporary art-reminiscent palette. "You can see the different faces, // but the rest is theirs to say," one spread reads, portraying a grid of stamp-like faces with minimalist features and doodle-like hairstyles. Though the book largely uses binary pronouns when referencing individual figures, it's a broadly encouraging guide to considering gender identity. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1--Estrela's first book aims to dismantle stereotypical pat answers to the question, "What is gender?" Many of the sentiments here can be universally endorsed ("It's your heart that matters most"), while others ("Boy or girl doesn't cover everyone. You might be both ... You might be none!") may feel too easy or facile for proper discussion. Simple digital and wax crayon illustrations resemble a child's drawings, with settings that are familiar--beach, stage, playing field--and colorful, as the emphasis on pink and blue gives way to yellow, green, and purple. Hulme, who is transgender, translated the very short text in rhyme; it focuses on enthusiastic assurances like, "You'll find your way." Although the admonition to "Be yourself, free and brave," might not be so easy in some circumstances, this book will be embraced by those who find support in its views. VERDICT Purchase where more titles are needed to expand collections about gender. An encouraging, cheerful introduction for younger children.--Patricia D. Lothrop

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Reminiscent of Todd Parr... this book offers support and acceptance."
Angela Leeper, Booklist
Joana Estrela

Joana Estrela is an illustrator and author living in Porto, Portugal. She studied Communication Design in Porto's Fine Art Faculty, and still lives and works next door to the school. In 2014, Plana published her first book: a graphic novel called Propaganda. In 2016, Planeta Tangerina published Mana, the winner of the 1st Serpa International Award for Picture Books. The book received the award for Best Illustration of a Picturebook (Portuguese Author) at the Amadora BD comics festival, the same year.

Jay Hulme is an award-winning transgender performance poet, speaker, writer, and educator. Alongside his writing and regular performances, he teaches in schools and consults and speaks at events and conferences on the importance of diversity in the media, and more specifically transgender inclusion and rights.

He writes poetry for children and young adults, and the five-poet collection Rising Stars, of which he was a part, was Highly Commended in the 2018 CLiPPA awards - the UK's biggest award for children's poetry collections. His collection, Clouds Cannot Cover Us was nominated for the 2021 Carnegie Medal.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Wide Eyed Editions
Publication date
March 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JNF042000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Poetry | General
JNF053080 - Juvenile Nonfiction | LGBT
JNF053160 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Topics | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JNF069000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Diversity & Multicultural
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Gender identity
Sex differences
Sexual minorities
Gender nonconformity
Gender expression
Children's poetry, Portuguese

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