"What one reads becomes a part of what one sees and feels." Ralph Ellison #CelebrationTour

Celebration Tour Gifts

Celebration Tour 2015

Pics and Stories about Books Gifted to Libraries Celebrating DSG in
24 States & 1 Province in 7 Weeks

Here are some pics and stories from along the #CelebrationTour road trip. We met more 150 interesting people along the way, celebrated and gifted over 25 books, and drove almost 6,500 miles/10460 kilometers. We also have a list of 50+ books recommended by our community – including parents, librarians, and LGBTQ-identified people – right here.

  • Scroll down to see the all the books donated by our Celebration Community, and gifted to libraries in 24 states + 1 province. 
  • All pics and stories are in chronological order of the first time we entered the state/province.

Celebrate with us!

State #1: Texas
The kids were napping, so we didn’t get a chance to stop at this library in Lockhart, TX. (Look closely behind the Smitty’s Market sign.) Luckily, we’ve had plenty of great BBQ at Smitty’s, so will be back to Lockhart when we return to Texas!

(Pssst…We’re continuing the Celebration Tour this fall with more travels in Texas, sign-up here to be in the loop!)

State #2: Louisiana

CelebratioTourRainbow_061415My rainbow kids and I had a wonderful time in Lake Charles, LA. It was rainy, it was sunny, and we saw a rainbow! (The rainbow may not show up depending on the size of your screen.)


Gifted Book #1
We were honored to gift the classic book Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden to the Calcasieu Parish Library, and had a great chat with their librarians about diverse sexuality and gender.

Thanks again to Josh & Shawn for gifting this wonderful book!


State #3: Mississippi
We had the chance for a quick stop to see the beach, and visit with Jackie, a wonderful librarian at the West Biloxi Public Library in Mississipi.

Gifted Book #2
Thanks to Susie for gifting the book

I Am Jazz. It was a book that sparked many conversations among the librarians and community members during our visit.


State #4: Alabama
In Montgomery, we gifted a copy of
Red to the enthusiastic librarians at the Juliette Hampton Morgan Memorial Library. It was exciting to learn that they already had a number of the books we had to offer, and were mentioning individual potential readers in their community as they looked through the books.  

Gifted Book #3
They chose a copy of Red, which was published in 2015. It is such a creative book that celebrates knowing one’s true colors.
 Many thanks to Alexis who gifted this book in honor or Maria.

News Flash:
We have received a donation from the author, Michael Hall, that will enable us to gift 10+ copies of Red to libraries in Texas and South Carolina!


We had a chance to learn more about some of our family’s heroes of the Civil Rights movement at the Rosa Parks Museum & Library.

It was an interactive, child-friendly museum – complete with a time machine shaped as the bus where Rosa Parks famously said “No.” Take a virtual tour of the time machine we experienced at the museum.

We also had a mind-blowing conversation with our tour guide about his experience of diverse sexuality and gender in his own family. I love that guy!

I so enjoy conversations that spark aha moments and celebrations. Read about – and listen to – some of our favorite Civil Rights inspirational songs on the Songs for Celebration playlist.

State #5: Georgia
Celebration Tour_Celebrating ChildhoodGifted Book #4
In Fayetteville, the engaging librarian, Erin, chose one of our host family’s favorite books: It’s Okay to Be Different.

It is always such a thrill when a librarian chooses a book for their library collection, and even more so when the young woman who is accompanying you to the library grew up loving that book to pieces – literally! CelebrationTour_ThankYou_063015With so many thanks to Alexis who donated this book in honor of Maria.

In early July, we were so grateful to receive such a joyful acknowledgement from Erin about the effect our Celebration Tour had.

Erin wrote:
It was lovely to meet you and learn more about transgender children. I love your spirit and your message and wish you all the best. Thank you for including public libraries on your journey…Thank you for the book (Todd Parr! Love him.)

Wow! Thank you for your kind words, Erin. It was a such pleasure to visit with you!

State #6: South Carolina
Unfortunately, we were not able to get to Charleston, SC to visit with our sister-in-the-work, Sabrina Samona, at TransMusePlanet.

CelebrationTour_CharlestonStrong_061815What a challenge to wake up to the news on June 18th that the city of Charleston had been terrorized by violence and death at the historic Mother Emanuel church.

We are sending light and love to all who are affected by this tragedy. (We also plan to send copies of Red to be gifted to a local library.) It felt like a day where fear did its best to erase hope.

We are grateful we had our Songs for Celebration – especially Don’t Stop Believin’ – to break up listening to the news of the tragedy.

State #7: North Carolina

CelebrationTour_SparkingConversations_061915 (1)We stopped at two libraries in North Carolina. In Vass, we loved the large one-room library, which had a child-sized circus tent structure to play in, and a homey feel.

Gifted Book #5
Debbie chose the 25th anniversary edition of Heather Has Two Mommies. With so many thanks to Christina who donated this book in celebration of Dee-Vyne!

Here’s an interesting take on this book’s long history with censorship. The author, Leslea Newman, self-published this book. In 2000, the author shared these thoughts about how children and adults seem to respond differently to this story.

Newman discussed the various reactions she received after the first copy was published: one child slept “with all of them [three copies of the book] under his pillow every night” and another child asked to hear the story every night even though he only had one mom. Newman stated, “I have not yet heard of a child having an adverse reaction to the book. Adults, however are another story.” 

CelebrationTour_BelovedBooks_061915Gifted Book #6
In Fayetteville, NC, we joyfully visited the library with some friends. There, Kelli chose Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches and Other Stories. This is one of my daughter’s favorite books from the group of gifted books. She was sorry to see it go, but the library was happy to get another copy of it as their copy had been lost and never replaced. It is a beloved book!

Thanks to Alexis who donated this classic book in honor of Maria.

CelebrationTour_BelovedBooks_061515My friend and colleague, Rhonda Thomason, wrote an excellent anti-racist lesson plan for this book for Teaching Tolerance (a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center). Rhonda’s anti-racist work is one of the most downloaded lesson plans on that site. Check out this video where Rhonda talks about books celebrating diversity.

In light of the recent hate-crime in Charleston, it struck me as particularly encouraging that The Sneetches – with its powerful message about difference and diversity – was chosen by a library the day after the tragedy.

Watch as Rhonda Thomason talks about The Sneetches (gifted in Fayetteville, North Carolina), and The Great Big Book of Families (gifted in Saco, ME). Rhonda speaks to why it’s so important to celebrate diversity as an educator.

State #8: Virginia

We didn’t get a chance to stop at a library in Virginia as it was a long day of driving.  We hope to spend more time in the state for lovers soon!

State #9: Maryland

CelebrationTour_SparkingConversations_062115The library in Frederick, Maryland was engaging for the kids, as well as chock full of books about diversity. One of the very first things I noticed was this sign on top of a large bookshelf in the Children’s Section where they had a number of the books that we gifted on the Celebration Tour.

Indeed, it took the librarian a little while to find a book that they did not yet have in their collection! (See the pic featuring their cool sign about special topics for adults and kids, and a library copy of 10,000 Dresses.)
CelebrationTour_CelebratingDiversity_062115 (1)
Gifted Book #7
Luckily, they did find a wonderful book: Roland Humphrey is Wearing a WHAT?

With thanks to Sue who gifted this book in honor or Julienne who saw herself when she first read this book.

State #10: Delaware


Gifted Book #8
Although the lovely looking Brandywine Library – complete with elaborate playscape! – was closed for the day, we had the good fortune to donate the book When Kayla Was Kyle to local author D.X. Luc.

We also had such a great time visiting with the librarian, Kerry, at the main library in Wilmington, Delaware. Kerry graciously told us a little bit about the GLAAD-inspired #GotYourBack collection of #LGBT-focused books they are featuring in the newly renovated Teen Room.

Librarian, Kerry, talks about how they are supporting teens with #GotYourBack

Librarian, Kerry, talks about how they are supporting teens with #GotYourBack


Watch this 30 second video clip for more about how the Wilmington librarians are supporting teens during LGBT Pride month.

Gifted Book #9
Kerry chose the bilingual, gender-neutral book, Call Me Tree, for the library collection. Thanks again to Susie for donating this book!


State #11: Pennsylvania CelebrationTour_CelebratingWonder_062415 (1)
We spent a few hours at the wonderful Kingsessing Free Library of Philadelphia. At this neighborhood library, their summer focus is exploring a “
sense of wonder.” On the day we visited, they were celebrating wonder with a visit from two beautiful greyhounds, and one friendly dachshund.

Gifted Book #10
Their children’s librarian, Kim, chose Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon. This book reminds us to celebrate the wonderfulness in each and every person.

Thanks to Christina for gifting this book in celebration of Dee-Vyne!

State #12: New Jersey
New Jersey was but a blip in our drive from Philly to New York City. We will have to spend more time in the Garden State on our next trip.

State #13: New York
CelebrationTour_CelebratingKids_062815 (1)In late June, we had a whirlwind trip to New York City where we had the chance to celebrate Pride with new and old friends on the Pride is for Kids, Too float.


Here’s my family and me on the float, all decked out in our Facebook rainbow colors.

Gifted Book #11
In July, we had the opportunity to visit Cooperstown where we saw some heroes at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It was fun to talk about baseball books for kids, and share more about one of our heroes, I Am Jazz, with the Cooperstown librarians. 


Thank you to Jazz’s co-author Jessica Herthel for donating two copies of this wonderful book!

CelebrationTour_Celebrating_OldForgeNY_Quilt_080115Gifted Book #12
While enjoying a vacation at our family’s camp in the Adirondacks, I had the opportunity for an adventure involving quilts and banjos.

After an initial visit to the Old Forge Library – complete with this lovely quilt commemorating the library’s centennial made by the local quilting group – I was soon connected with director of the library at the local banjo shop.

Surrounded by banjos, I had a wonderful conversation with Izzie about life in Old Forge – a town I have happily visited over the past 35 years, and the myriad reasons I had chosen to embark on this Celebration Tour – some professional, some personal.

CelebrationTour_#Community_OldForce_080115We gifted the book When Panda Was A Boy, illustrated with colorful quilts by the author, Connie Dunn.

Many thanks to Connie for donating this book in honor of my own budding author, Tulip Lavender, and all kids who celebrate diverse sexuality and gender.

Celebrating Community in CT

State #14: Connecticut
We had a wonderful visit with our friend Mimi in Darien, CT. What a wonderful library – complete with a cafe and lots of play space for the kids! Thanks to Mimi for creating this picture collage for us as I had just lost my phone the day before.

I am holding the book Stella Brings the Family about a girl with two dads. The very knowledgeable librarian highly recommended this book.

It is now included on the Celebration Tour recommended list which includes all the books that have been recommended by our community. This list is a great resource for anyone who wants to celebrate diverse sexuality and gender with the youth in their lives. (Please connect with us here if you have a book to recommend for the list.)

Celebrating Community in CTGifted Book #13
We gifted the wonderful book Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis that was donated in honor of Maria. I was particularly excited that this book includes the word “Celebration.”

The Birds & The Bees in Darien, CTSimilarly to the library in Frederick, Maryland, the Darien, Connecticut library also had a special topics section including The Birds & The Bees. We loved how it was color coded so parents and kids can easily find books by topic.

State #15: Massachusetts
We spent some time in Boston with my family. After hearing about the snow-filled winter, we were excited to take some time to enjoy the sunny weather at lakes, ponds, and baseball games. After such a challenging winter, we were grateful for a summer in New England to celebrate. (Especially when the Red Sox are on a red hot winning streak!)

Celebrating Summer in New EnglandI Am Jazz in Brookline, MA

We also got a chance to visit my hometown library in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was wonderful to see how it’s grown and changed. Also great to be able to donate a book that they didn’t yet have in their collection. It was so timely as Jazz’s show I Am Jazz began airing on TLC in mid-July. Have you seen it yet? We were in the wilds of Maine when it started airing, but have caught up with it since then. We are so impressed byt this young woman, with her powerful voice, and supportive family.

(Here’s a sneak peek of the show as Jazz shares her whole family – including grandparents . Check it out as we love the celebration that Jazz brings to the conversation!)

Gifted Book #14
We gifted one copy of I Am Jazz to the Brookline public library. Thank you to Jazz’s co-author Jessica Herthel for donating two copies of this wonderful book.

CelebrationTour_CelebratingAuthors_ConnieDunn_072115We also had the chance to connect with author Connie Dunn in Franklin, Massachusetts at the first public library in the USA.

Connie donated her book When Panda Was a Boy to the library – where it will be featured in the “local authors” section. She also gifted a copy to us for the tour – illustrated with colorful renditions of her own quilts.

CelebrationTour_CelebratingReaders_Franklin_072115Gifted Book #15
We donated the book 10,000 Dresses.  We think Ben Franklin – who was such a forward thinking leader – would appreciate this book by Marcus Ewert. With thanks to Josh & Shawn for this life-changing gift!

State #16: New HampshireCelebrationTour_Celebrating_TangoMakes3_NH_072115
We had a wonderful visit with the librarian, Georgie, at the Ingalls Memorial Library in Rindge, New Hampshire.

Gifted Book #16
We gifted And Tango Makes Three – a well-loved, and often censored book.

This summer, libraries across the US have been celebrating the theme of Every Hero Has a Story. Tango is a true story of an unusual hero. And the book, too, has had a heroic journey as third on the list of most attempted banned books in the USA.

State #17: Maine
We saw so many friends, and met new friends, in the refreshing “vacationland” of central Maine. Happily, we were able to visit four wonderful libraries during our travels!

CelebrationTour_CelebratingDSG_Maine_071615 (1)

Gifted Book #17
In Freeport, Maine, a library guest had recently asked about books for families with young children. We were happy to help fulfill that need by gifting Cory Silverberg’s What Makes a Baby. You can download the free reader’s guide here.

I had the chance to interview Cory in February 2015, and our conversation about Cory’s librarian parent was one of the sparks for the Celebration Tour. Cory, and illustrator Fiona Smythe, have just released their new book Sex Is A Funny Word.

We also talked a lot about David Levithan’s wonderful books with Freeport’s very knowledgeable librarian, Mary. As a total bonus, we enjoyed chocolate cookies baked in a solar oven as a special outside project happening that day at the library.

Gifted Book #18
In Saco, Maine, we celebrated diverse families by gifting The Great Big Books of Families at this cosy, family-friendly library. (Check out our video clip with education consultant Rhonda Thomason about this book.)

Many thanks to Alexis for donating this book in celebration of Maria.

CelebrationTour_Celebrating_NaplesME_071715Gifted Book #18
We gifted Made By Raffi to the library in Naples, Maine. This is a colorful and engaging book by musician and author Craig Pomranz.

Gifted Book #19
We also gifted the colorful – and very celebratory – book Families Are Like Ice Cream Flavors to a multi-generational family camp library in Belgrade, Maine.

We are grateful to Kathy and Roger for donating these books in celebration of our own Tulip Lavender.

State #18: VermontCelebrationTour_CelebratingLibraries_VT_071915
While we had a wonderful time swimming and boating in Vermont with family, we did not get a chance to visit a library during our brief visit. We will hope to get back to the beautiful Queechee and Woodstock libraries next time.



The Fantastic Four in London, Ontario (Gifted: Backwards Day & Luna)

Province #1: Ontario
We spent a long time enjoying our visit with the wonderful librarians at the main library in London, Ontario.

Gifted Books #20 + #21
The children’s librarians chose Backwards Day – with thanks to Alexis. The teen librarian chose Luna – a classic, graciously donated by Brittany.

We were so impressed by the trans group they host for youth every week in the aptly-named Alphabet Community Centre. They also let me know about the local university which has a wonderful looking Pride Library.

CelebrationTour_DSGFlags_080315O Canada – we are so grateful for all you do to
celebrate diverse sexuality & gender!

State #19: Michigan

"What one reads becomes a part of what one sees and feels." Ralph Ellison #CelebrationTour

“What one reads becomes a part of what one sees and feels.” Ralph Ellison

Gifted Book #22
At the library in Flint, Michigan, we had the chance to donate another copy of I Am Jazz, graciously donated by Jon & Jean during our travels in Ontario.

The kids loved playing in the colorful and comfortable spaces, and I had the pleasure to talk about this phenomenal book with the librarians.

I was honored that they both shared some of their own experiences with celebrating diverse sexuality & gender, especially with members of the trans community in Flint.

State #20: Indiana
On a long day of travel from Ontario to the Chicago area, Indiana was a brief part of our drive. Next time!

State #21: Illinois
During a trampoline and plasma car-filled visit with my cousin and her family, we had the chance to donate The Book of Lost Things to the Indian Trails library in Wheeling, Illinois.

Gifted Book #23
In this video, Caleb shares how this book was a life-changer for him, and why he donated the book to the Celebration Tour.

On a side note, we learned that Chick-fil-A is not a celebrator of diverse sexuality and gender. So much for enjoying waffle fries and pretty decent chicken salad on future road trips.

State #22: Wisconsin
On a long day of travel from the Chicago area to Oklahoma, we had a very brief – and enlightening – breakfast meet-up with a good friend at the Cracker Barrel in Kenosha, WIsconsin.

While we didn’t get to a library there, we did learn that Cracker Barrel is not very friendly – let alone celebratory – about diversity (i.e. race, gender identity and sexual orientation). We’re sad because we love their biscuits, but will be voting with our wallets until they change their ways. Sigh. Another road trip option crossed off the list.

State #23: Missouri
Lots of adventures to share from our visit to St. Louis, including visiting with two really interesting women in a great library!

CelebrationTour_CelebratingLibraries_HazelwoodMO_080615Gifted Book #23
We gifted the book Be Who You Are, with thanks to Alexis.

Not only did the library feature innovative book bundles, but we also had the chance to meet up with the author, Sally Ember.

CelebrationTour_CelebratingAuthors_StLouisMO_080615You may remember that I had the pleasure to talk with Sally about books for youth that celebrate diverse sexuality and gender on her webcasted show Changes in July.

We also met up with Dr. Sharon Dunski Vermont, who recently published a piece in the Washington Post about her trans son. She is a champion celebrator as she offers books like I Am Jazz, in the patient rooms at her pediatric practice. Way to go Sharon!

State #24: Oklahoma

Check out our adventures at the library in Muskogee, Oklahoma through the eyes of Tulip Lavender.
Gifted Books #24, #25 & #26CelebrationTour_MuskogeeOK_080815

The Adventures of Tulip the Birthday Fairy
Our girl loves that Tulip the Birthday Fairy becomes Tulip the Gender Wish Fairy in this book. She was so happy to gift Tulip to a library on her own birthday, and we love how the author, S. Bear Bergman, responded on Facebook to Tulip’s video!

It’s Not the Stork
This book changed our lives in such a good way, and is one of Tulip’s favorites since she was 3. This was a donation from our family to the Celebration Tour in honor of Tulip & Azalea.

Do You!
Even though it’s geared to young adults, and Tulip is 7, she absolutely loves this book! With thanks to Sue for connecting with the author, Ben Cohen, who then donated 3 copies to the Celebration Tour at the Philly Trans Health Conference.

Back home to Texas!

Celebrating Community in Austin, Texas

Celebrating Community in Austin, Texas

Gifted Book #27

One of our favorite local libraries hosts a PFLAG meeting, so we had a chance to visit with the wonderful librarian, Craig, and also reconnect with our PFLAG community in Austin.

We were impressed by the comprehensive Austin public library collection with books celebrating diverse sexuality and gender. Some Assembly Required is one of our absolute favorites for young adults – especially those who would like to know more about transitioning from female to male.

With so many thanks to Alexis who donated this book in honor of Maria.

More celebrating to come…

“Like” us to see how we’re continuing the Celebration Tour here.

Total books donated to date: 27

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Notes from the Celebration Tour

This blog is just a small example of all the celebrations we’re sharing with our email list.

 Join the Celebration Community for more emails about conversations sparked by the Celebration Tour
– including how to gift a book to your own local library – 

Celebration Tour Censored2Celebrated

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