Tag Archives: It’s Not the Stork

Day 8_EveryDay_C2C_May15

Day 8: Every Day

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DAY 8
Every Day
by David Levithan

Day8_EveryDay_Censored2Celebrated_May15_YouTube


This book has not yet been gifted for the Celebration Tour!

Donate it using our handy Wishlist here.


My Recent “Aha” Moment about DSG
One of my favorite questions to ask guests on the Censored2Celebrated monthly webcast is about an “aha” moment they have had recently in their work or personal life about Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). My most recent “aha” moment this week came about when I read David Leviathan’s book for young adults entitled Every Day

Censored2Celebrated_AhaMoment_MNCantuThis book not only entranced me as a story, but it also explored difference and sameness in an unusually compelling way. (I also celebrate that this book features a delightful, very much in love transgender and cisgender teen couple. I am not sure I have ever seen this!)

Here’s a synopsis in a review by Noah Towne – a High School Sophomore in Buffalo, NY:

The fascinating concept that Levithan has based his story around is a peculiar choice, even for the genre of fantasy. The plot revolves around a teenager named “A,” who is forced to travel between bodies every day. Whenever “A” wakes up, he/she needs to quickly adjust, as he/she will have to live the life of that person. One day, our protagonist finds himself controlling the body of a rude boy named Justin.

Despite a vow to never interfere with the person’s life he/she inhabits, “A” ends up falling in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, who Justin emotionally abuses. After “A” gives her the perfect day, he/she comes to the realization that Rhiannon’s heart will be broken after Justin returns to his bullying ways. “A” continuously returns to her in different bodies, and eventually reveals the truth about his/herself and how it wasn’t Justin that was so kind to her that day. The rest of the book involves the blossoming romance between “A” and Rhiannon, and how it is a struggle for both of them to see each other, due to the freakish circumstances.


While I am a big fan of Young Adult fiction, and science fiction and fantasy in particular, I appreciated how unusual it is that this book’s premise allows the reader to explore difference in so many ways. The differences explored by “A” include: gender identity, ethnicity, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, and mental health.

This exploration of difference and sameness is explained beautifully by “A” here:

It’s only in the finer points that it gets complicated and contentious, the inability to realize that no matter what our religion or gender or race or geographic background, we all have about 98 percent in common with each other.

Yes, the differences between male and female are biological, but if you look at the biology as a matter of percentage, there aren’t a whole lot of things that are different. Race is different purely as a social construction, not as an inherent difference. And religion— whether you believe in God or Yahweh or Allah or something else, odds are that at heart you want the same things.

For whatever reason, we like to focus on the 2 percent that’s different, and most of the conflict in the world comes from that. The only way I can navigate through my life is because of the 98 percent that every life has in common.

Censored2Celebrated_98vs2_MNCantuMy “aha” moment came about as I reflected on the 98% in common and 2% that’s different that “A” experiences in the different lives he/she/they inhabits for a day at a time. When put in such stark numerical terms, it struck me how powerful that 2% “difference” is. Some fear these differences, some tolerate, some accept, and some celebrate them.

The aha moment for me came when I connected some disturbing dots about how the fear – often communicated through censorship – effects those of us who identify with marginalized gender identity and/or sexual orientation.


 

About Books, Censorship, and Suicide Rates
Not surprisingly, with the Celebration Tour road trip taking off from Austin on June 13th, I’ve been thinking a lot about celebration, censorship, and books. Although Every Day isn’t on the banned book list, the quote about difference and commonality made me thinking more about the fear of difference that often seems to behind censoring books about DSG.

In the #aBookaDay blog, I have been surprised at how many books that we’ve been celebrating for kids and young adults have been challenged, or banned outright. (I wrote about this quite a bit on Day 3 with And Tango Makes Three.)

Cultural & Self Censorship
How does this cultural censorship of books effect those whose difference is rarely – if ever – celebrated by the culture around them (i.e. those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG)?Censored2Celebrated_CulturalCensorship_MNCantu Is there a connection with intensive cultural censorship, and self-censorship? Is this cultural and self-censorship related in any way to the high suicide rates we see in youth – especially those who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG?

Using data from the CDCThe Trevor Project reports that:

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.
  • LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
  • LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Censored2Celebrated_SelfCensorship_MNCantuWith such high rates of self-harm and suicidality among LGBTQ+ identified people, it is not a surprise that cultural censorship – such as banning books about DSG or throwing youth out of the house who come out – may turn inward and manifest as self-censorship. With this culture of censorship, how do we experience internal love worthiness when we are so often found unlovable by those around us?


Love Worthiness
I recently attended the Conference of Contemporary Relationships here in Austin, Texas. I was struck by a phrase shared in a workshop on Love Worthiness, presented by Amelia Coffman, MA.

My memory of the phrase is: “A person has to earn the right to hear your story.”

Earning the Right to Hear Your Story
In this day and age of the examined – and some might say over-shared – life on social media, this phrase struck me forcefully. In this world where so much is shared, the boundary between public and private often becomes even more sacred.

What does it mean for someone to earn the right to hear my story, or your story? What does that look like when the boundaries are often so blurred by social media, and the instant clickability that can so easily make our communications – like emails, texts and videos – go viral? What do we keep to ourselves, or choose only to share with our intimate circle of friends, family members, lovers and other significant others?

In the book Every Day, Rhiannon earns the right to hear “A’s” story through trust built on communication, connection, and a leap of faith. There is a sense of the sacred in their connection – something that – literally – transcends the body. Something that transcends the fear of the 2% difference. This allows them to move beyond self-censorship – particularly “A” who had never told anyone his/her/their story before – to celebration, as well as continued challenges by their unusual situation.


Books, Books and More Books
There is a funny paradox about how books create such an intimate internal world, but are words that are (usually) publicly available. It is amazing to me how an author’s words can connect with my inner world and become something unique to me – but also connect me with the author and the community of readers who have read this book. As a reader, I find such joy when an author chooses to share their story with me (and the rest of the world). As a result of their choice to publish their work, I have earned the right to hear their story. Stories are sacred.

When I have felt alone in some challenge – especially in my youth – I often turned to books in order to “see” myself. It is a form of celebration to see yourself in the books you read. You realize you are not alone when you can see a glimmer of that 2% that makes each of us different connecting with another person’s experience in a book.

Given all this, I am saddened – but not surprised – that books are challenged and banned. I am so grateful for all the librarians, authors, educators, and readers who celebrate censored books. These are the powerful stories that so often can help us move from cultural and self censorship to celebration.

I cannot wait to get on the road to hear more about what librarians are hearing from their communities about diverse sexuality and gender!


Have you ever asked your local librarian about banned or challenged books in your community?  Let us know what they said!

A Book Can Change A Life

It is my joy and pleasure to be doing this work. I know how much books have changed my life for the better. I see how they have impacted my 6 year old daughter as well. She has pored over It’s Not the Stork (featured on Day 4) for many years now, and always comes up with new and interesting questions for me based on her reading. Books can – and do – change lives.


An Outpouring of Support
We’ve had the great fortune to receive 13 children’s lit and Young Adult books gifted for the Celebration Tour in the past few weeks. I love receiving the private messages with suggested titles to add to our Wishlist, and with the promise of more colorful books, wrapped in lovely brown paper packages, winging their way to our door.

Our goal is to be able to gift at least one book in every state or province that we will visit, for a total of 24 books gifted to public libraries from Austin to Montreal and back again by way of Chicago and St. Louis. With the help of our supporters, we are well on our way to meeting that goal by June 8th.

If we will see you along our route, please check out the Wishlist online, but purchase the book from your local bookstore. We will be happy to pick the book up from you in person during the Celebration Tour!


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Red: A Crayon 's Story

Day 7: Red

DAY 7
Red: A Crayon’s Story
by Michael Hall


With gratitude to Alexis for gifting this powerful, colorful
“story about a crayon I know.”

Alexis dedicates this book to:
Maria – 
for always knowing her true colors.

Many thanks to the author, Michael Hall, for donating an additional
11 hardcover, library-bound copies to Censored2Celebrated!

Watch the video:
Red: It’s about being true.

We will update when & where these generously donated books are
gifted to libraries here.


Day7_Red_Censored2Celebrated_May15_YouTube


From: BookReview.com
Red: A Crayon’s Story

Red is feeling blue. Literally. He can’t understand why nothing he does comes out red. It says ‘Red’ on his label after all, but he just can’t get the hang of it. Nothing he draws is right.

Strawberries are blue. Fire engines are blue. Red ants are … well, blue.

Perfect for kids learning about colour or individuality or being true to oneself or just looking for a story that firmly sits outside the square, this is entertaining as it is brain-expanding. I particularly enjoyed the gorgeous, naive-style illustrations and Michael Hall’s author voice–hip, current, utterly kid-friendly and dry.

Quirk and colour at its best.

From an interview with the author, Michael Hall, about the power of picture books:

My favorite picture books are the ones that you can revisit over the years and continue to find something new and relevant. I think of picture books as more than a stepping stone to other kinds of reading, but a legitimate form of literature — and art — in their own right. I hope that my books have something in them for all ages. For children, I hope my books will help them broaden their sense of wonder, celebrate their differences, and come to know the power of their imaginations.

On a personal note, I can relate to how the author sees the world (and also bumps into people and things!) as he is also blind in his left eye. Michael Hall notes:

Early on, I became interested in making images that are built to exist on a two-dimensional page rather than using perspective and light and shadow to suggest three dimensions.

Actually, my world is relatively flat. I lost the vision in my left eye about fifteen years ago, so my depth perception is lacking. I still occasionally run into people on my left side from time to time.

From the author’s website, here’s a fun video clip about this lovable crayon.


Our Favorite Quote
My family and I really enjoyed this book – it is simply done with a powerful message.

It’s actually hard to find a great quote as the story cleverly interacts with a number of different colored crayons – representing family, friends, teachers – with varying opinions about “Red.”

This book is best when experienced. We hope you get a chance to read and enjoy Red!


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender has been loving this book since she was 3

Day 4: It’s Not the Stork

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DAY 4: May 18th
It’s Not the Stork
by Robie H. Harris (author) & Michael Emberley (illustrator)


With gratitude to Denise Wakeman for donating this book. It has been a life changing book for many – including my own daughters!

Denise writes:
“I’m behind you 100% +Melita Noël Cantú.
Love what you’re doing and look forward to experiencing your journey with you, via blog, photos and video!”


It's Not the Stork

Day 4: It’s Not the Stork

It’s Not the Stork is the first in a trilogy for youth, ages 4, 7 and 10. These books are often used to support the Our Wholes Lives (aka “OWL”) curriculum at UU and UCC churches in the US. I was a student in an early version of this curriculum as a 6th grader. As an adult, I have been trained in the revised curriculum, and have coordinated programs for middle and high school youth in Austin with this curriculum. All of the students in these classes, and my own children have read one or more of this trilogy of books.

While I have noticed some middle school youth express some embarrassment about reading the books, I also noticed that they all came back with questions and insights. Additionally, I clearly remember how so many of the youth – ranging in age from 3 to 17 – all  specifically liked the bird bee characters that flit and buzz throughout each of the books.

Yes, someone has actually made books about “the birds and the bees” fun – and apparently not too corny – for kids and teens. Additionally, this trilogy is a big relief for parents who want a comprehensive book to share with their kids – either for reading together or separately.

Check out this video clip where author Robie Harris is interviewed by a mother of 3 sons:

“If anyone gets upset [about the images],
it’s the adults, not the kids.”
-Robie Harris
(on Michael Emberley’s anatomically specific illustrations)


My Favorite Quote
Bird and Bee Go to the Zoo
Bird: I think I know where babies come from! Maybe the mommy swallows a watermelon seed and it grows so big it grows into a baby!
Bee: It does???
Bird: Or maybe the daddy types on the computer “Send a baby!” And that’s where babies come from.
Bird: Or maybe the stork drops the baby down the chimney and the mommy or daddy catches it.
Bee: Babies DON’T come from the stork do they?
Bird & Bee together: “So where do babies come from?”


Having the Talk Before They Can Talk
One of the reasons this book is often challenged and banned is that some people question if 4 years old is too young to talk with a child about sexuality and gender. I would argue that it’s never too early to start – especially to help the parents get comfortable with this important parenting topic!

Here, a guest From Censored to Celebrated, Remi Newman, MA, talks about some easy ways to approach early childhood sexuality education by Having the Talk Before They Can Talk.

In Parenting Tip #2, Remi suggests:
“Start early when they are babies to increase your
c
omfort level with the topic.
Make it an ongoing conversation.”

Remi Newman Parenting Tip 2- Start Early

Click here for all 5 of Remi’s Parenting Tips.


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

  • Do you have a favorite book that celebrates the Diversity of Sexuality & Gender?
  • Have you read the It’s Not the Stork?
  • Why do you think it’s been challenged so often?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my a-book-a-day blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Change a Life, Donate A Book

A Book Can Change Your Life

How can a book change – or even save – a life?
As my family and I prepare for our Celebration Tour in mid-June, we will be featuring  a book-a-day. Each donated book will be gifted to a library in one of the 25 states and 2 provinces we visit.

The books celebrate themes of Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG), and are all gifted from our incredibly supportive community. Many of these books are gifted in honor of a family member or friend. Books can – and do – change lives.

Laverne Cox says it so clearly when she writes about Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings’ book I Am Jazz:  “I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions.”

Laverne Cox quote about "I Am Jazz"

Like inspiring people, like art, like music, books don’t just change lives – they even save lives.

HRC Research on 10,000 Youth
According to recent ground-breaking research by the Human RIghts Commission, 92% of LGBT youth “say they hear negative messages about being LGBT” mainly from “school, the Internet, and their peers.” 42% of the youth surveyed report that they live in communities that are not accepting of LGBT people. If you would like to hear more in-depth experiences from these youth, watch this video clip from my interview with Amy André, sexuality educator and advocate.

What happens when we counter these harmful, censoring messages by offering gifts of celebration? With words that are freely accessible in every community, but still private enough to access without fear of censorship? Libraries can offer such a safe haven, and books offer such a celebration.

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Join us in celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender!


A Book A Day

Until we head out for our celebratory road trip adventure, I will:

  1. share a donated book-a-day
  2. give gratitude to its donor, and
  3. share a favorite quote

Read all the #aBookaDay posts here.

How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how books have changed – or even saved – your life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!