You Be You!

Branfman, Jonathan (Author) and Julie Benbassat (Illustrator). You Be You! The Kid’s Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.

Four children playing with a rainbow parachute.

In this accessibly written and charmingly illustrated guide, children ages 5-11 are introduced to gender identity and expression, sexual and romantic orientation, diverse family structures, and concepts such as discrimination and allyship. The art is colorful and inclusive of all bodies, including size, ethnicity, and dis/ability.

Chapters are brief and can be read out of order, though some concepts do build on previous ones. For example, there are lots of identity words that are defined, and if you start reading at the end of the book, you might not know what some of the words mean. Some concepts are challenging, such as discrimination. But even hard topics are discussed with easy-to-understand definitions and examples.

Some folks might think that concepts like transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, and sexism are too sad or difficult for children to learn about. But plenty of children have to learn these lessons just by being themselves in a world that does not cherish them. Having an understanding of what discrimination is empowers youth to fight against it.

You Be You! teaches youth that they are okay just as they are, that diversity is natural and interesting, and that the right thing to do is to be kind and celebrate, not just accept, diversity. I highly recommend this lovely and important book for all public and elementary school libraries, and for anyone who has a kiddo that is curious about these topics.

You Be You! was on the 2020 Rainbow Book List.

About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, and Legend Tripper
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