Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks

Sarah and the Big Wave by Bonnie Tsui is a wonderful picture book biography that tells the story of Sarah Gerhardt, the first woman to surf Mavericks.

Young readers will learn about Sarah’s journey to become a pioneer for women in surfing, including her challenges, such as finding gear in the right sizes and finding a welcoming group of friends to share her passion with. Sarah and the Big Wave shares a wonderful lesson of following your passions and persevering through challenges. And of course, this is a great pick for young surfing enthusiasts.

I really love the illustrations by Sophie Diao! The way she captured both the beauty and movement of the ocean was really stunning.

The back matter also contains a wonderful timeline of the history women in surfing from the 1600’s to 2020, making it a great resource for educators.

Sarah and the Big Wave is officially out next week, but you can purchase it anywhere books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Bonnie Tsui is an author and journalist who lives, swims, and surfs in the Bay Area. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at bonnietsui.com.

Sophie Diao is an artist and illustrator based in San Francisco, California. Please visit her website at sophiediao.com to learn more about her and her work.

I also want to thank Henry Holt Books For Young Readers for proving me with a review copy of Sarah and the Big Wave. I loved learning about Sarah, and I’m so glad to share her story with you all.

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Definitely Dominguita – A Fresh Chapter Book Series Inspired By Classic Literature

When I first heard about Definitely Dominguita, the new chapter book series by Terry Catasús Jennings, I knew I had to read it!

Illustrated by Fatima Anaya, each book in this series is inspired by our main character Dominguita’s love of her collection of classic literature; a collection her abuela brought all the way from Cuba and gifted to Dominguita before moving away to Florida. Dominguita misses her abuela, and reads her stories often to feel close to her.

The series begins with Knight of The Cape, where we are introduced Dominguita and her family. We follow her on a journey, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, to prove to a bully at school that girls can be knights too. The adventures continue in the second book, Captain Dom’s Treasure, as we follow Dom and the friends she made in the first book on a treasure hunt inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Now I have to be totally honest with you all: I actually have not read either of the classic titles that inspired Dominguita (Though I did watch Muppet Treasure Island at least a thousand times during childhood. That has to count for something, right?), but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the books at all! While this series will be great for young readers who are already familiar with classics, I believe it will also be a great tool to introduce classics to children who haven’t read them yet.

Both Knight of The Cape and Captain Dom’s Treasure are filled with fun adventures, and gently touch on themes like family, friendship, bullying, diversity, and disability without distracting from the story. Dom and her friends are a lovable group of kids that I’m sure many readers will relate to. I absolutely adored this series and I would highly recommend it to any adventurous young readers.

Both Knight of The Cape and Captain Dom’s Treasure are available now, and the third book in the series, All For One (Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers), will be available in August, but can be preordered today. You can look for them wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

I will also be hosting a giveaway for both Knight of The Cape and Captain Dom’s Treasure over on Instagram, so be sure to enter!

Terry Catasús Jennings is an award-winning author who ‘s family moved from Cuba to the United States when she was eleven. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at terrycjennings.com.

Fatima Anaya is a graphic designer and illustrator who loves working on projects about diversity, family, love, and friendship. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at fatimaanaya.com.

I would like to thank Blue Slip Media and Aladdin/Simon and Schuster for kindly providing me with review copies. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about Dom’s adventures, and am so glad to be able to share them.

Rainbow Boy – A Picture Book To Challenge Gender Stereotypes About Colors

I am beyond thrilled to share Rainbow Boy by Taylor Rouanzion with you all today, because it’s the perfect pick to discuss something that has been weighing on my heart a bit lately.

Last week, I was speaking to someone I love very much, and she told me that her son (who is expecting a child) “would not let” the child have a yellow blanket if it is a boy. Yellow. The color of taxis, bananas, ducklings, and lemons. Not appropriate for a boy? I was floored. I couldn’t help but hope his child arrives and challenges every notion this man has about gender.

This is, of course, just one example of the ways we put our children into boxes before they are even born. If we offer or refuse things like books, toys, clothes, and colors according to our child’s assigned gender, we are not only limiting their horizons, but reinforcing harmful stereotypes that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Books like Rainbow Boy are the perfect way to challenge these stereotypes at a young age.

This lovely picture book introduces us to a young boy who is often asked “What’s your favorite color?” As a former child who also hated this question, I love our young narrator’s answer. He tells us how much he loves every color in the rainbow, and how he has a new favorite for every day of the week.

Rainbow Boy was one of my most anticipated titles of 2021, and it did not disappoint. This is a great book to teach the youngest readers about colors and the days of the week, but it also presents an opportunity to have deeper conversations about gender. Rainbow Boy provides the perfect example of a young boy who loves pink or blue, and dolls or basketball. His interest are his own and are not based on society’s expectations for him.

The gorgeous illustrations from Stacey Chomiak capture our Rainbow Boy’s personality and imagination in such a fun way. And of course, the colors are stunning.

You can grab your own copy of Rainbow Boy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Taylor Rouanzion is a children’s book author who was inspired to write to ensure children like her gender non-conforming child can see themselves in the books they read. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at taylorrouanzion.com.

Stacey Chomiak is an artist and illustrator who identifies as a gay Christian and loves to advocate to the LGBTQ community. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at staceychomiak.wixsite.com.

I would like to thank Beaming Books for providing me with a review copy of this amazing book. I can’t wait to add it to my arsenal of supportive books to teach my son to unapologetically love the things he loves, even when the world tells them they are not for him.

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A Girl’s Bill Of Rights – An Empowering Picture Book About Human Rights

Happy Galentine’s Day Everyone!

Galentine’s Day is the brilliant creation of Leslie Knope, a lovable character on the show Parks and Rec. While the horrible behavior of two actors on the show may have ruined re-watching the show for me, I won’t let them take away Galentine’s Day. Galentine’s Day comes every year on the day before Valentine’s Day, and it’s a day dedicated to showing your love for all the women and girls in your life that support you day to day. So in the spirit of celebrating women, I want to share A Girl’s Bill Of Rights by Amy Mucha with you all.

This picture book is all about girls standing up for their right to confidence, freedom, and consent. A Girl’s Bill Of Rights reads a bit like a lyrical affirmation, and to be honest, it has a few lines I should probably be speaking into the mirror every once in a while. This book pushes back on the many societal expectations women, girls, and other femmes are faced with, like the pressure to avoid making people “uncomfortable” with your feelings, or to shy away from being proud of your achievements.

Despite the depth of the subject matter, the illustrations by Addy Rivera Sonda are so fun, and I love that they depict such a diverse cast of characters.

I also love that A Girl’s Bill Of Rights can be used to teach children both how they deserve to be treated, and how they should be treating others. While this is a great book for encouraging girls to stand up for themselves and speak up about how they feel, I think it is an equally important read for boys. I can’t wait to start reading this book to my son so he will know from an early age how I expect him to treat women.

If you’re looking for an empowering book to introduce human rights, I would highly recommend A Girl’s Bill of Rights. It is available now wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Amy Mucha is a children’s book author based in Chapel Hill, NC who is passionate about empowering women and girls. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at amybmucha.com.

Addy Rivera Sonda is an illustrator, animal lover, vegan, and avid activist in various animal rights groups like Animal Save, Anti-Speciesist Action, and Casa Animal “Animal House”. To learn more abotu her and her work, please visit her website at addyriverasonda.wixsite.com.

Thank you so much to Beaming Books for sending me a review copy of A Girl’s Bill of Rights. It was an absolute delight to read!

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I Am A Kindness Hero – A New Kind Of Role Model For Boys

As a mother who has a son, I’m always on the lookout for picture books encouraging kindness and gentleness, especially “for boys”.

This isn’t because my son is particularly unkind, or because I think boys in general have a tendency to be unkind, but rather that I believe society doesn’t expect kindness from boys in the same way we expect it from young girls.

While my husband and I do not buy into gender stereotypes, I am very aware that the world will tell my son all about the dangers of being “soft”. He has lived a pretty secluded first year thanks to COVID, so there’s no one to tell him he shouldn’t gently hug his stuffed animals and make that sweet little “MMmm” sound. However, I know the day is coming when those kinds of behaviors will be ridiculed because they don’t mirror societal expectations of masculinity.

To get ahead of this negative message, we love a book that provides positive examples of boys being tender. I Am A Kindness Hero by Jennifer Adams depicts this role model perfectly.

A companion to I Am A Warrior Goddess, this book follows a young boy practicing kindness. Whether he is helping someone cross the street, standing up to bullies on the playground, or just helping his little sister tie her shoe, our main character reminds us to lead with patience, love, and kindness.

The illustrations by Carme Lemniscates are fantastic. I especially love the warmth of the colors, and how they mirror the warmth we associate with kindness.

I would highly recommend this book for any young reader, because its message is truly universal. I don’t believe the world can ever have too much kindness.

I Am A Kindness Hero will officially be available next week (January 26, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Jennifer Adams is an editor and accomplished author (with 50 books published!) who lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, who is also a writer. You can learn more about her and her work by visiting her website at jennifer-adams.com.

Carme Lemniscates is an author, illustrator, designer, and the founder of Lemniscates Studio. To learn more about her and her work you can visit her website at lemniscates.com.

I would like to thank Sound True for providing me with a review copy of I Am A Kindness Hero. I know I will read this one to my son for many years to come, in hopes it will encourage him to stay sweet and kind forever,

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International Men’s Day – 12 Books for Better Health for Men and Boys

So we’ve all heard of International Women’s Day, but did you know there is also an International Men’s Day? While I don’t agree with all of the ideas of its supporters (some of them give me some strong misogynist vibes), I absolutely agree with this year’s theme: “Better Health For Men and Boys”.

In my last review, I talked about the ridiculous gender stereotypes pushed on all of us from an early age. Today I want to talk about children’s books that focus on some of these societal pressures and the health issues they create for children who feel the pressure of male gender stereotypes.

(Please note: This post does contain affiliate links, from which I receive a small commission. This commission is used to maintain this website and bring you more content.)

Boys Will Be Boys

Society begins teaching children that there are “girl” and “boy” options very early in life. As adults, we all know that colors, baby dolls, soccer balls, and clothes have no gender. But children who are pressured by male gender stereotypes are often bullied for liking things that don’t fall into the “boy” category. We must encourage our children to be themselves, regardless of what “being a boy” means. It’s important not only to support our children in their interests and self expression, but to teach them to support other children who don’t fit into these societal ideas. These three books offer great examples of children who don’t fit into the gender stereotype box. They all open the door to conversations about gender stereotypes and how it’s okay to just be yourself.

Sparkle Boy by Leslie Newman is an absolutely precious book about a boy name Casey who loves all the shimmery, glittery, sparkly things his sister Jessie has. His family lets him wear the sparkly skirt, and Jessie doesn’t feel great about it until she sees someone treat Casey differently for the things he likes.
Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman is all about how colors don’t have genders. While I love the message, I will say this one feels a bit binary, as boys and girls are mentioned as opposites. This makes for a great opportunity to discuss the spectrum of gender, and how it isn’t always so black and white (or pink and blue).
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis is another great example of a book about a boy who doesn’t fit gender norms. This one is told from the perspective of the mother, which is a great way to help children understand the consequences of teasing others. It helps children see that bullying impacts not only the child being bullied, but the people in that child’s life, too.

Boys Don’t Cry

Because emotions are seen as “feminine”, and “feminine” traits are considered “weak”, boys are more likely to suppress their emotions, and to feel shame when they can’t. Suppressing emotions can lead to some serious mental health obstacles, but it also stunts emotional development. I don’t know about you, but I certainly hope my son grows up to be a man who is capable of expressing his emotions (both positive and negative) in a healthy, respectful way. These three books are perfect for helping our children understand that just like our toys, books, and hobbies, emotions have no gender.

The Boy With Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee is a great book to introduce emotions, and help children understand that everyone has them. I really love how the illustrations by Jacob Souva capture each emotion the boy feels!
All About Feelings by Felicity Brooks is a more in-depth discussion of feelings, and has questions on each page to ask your child about their feelings. This one is great to get your child to engage in a conversation and build confidence in expressing their emotions.
Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negly is the perfect book to remind children than men do in fact cry, and it doesn’t make them weak. The illustrations show stereotypically “tough guys”, like superheroes and bikers, crying.

The Strong Silent Type

When children are pressured to avoid weakness, we send the message that they should be strong…at all costs. This stereotype can have serious impacts. This concept can encourage boys and men to avoid doctor’s visits, because they believe they should “tough it out”. This same stereotype can prevent boys from coming forward when they are victims of assault, because society pressures them to “man up”. If we want to raise boys to advocate for themselves when it comes to their bodies, we have to encourage them to speak up. These three books discuss bodies, health, and consent, and they are a great to way to build a child’s confidence in speaking about their health.

Hello World, My Body by Jill McDonald is a great introduction to bodies for children! This board book discuss our bodies and what they do for us in a way that is straightforward and easy for toddlers to understand. Obviously, because this book is for babies and toddlers, it is not an all-encompassing message, but a great foundation to begin open discussions about bodies in your home.
My Body What I Say Goes by Jaynee Sanders is the logical next step in the discussion of bodily autonomy. This book discusses personal body safety, feelings, safe and unsafe touch, private parts, secrets and surprises, consent, and respectful relationships. While this seems like a lot for one book, Sanders manages to explain each of these topics in an age appropriate manner without it feeling overwhelming.
The Fantastic Body by Dr. Howard Bennett is over 200 pages of great information about our body and our health. You won’t be reading this one all at once, but it’s a great resource for children to have to familiarize themselves with anatomy. This one is for an older audience (8-12), and it does discuss the reproductive system and puberty.

Daddy Daycare

Nurturing and raising children is often considered a “woman’s job”. This idea is so pervasive that it is sometimes called “babysitting” when a man actually looks after his own children. This societal pressure can hamper relationships between children and their fathers, often making the father feel like he has to be distant, and leaving the child to wonder why. We need to encourage dads to be nurturers, and teach our children that dads are just as capable of parenting as moms. These three books feature kind, patient, nurturing, and emotional father examples for children to learn these lessons from.

You Made Me a Dad by Laurenne Sala is an amazing book written from a dad’s perspective all about how much his life changed when his child was born. I’m not even going to lie, this book made me cry the first time I read it. Perfect to illustrate to children that dads are just as emotionally invested as moms.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero is a sweet story following Daisy, whose dad always takes her for a ride after he comes home from work. We follow them on their adventure and learn about their community and their love for each other along the way. This one is a great example of a father daughter relationship.

Jabari Jumps by Gail Cornwall is a story about a boy who might be a bit scared to jump off the diving board. His dad is with Jabari and his sister at the pool, and is patient, understanding, and supportive while Jabari finds his courage.

This is obviously not an all-encompassing list of the societal pressures our children face, but I think it’s a decent starting point. While this list is dedicated to masculine gender norms, I think it’s important we read them to all children. Any child can try to enforce these norms on themselves or others if they are not taught to question them.

I hope you enjoyed the list! Did I miss any good ones? What books are you reading to your little ones to encourage them to question societal expectations?

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Dazzling Travis – A Picture Book that Bucks Gender Stereotypes

Can we just talk about gender stereotypes for a bit?

I have always been aware of gender stereotypes for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I found out the sex of my child that I realized how early in our lives society starts putting those pressures on us.

When I was pregnant, the first thing strangers asked me was “Boy or Girl?”. Everyone was quick to tell me how “Boys are more fun.” or “Girls have the best clothes”. Having a child during a time when “gender reveals” are considered the norm, my husband and I got puzzled looks when we revealed…we weren’t having one of those parties.

You see, our family just doesn’t buy into gender stereotypes. For example, my husband does most of the cooking in our home, and I do most of the yard work. We have always just played to our strengths and worked as a team. There are no “women’s job” and “men’s jobs” in this home.

Before I had a child, I always assumed my future children would just see this example and pick it up. But when the gender stereotyping started before he was even born, I realized it wouldn’t be so simple. I would need to actively work to ensure my son knows that his gender has no bearing on his toys, books, or hobbies.

So when I found Dazzling Travis by Hannah Carmona Dias, I knew it had to be on our bookshelf. In this book we meet Travis, who has a wide variety of interest, from dress up to basketball. When Travis is bullied for playing with a doll on the playground, he stands up for himself. He educates his bullies about gender stereotypes in a straightforward way that kids can easily understand.

While the main character is a boy, I love that this book specifically includes girls as well. The adorable illustrations by Brenda Figueroa depict several kids playing with a variety of different toys. The back of the book also has some great examples of people who challenged gender stereotypes, and became their own dazzling selves.

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I think my favorite part of the book is that there are discussion questions on the first page. Six quick questions to ask (two before, two during, and two after) to give children a deeper understanding of the message and foster critical thinking.

This is the perfect book to encourage children to be confident in themselves and embrace the things that make them stand out from others. It’s also a great book to begin conversations about gender norms and how to challenge them.

You can buy Dazzling Travis at my Bookshop page to support both this blog and independent bookstores. (Please note these are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission from purchases made using these links.)

I would like to thank Cardinal Rule Press for providing me with a review copy of this book. I look forward to sharing it with my son for years to come!

Have you and your children read Dazzling Travis yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below and let me know what you though about this one.

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