June marks the celebrations of a number of events commemorating release from historic oppressions that come with the need to keep newfound respect alive. Juneteenth, for one, marks the news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaching African Americans whose slave holders failed to pass along the news when Abraham Lincoln first signed the law. Teens can download for free and to keep the audiobook of W. E. B. DuBois’s classic The Souls of Black Folks through June 21 to hear about this period, as well as the period of Reconstruction, from the viewpoint of an African American Harvard scholar. This free audiobook, and another this week and two more each week through August 17, come courtesy of AudioFile Magazine. You can visit the program’s AudiobookSYNC site for full information.
Barefoot Books celebrates inclusivity with Baby’s First Words, a board book that follows one busy baby and her two dads through a day full of exploration. Also available in Spanish as Mis primeras palabras, this title by Christiane Engel introduces younger audiences to a variety of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and phrases, giving a new spin to a classic first word book.
Jessica Spanyol, author-illustrator of Child’s Play’s Clive series, offers early readers stories that gently challenge gender stereotypes. In these board books, Clive, a little boy with a big imagination, spends his days caring for his dolls, adding to his hat and bag collections, and pretending to be a librarian when his friends come over to play.
Child’s Play continues to sensitively handle gender with Quiet!, which pubs this fall. The picture book never designates a gender for its main character, a toddler who explores the range of sounds they hear as their day comes to an end. Auditory landmarks help all children to become familiar with daily routines, and can be particularly important to those who are blind or partially sighted. Inventive and inclusive, Quiet! is great for parents on the hunt for a picture book that doesn’t gender its protagonist.
In We Are Family from Tiger Tales, sweet verse takes you through moments in the life of ten families, celebrating diversity through shared experiences. The families may look different—there is a single parent, a child in a wheelchair, a boy raised by his grandparents, two same-sex couples, and a variety of ethnic backgrounds represented—but through thick and thin, these families are all there for one another.
How Nivi Got Her Names is published by our friends at Inhabit Media and is a valuable exploration of traditional Inuit naming that also touches on Inuit custom adoption. Nivi, her mother Laura, her anaana (mother) Jesse, and their entire extended family are actual people; the picture book includes an introduction from Nivi’s birth mother Aviaq, and short biographies of the people for whom Nivi is named.
In Tilbury House’s Real Sisters Pretend, written by Megan Dowd Lambert and illustrated by Nicole Tadgell, people often mistake Mia and Tayja as friends rather than sisters. Throughout this heartwarming picture book, Mia and Tayja spend the day playing make-believe and are comforted by the fact that adoption has made them and their two moms a “forever family,” and that they will always be sisters, even after playtime is over.
Action Lab Entertainment offers readers another graphic novel adventure from the Princeless universe in Raven: The Pirate Princess, Book Three. After a violent confrontation on the Island of the Free Women, Raven and her crew are badly beaten, with one of their own near death. As Raven risks her life to find a legendary healer who may be able to save Ximena before it’s too late, her unspoken love for Ximena propels her onward.
Princess Princess Ever After is all about girl power and flipping gender stereotypes on their head. From author-illustrator Katie O’Neill and Oni Press, this middle grade graphic novel follows princesses Sadie and Amira as they join forces to bring out the very best in one another and perhaps find a happily ever after together. Did we mention there are dancing trolls?
Also coming soon from Katie O’Neill and Oni is The Tea Dragon Society, a graphic novel about discovering the value in tradition and the strength in found families. A warm partnership between the two men who make up the Tea Dragon Society and a touch of flirting between protagonists Greta and Minette make this a great choice for readers looking for heartwarming, smile-inducing representation.
Moon at Nine from Pajama Press tells the story of two girls who dare to dream of a life and future together. Stuck in a world that sees their love as a crime, Farrin and Sadira must keep their growing relationship a secret. Written by award-winning author Deborah Ellis, this novel is based on true events that took place in 1980s Iran.