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PLP: Providing Free Children’s Literature to Educators

Pride and Less Prejudice (PLP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to create more inclusive classrooms by way of children’s literature. We send LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books to educators in preschool through third grade classrooms in the US for free. All educators need to do to receive books is fill out a brief request form on our website, where they can choose two of approximately 15 books. After a vetting process to ensure they are an educator, we send the chosen books to them for free so the children in their classrooms can “read out loud, read out proud.” Each year we choose new books to use.


Inclusive literature is a powerful tool in creating spaces where students and young children feel safe, accepted, and valued. A sense of belonging is the foundation for learning; nobody can do their best learning if they lack a secure base from which to venture. All too often, children from queer families, children who know they are queer, or children who may not understand their identity yet but will grow up to identify within the queer community, are left out of the conversation in school settings. When they see that their teacher (or counselor, librarian, or other school staff) has chosen to add inclusive literature to their collection, they will almost automatically feel more seen. Inclusive literature is many things; it is a symbol of allyship and a message of support. It is a reflection of who children are and the diverse identities and backgrounds they bring to the classroom. It is an opportunity for dialogue, growth, and understanding about themselves and the peers who surround them. Ultimately, inclusive literature can be a lifeline.  



We at PLP know that identity is made up of far more pieces than queerness. That’s why our chosen books feature characters with diverse, intersectional identities, who come from various family structures and diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, who have various abilities and languages. It is our goal for every child to feel comfortable, safe, seen, confident, accepted, celebrated, and valued for exactly who they are when they are at school. We know that books will not single handedly or immediately change the issues we have in the larger world. However, if today’s children grow up with more representation of who they are and who they can grow to be, and if today’s children grow up in a world where queer identities are normalized through representation, we are setting ourselves up for a safer, more peaceful, and more just world. We strive for both immediate and long-term change, one book at a time.

 

PLP does more than provide free literature; we also provide myriad free resources for educators including teaching guides, professional development workshops, author read alouds, and a blog that often features teachers’ reflections about using and implementing PLP’’s books. Any educator, particularly those who want to be more inclusive but may not yet know how to talk about queer topics and issues with young children, can benefit from any of these resources. The more teachers we can help, the more children we can reach. Feel free to check out the whole list of books PLP has used in past years here. If you are an educator in a preschool through third grade classroom and would like to request books, here are this year’s offerings

 

Here are just some of PLP’s chosen books: 

All are Welcome: written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

All are Welcome follows a classroom full of children with many identities, strengths, and talents. No matter how anyone learns, where they are from, how they identify, or what they like to do, everyone is welcome and is part of the community. Its rhyming structure makes it feel playful, fun, and engaging.

Kapaemahu: written by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, and Joe Wilson and illustrated by Daniel Sousa

Kapaemahu tells the Hawaiian story of four mahu – individuals of dual male and female spirit – who brought healing arts to from Tahiti to Hawaii. Native Hawaiians built a monument of four stones to honor them, and in turn they imbued the stone with healing powers. Over time, as foreigners arrived on the island and build on native lands, the stones are forgotten. It is a beautiful, and sad, tale of the power of mahu and the native Hawaiian community.

My Maddy: written by Gayle E. Pitman and illustrated by Violet Tobacco

My Maddy is the story of a young child’s relationship with their parent. It is one of the first of its kind as a picture book featuring a nonbinary parent. It is about the comfort and beauty of the “in between” or “outside,” and all the aspects of life that live in the space outside any given “either/or.”

One of a Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo: written by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo, and translated by Teresa Mlawer

One of a Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo is the story of a young boy who wishes to dress up as a princess for his school’s parade. His mother runs to the store with him and together they try to find the clothing and materials to make this wish come true.

When Aidan Became a Brother / Cómo Aidan Llegó A Ser Un Hermano: Written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

When Aidan Became a Brother / Cómo Aidan Llegó A Ser Un Hermano is the story of a young boy who everyone has always thought is a girl. When Aiden tells his parents who he really is, they work together to understand one another and make changes that will make him feel happier and more comfortable. When he learns that he is going to have a baby sibling, the family learns together from their experience and strives to create a home where the new baby will simply be loved for whoever they turn out to be, without expectations of behaving in certain ways or liking certain things just because of their perceived gender.

A Song for the Unsung: Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the 1963 March on Washington: written by Rob Sanders and Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Byron McCray

A Song for the Unsung tells the story of Bayard Rustin, a significantly under-recognized leader of the civil rights movement who often had to lead from behind the scenes because he was gay. It emphasizes how important and relevant intersectionality is, and tells much of the story through songs. The beautiful illustrations help to bring the history off the page.

Aaron Slater and the Sneaky Snake: written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

Aaron Slater and the Sneaky Snake is the latest installment in a series called The Questioneers. Some of the books in the series are picture books, but this one is a chapter book. While Aaron and his friends are at the zoo, they see a minor incident with a snake, which is blown far out of proportion by many of the adults in the town – who want to ban the snake exhibit altogether. Aaron and his friends must take the lead in convincing the town to keep the snake exhibit.


Dani Glass is a preschool teacher in Chicago, IL. Their passions in early childhood education (and life!) include outdoor education, literacy, and storytelling with children. Outside of the classroom, Dani can typically be found hiking, walking in nature preserves, or curled up with a book! Their role in PLP includes coordinating the organization’s blog, grant writing, and interviewing authors for the “Meet the Author” series. 


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