George, by Alex Gino
“Be who you are. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.” (Goodreads)
This book has been awarded a Stonewall Award and a Lambda Literary award. It tells about George, a fourth grade student who everyone thinks is a boy, but who knows she is a girl. Told in a close perspective from George’s point of view, using female pronouns throughout the book, it follows George through a portion of her school year – a very small portion really. But an important one, as she begins to actually share with her family and closest friends her true self.
This book has been banned and challenged because of the main character – a transgender child – and “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”
I loved this book, and I can imagine that it could be powerful for a kid to read it. For kids struggling to be able to express their true selves, regardless of what challenge may be getting in the way of that. And I can’t even begin to imagine how powerful it could be for a child who is struggling with being identified by the gender they were assigned at birth, when they know in their heart that they are not that gender, to be able to read a story about a kid like them.
I came across just a few articles about this book – one from NPR with a talk to Alex Gino, who speaks about the story, how they related to it, and how they would have named it differently now.
“If I were going to name [the book] now, I would not have done that,” Gino says. “Because it is the assigned name, not her chosen name. When I started the book in 2003, the name of the book was Girl George — which was clearly an homage to Boy George. And then when Scholastic got it, one of the first things they did was, they cut off ‘Girl’ because they wanted to open up the audience. And I didn’t even notice, in all of the things that happened, that I have effectively dead-named my main character.”