In 2015, Caitlyn Jenner, a member of the famous Kardashian family, came out publicly as a transgender woman. This changed the public discourse about trans people forever. Suddenly, everyone knew about the existence of trans people and trans visibility became mainstream. While this was controversial at the time, the discourse surrounding her coming out forever changed.
Before this though, there was another major figure in the trans community. Jazz Jennings has done more than most people her age. At the age of 19, she just recently was accepted to Harvard University. Multitalented, she’s known as a reality tv star, YouTuber, charity founder, youth ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign, and author. Her first book, I Am Jazz, written with help from author Jessica Herthel, is a children’s book about her life as a young transgender woman. It’s the perfect book to introduce the complex topic of transgender identity to young children.
1. The illustrations
The drawings in the book are sweet and typical of a children’s book. An important aspect in keeping young kids interested in a story is oftentimes how eye-catching the illustrations are. The book is successful in this way as the illustrations present are cute and colorful.
2. The Descriptions
Concepts addressed in the book are described simply and concisely. Children need things to be explained simply and concisely without being dumbed down, and this book does that.
3. Jazz as a Role Model
Some young people that become well known may not be great role models for children. Jazz is a fine person to look up to, however. From a young age, she has been an activist. Her family owns a foundation and her books and television show have helped bring awareness to transgender life.
The book is structured to encourage discussion. When introducing complicated concepts such as gender identity to young kids, there are going to be a lot of questions. I Am Jazz nurtures this curiosity with a judgment-free narrative and room for added details to be added by a parent.
Jazz is written, as she is in real life, as a normal person who just happens to be transgender. Her interests are written to be relatable, so little girls will be able to identify with her, and by extension, possible transgender classmates.
Understanding concepts like transgender identity can be really difficult, even for adults. Books like this are perfect ways to start young and to encourage increased tolerance in your young children or siblings. Of course, as a parent, you should do more of your own research, but as an introductory tool to start the conversation, this book is perfect.