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Transgender Characters in Children’s Picture Books

by Janine Schall

10000 Dresses coverAlthough I’ve been interested in children’s books with LGBT characters for over a decade, for a long time that actually meant children’s books with gay or lesbian characters. While picture books with characters who transgress gender roles have been around since the 1970s and picture storybooks with explicitly lesbian and gay characters have been around since 1989, a transgender character wasn’t introduced until 2008 in 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert. Continue reading

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The Implied LGBT Character in Children’s Picture Books

by Janine Schall

In the first two posts of this series, I briefly discussed the history of picture books with LGBT characters and provided a general overview of the representations of the LGBT characters. This week I look at books where the characters are not explicitly named or depicted as LGBT, but where they are portrayed in ways that imply an LGBT sexual orientation.

These books fall into two main groups. The first has characters whose behavior and/or interests are different from the mainstream in ways that can be read as LGBT. Continue reading

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Representations of LGBT Characters in Children’s Picture Books

by Janine Schall

The collection of children’s picture books with LGBT characters began growing steadily when Heather Has Two Mommies (Newman, 1989) was published 25 years ago. With a few books added most years, there are currently over 100 books in this collection, which fall into five general categories: books with lesbian characters, books with gay characters, books with transgender characters, books with implied LGBT characters, and nonfiction books about families which include a gay or lesbian parent. In this categorization system, I have separated the books with lesbian, gay, and transgender characters Continue reading

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Picture Books with LGBT Characters

by Janine Schall

10000 Dresses coverRecent court decisions relating to the legality of same sex marriage and the decision by President Obama to sign an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by federal contractors are the most recent public manifestations of the long struggle for equal rights and treatment of LGBT people in the United States. These political and judicial decisions both result from and drive cultural changes, which are reflected in popular media, literature, and other cultural artifacts. Continue reading

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Story & Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature, Part 4

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

In the past three weeks I’ve shared a number of books set in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) and written by RGV authors. These books feature the culture and traditions of the mostly Latino, working class population in this geographical region along the Texas-Mexico border.

The border is both a physical and mental construct, present in the lives of all RGV citizens. To the south, a physical barrier is formed by the Rio Grande River and the increasingly militaristic presence of customs agents and border patrol. Continue reading

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Story and Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature, Part 3

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas is a place of movement and change. As a Midwestern native now living in the RGV, I joined a history of immigrants to the Valley since the mid-1700s. Today emigration and immigration continues as Americans move to the RGV to pursue business opportunities, Mexicans move for economic opportunity and to flee drug cartel violence, and migrant farm workers harvest crops in the RGV in the winter and travel to other agricultural areas in the summer. Continue reading

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Story & Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

When children see their lives represented in literature, it shows them that those lives are worth representing. This holds special importance when children come from cultures or areas that are historically isolated, overlooked, or oppressed. The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas has been all three. Because of its rural and isolated location, in many ways the RGV has had closer connections with Mexico than with the rest of Texas or the United States. Continue reading

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Story & Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

In 1992 I left my hometown in Indiana and moved 1500 miles away for a teaching job in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas. In doing so, I discovered a unique geographic and cultural region of the United States.

The RGV, informally called the Valley by locals, is located at the southern tip of Texas along the northern bank of the Rio Grande River, which marks the border between Texas and Mexico. It is not actually a valley, but a floodplain. Land developers in the early 20th century called the area “The Magic Valley” in an effort to promote the region to settlers and investors. Originally home to bands of Coahuiltecan Indians, the Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the area in approximately 1750. The area remained under Spanish control until 1836, when it became part of the new Republic of Texas—at least according to the Texans. Continue reading

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