Jack (Not Jackie)

by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Holly Hatam

“You’ve got to be you or you won’t be happy!” bellowed a first grade student eager to share her thinking with the class. Her enthusiasm and conviction were as evident as the message of this fantastic children’s book.

Students from kindergarten through second grade easily understood this book’s message and it’s importance. They advocated for Jack and wondered how his sister, SuSu, didn’t understand his need to be accepted for who he is. It was truly joyful to hear kids express their thoughts about the book and its characters.

Surprisingly, the students in each of these classrooms didn’t see this book as being just about gender identity. Rather they saw it as being about the human existence – our need to be accepted for who we really are. Any of our adult concerns and apprehension about this topic were not at all shared by these young, insightful students.

The unexpected outcome of reading Jack (Not Jackie) aloud was that this story brought teachers to tears. Tears for the children, adults, families, and friends who face discrimation and bullying because of their gender identity.

Erica Silverman and Holly Hatam have created a truly beautiful book which is an essential addition to classroom and school libraries in schools striving to create inclusive, welcoming environments. All students deserve to see themselves in the strong, postive characters found the books we share.

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