Friday, January 8, 2021

They, She, He Easy as ABC - Inclusive Pronouns Help Readers Re-Wire Their Expectations About The Gender of Someone They've Just Met (A Picture Book I Definitely Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a Little Kid!)

They, She, He Easy as ABC by Maya Gonzalez + Matthew SG

Maya puts it beautifully in the book's back matter:
"...we love to sing they." One way we can make more room to include everybody is by learning the power of They! They is a great word. It can mean many people or just one and has been used for hundreds of years. When we don't know someone we can begin with they. This way we're not making guesses about who they are. We are leaving room for them to be themself. For example, "Look at that kid dancing. They are amazing!" If you meet that amazing dancer, they'll probably tell you their name and you'll learn from them which pronoun or pronouns they use to best express the spirit of who they are."
The power of this book really hit me on "H" - because each character is illustrated in joyously unique ways that don't necessarily telegraph their gender, I found myself looking at the names to try to guess the pronoun before reading it... 

on H, I read:
"Harvey's heart beats happily..." 
and I was all confident I had this one, but then the next line was 
 "hip hop makes her flow." 

And I got the whole point of this pretty and powerful book! 

One of the interior spreads

Here's the publisher's description:
They, She, He easy as ABC shows that including everyone is all part of the dance. It’s easy. It’s fundamental. As the dance begins the kids proclaim, “No one left out and everyone free,” in a sing-song rhyme about inclusion. This sets the stage for readers to meet 26 kids showing us their dance moves.

Fast-paced rhyming keeps the flow of text upbeat and rhythmic, and naturally models how to use a wide range of pronouns. There’s no room for stereotypes on THIS dance floor with spirited imagery that keeps names, clothes, hair and behavior fresh and diverse. The combination creates a playful and effortless practice to expand ideas about gender while learning the alphabet and makes being inclusive as easy as A-B-C.
I received a copy of this title from the publisher to review. Add your review of "They, She, He Easy as ABC" in comments!


KarolinaS said...

Wow! This sounds amazing! And you're the perfect person to review it.

Wil Whimsey said...

It looks like a marvelous book. Thanks for reviewing it.

One of the challenges with any moment in the evolution of language is the old guard getting used to the new way old words can be used to better communicate ideas. I have to confess that I am one of those finding it challenging to get used to the idea of "They" being used to describe one person. In my head it is a pronoun to describe plurality. So my head does a little trip-up every time I hear/read it used in the new sense. I realize there is an informal past usage to indicate an alternate to "he" or "she". The mental hiccup has nothing to do with a lack of support for those who do not fit into society's gender stereotypes. I fully embrace and celebrate those who are courageous enough to be themselves. It is simply a matter of getting used to the new usage of the word. Like getting used to "troop" meaning one soldier instead of a troop of soldiers. Language is constantly changing. Living things change.

This is why books like this are important. Society as a whole simply needs exposure to new language usage so that it becomes comfortable in the minds of the larger populace. Learning often involves repetition even when the learner welcomes the new information.

Thanks for bringing more attention to this book.

Unknown said...

I have put it on my wish list!