I Am Jazz (Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings)

Banned Books Week Day 7: Hello, everyone! Tonight, we wrap up Banned Books Week with I Am Jazz, written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas, the true story of a very special girl and her journey to being her true self.

Jazz is a little girl who loves pink, mermaids, and playing with her friends. Jazz is different though; she was born with a girl brain, but a boy body. For much of her childhood, her family and friends would dress her as and call her a boy. Jazz didn’t like it, because pretending to be a boy felt like lying. One day, her parents took her to a doctor and found out that Jazz was transgender. Her parents told her that they didn’t care if she was a girl or boy; they loved her no matter what. So Jazz began to live as the girl she is inside, and while some people are confused or tease her, she’s much happier being who she truly is.

I Am Jazz was released last year, and immediately shot to the #3 position of the most banned and challenged books in the US. It was removed from schools due to complaints of “promoting homosexuality, discussing sexual education, offending religious viewpoints, being unsuitable for age group, and being inaccurate.”

This reception is tragic, because it is such a wonderful book. It’s written from the viewpoint of an actual transgender youth, giving it an authenticity that other books on the subject lack. Having a resource for children that can help them answer questions about themselves or others who are struggling with their gender identity is essential, and this book provides that.

In addition, I Am Jazz is a sweet story that is fun to read and beautifully illustrated. The length might be pushing it for some baby bookworms, but JJ sat through it happily, so I would definitely recommend giving this important book a read. Baby Bookworm approved!