I dream of bringing new, more representative, children's literature to the world

Dawn Arteaga
Posted March 8, 2018 from United States
Representation matters -- especially in children's books

I have always loved children's books. Even before I had little people in my house, I collected children's books. They are my art collection, my most prized possessions.

So it was natural when my child, who was assigned "male" at birth showed interest in wearing dresses, l started hunting down children's books about other kids with equally creative explorations. And when my child asked for a name change and to use she/her pronouns, my hunt for books expanded. We now have a beautiful library of books about children from all walks of life expressing identity and gender in their own beautiful and unique ways.

But there is one thing every single book is missing.

I have yet to find a children's book about a gender-creative or transgender child that isn't about that very topic: gender. And most of them include a healthy portion of bullying too. The books all feel like they come from the perspective of looking at transgender and gender creative people as "different" and explaining what makes them that way and how "we" the majority should treat them with respect. Those books are valuable and vitally important. But they aren't enough. I want a book about a transgender person just living life, loving and existing in a world where their gender identity or expression is not their central narrative.

So since I have yet to find it, I've decided to write it.

Even as I write those words I feel a lump in my throat growing. The fear of writing a book is huge for me. I've cherished children's books for so long, idolized so many authors -- you should see what a ridiculous fan girl I turn into at the book festival every year. This dream scares me. But it won't go away.

My daughter inspires me. And she deserves to have great literature to read about brave people like her. Yes, it's true that she's brave because she isn't afraid to live her truth. She has boldly claimed an identity that many in society reject. But more than that, she's brave and beautiful because of the thousands of other aspects about her that make her who she is. Her gender identity is one small part about her. And as her mom, I long for everyone who interacts with her to see all the amazing things about her that have nothing to do with her gender identity.

So I'm writing a book. Not about my daughter, but about a little one inspired by her. Who lives life, has adventures, has superpowers -- oh and also happens to be transgender.

I've been dreaming of this for so long, and this is the first time I'm telling anyone besides my immediate family and my closest friends. I talked to my daughter this morning and she gave me approval to share with you, lovely World Pulse community, this is my dream.

I hope on International Women's Day next year to (maybe!) be able to share my book with you. 

This story was submitted in response to You Are a Silence Breaker.

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

OMG, Dawn. Do it!!!! This is so awesome. You already have the concept and the outline, now just baby steps. Let me know if you need more encouragement. I'll gladly help. Your book, voice and perspective sound like it is so needed. Can't wait to hear more about it and for it to be published.

Dawn Arteaga
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Jill you know just how to bring a smile to my face. Thank you!! I appreciate your encouragement so much and will definitely keep you posted how it goes.

Jill Langhus
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

You're most welcome:) Yay. Woo-hoo. Very exciting!

Molly Gates
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Thank you for sharing this brave and inspiring dream. All people need to have representation. It is not only important for individuals, but is also so critical for our universal understanding of the shared human experience. I look forward to reading your book to my son!

Dawn Arteaga
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Thank you Molly that means a LOT!

Corine Milano
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Dawn, this is so great! YAY! I'm so excited for you — and for all the kids who will benefit from this!

Dawn Arteaga
Mar 09, 2018
Mar 09, 2018

Thanks Corine!

Ayako Ezaki
Mar 09, 2018
Mar 09, 2018

Thank you for sharing your dream! I'm a mom of two little people who are growing up bi-cultural, so the theme of diversity in children's books is really close to my heart. I'm also in search of quality children's books with diverse characters that are not about how "different" they are, but about their stories, so your book concept resonates with me - and I know for sure with many other parents. Looking forward to your updates on the book project. Please do share your experience working on the book and of course let us all know once it's published!

Jensine Larsen
Mar 11, 2018
Mar 11, 2018

I can't wait to read it! This gives me goosebumps - it must exist. And, it sounds like you have your first wave of test readers under your roof! Go Dawn!

Sabah Khan
Oct 18, 2018
Oct 18, 2018

This is awesome Dawn! Have you read Shals Mahajan? She co authored no Outlaws in the Gender Galaxy and also written the delightful Timmi in Tangles for children. You can find her on fb.
I look forward to your book :) All the best!