I was recently given a copy of George written by Alex Gino. I was asked to give my honest opinion and respond to a survey. I liked the book so much that I decided to also write a blog post. I think teachers, parents, and children would benefit from reading this book.
The main character in George is a transgender child who is working to cope with the labels and expectations given by society, though these feel extremely wrong. Hearing the wrong pronoun makes this child feel terrible. The need to correct the speaker boils internally, but what can be done? Will people understand?
Overall, I liked the way this topic was presented and the empathy Gino creates in the story. George would best match late elementary and early middle school readers, though everyone would benefit from the easy to understand explanations within this book.
One potential issue was references to pornographic magazines. Another concern was an up skirt comment which was sexist against males. Those raised with respect for autonomy will not look up another’s skirt. Some parents would be opposed to these topics and may use them as a reason to keep the book from their children. The main ideas of the book would not suffer if the author chose to take out these parts, though I would never insist that authors change their work.
I did enjoy reading George and would allow my children to read it. (Actually, my oldest child already read through 4 chapters.) As with any book that may have controversial topics within, parents should take the opportunity to have an open discussion about topics with their children. I would not use my couple of concerns to withhold this, or any book, from others. I feel there is a need to explain how a transgender child may feel and how to be empathetic to those who are not as society expects them to be. George is a fabulous place to start learning.