Rummanah Aasi

Welcome to my new feature called Forbidden Reads! Join me in celebrating our freedom to read. My goal for this feature is to highlight challenged and/or banned books from each literary audience: children, YA, and adult. Not only will I be doing a review of the book, I will also include information as to where and why the book was challenged/banned. Today I'll be reviewing one of the top 10 books most challenged books in 2015 and 2016, I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and .

Description: From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

Review: I am Jazz is an enlightening autobiographical picture book of Jazz Jennings, a transgendered activist. The book is very straightforward, upbeat, and positive. Jazz proclaims in the opening sentences that she has "a girl brain but a boy body" and knew from the time she was two that despite her physical body she wasn't really a boy. Young Jazz was passionate about her love of mermaids, dancing, and dress-up as well as her conviction that her gender identity was female. Readers are taken through her journey including Jazz's family in understanding her real identity as a girl and Jazz's own struggles of being included such as playing soccer on a girl's team. The illustrations are non-explicit, pink-hued watercolor illustrations that are a good complement to the cheerful tone and positive message of the story. Though defining transgendered simplistically, the book does introduce readers to a new concept and to embrace and value differences.

Rating: 4 stars

Why it was challenged: This children’s picture book memoir was challenged and removed because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints. 

I can see how this book can be a shock to parents who may feel uncomfortable about approaching this subject with their children, but it I don't see why the conversation can't happen at this age. I am Jazz teaches empathy, acceptance, and diversity.

Words of Caution: None.

If you like this book try: Jacob's New Dress by Ian and Sarah Hoffman, Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by
3 Responses
  1. Jazz is doing wonders in making the transgender experiences common knowledge for the general public.

  2. I can see why it was banned (I'm not agreeing) and that is too bad. I think it could help a lot of kids understand who aren't transgendered too.

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    Thank you for your thoughts and feelings on this, it is interesting what is and isn't banned. I don't see a problem having books like this for those that are interested or need it and as long as it isn't being pushed onto someone to read it, then I can't see why it should be banned.

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