Aitor Has Two Moms (Aitor Tiene Dos Mamas)

Aitor Has Two Moms book cover art

“Aitor Has Two Moms” is a great children’s book. I read it a while back because it truly piqued my interest. The fact that it is a Spanish book that outwardly speaks on homosexuality is quite groundbreaking. These kinds of books are not very common. Most children-targeted media normally tries to stay in a neutral and non-controversial state. This is especially true for more conservative countries like Spain. I truly appreciate this book because it steps outside boundaries and defies the norm. Additionally, I especially love that it is a book dedicated and targeted to children. I love the idea of exposing children to diversity from a younger age. I believe that if we begin to expose our children from a younger age to such topics, they will grow to be a more open-minded and accepting generation. The book gives great insight into the real struggles of what it is like to grow up with two moms rather than the stereotypically-assumed mom and dad. It was especially interesting to understand how living in a small town factors into how the child’s experience will turn out to be. The book is thought-provoking, even as an adult reader and I can only imagine how much it could positively affect the perspective of a child. This book is also a great resource to a child who has two moms; it is relatable to them and it can give them support when they are going through a bad time. 


Want to read the analysis for Aitor Has To Moms? Click here to check it out.

Interracial Families in Illustrations

Book cover art collage

Growing up, I can remember standing on my mom’s purse (it was a wooden box) to reach the top shelf in the children’s area of Benson Public Library in Omaha, Nebraska. I would sit on her purse and lose all sense of where I was as I became engrossed in a book. My favorite books back then that I can easily recall are Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, just to name a few. What I picked up were books that represented my family: mainly a white mom and/or dad, and kids or animals.   

As a white parent of a child of color, I have an opportunity to incorporate my favorite picture books growing up alongside picture books that represent our interracial family. Children read with both their eyes and ears, and the illustrations within the pages of books can explain more than words can.  

The following are picture books that show what we can only assume are interracial families:   


The Letter Q: A Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves

The Letter Q book cover art

The Letter Q: A Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves is a captivating life changing read. In this book, we have an endless stream of queer writers explore what advice they would give a younger version of themselves. We get to see deep into the lives of what it was like to be different from a young age. Through stories of hardships and self-discovery, The Letter Q gives hope for a better future where one is not only happy with oneself but with those around them. This book brought me to tears multiple times by the vulnerability and transparency of the authors. Each author had separate battles—from mental illnesses to rejection—from their family. As a reader, we get to see hurt be transformed to art and the beauty of self-growth. Reading this book will make you feel like you are time traveling in the past and leave you self-reflecting on your own life. Offering advice from all walks of life, it gives insight to the authors’ secrets and comfort in diversity. Everyone’s journey is unique to themselves regardless of what they identify as. This book is a reminder to young queer teenagers that they are greater than the sum of their experiences.


Want to read the analysis for The Letter Q: A Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves? Click here to check it out.

Helen Keller: Toward the Light

Helen Keller: Toward the Light is one of the many books I’ve read that has left a lasting impact on me. The book follows Helen from childhood up until the end of her life. It highlights major events such as the disease that resulted in her becoming blind and deaf, her difficulties dealing with feeling secluded by the world, her getting accepted into the school for the blind, her raising money to fund passion projects, her influential work throughout the world to bring awareness to the blind and deaf community, etc. One of my favorite parts of the book is when she realized that the kind lady who sometimes scratched figures into her palm was actually teaching her sign language and how to communicate with the outside world. She said herself something along the lines of “My life started that day.” I can’t imagine being isolated from the world in such a debilitating way for so long. I believe she only started learning words at around 7-8 years old. Before that, she was unable to communicate, and her frustration led to her having a “bad attitude” and frequent temper tantrums. Another favorite of mine is when she set her sight onto attending and finishing college. She faced so many challenges as a deaf and blind student but through her perseverance, her amazing support system, and her resiliency, she was not only able to finish college, but to also go on to writing books and learning how to speak so that she could spread her influence worldwide. Helen Keller became an inspiration to me by the second chapter and finishing the book just showed me that impossible is a word that we use to limit ourselves and our capabilities.


Want to see the analysis for Helen Keller: Toward the Light? Click here to check it out.


I’ve had the opportunity to read many of the books that are currently in the DIVerse Families database; one that has stood out to me was Punkzilla by Adam Rapp. This book is about a 14-year-old boy named Jamie, but also known as Punkzilla who is fleeing away from military school to reach his brother who is dying from cancer. The plot was definitely a roller coaster with all kinds of twists and turns adding to the narrative. I enjoyed reading this book because it showed me a new perspective on diversity and gave me clarity on how important the DIVerse Families database was. I feel like representation is very important; seeing yourself represented feels really good and motivating. Growing up, I’ve always gravitated towards books that represented me in some kind of way because I wanted to relate to the storyline. But lately, these past few months I’ve realized that just because a character doesn’t look like me or didn’t grow up in the same background as me, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the book and learn something new. Diversity isn’t just about seeing yourself in media but seeing everyone else as well. Seeing and understanding that people come from all walks of life, and just because they are different from you doesn’t mean their story should go unheard. I enjoyed reading Punkzilla because it was a breath of fresh air from what I’ve always been used to reading in the past. This coming-of-age story touched on multiple topics of diversity from Family Relationships, to LGBT+ topics, to even Disability and Health, and much more. I learned about problems and issues I didn’t even know existed, and for that, I’m very grateful for getting the chance to read this book. I highly recommend for everyone to go check out the book, whether you identify with the character or not, come join Jamie on his adventure to reaching his brother.


Want to read the analysis for Punkzilla? Click here to check it out.

Brooklyn, Burning

Brooklyn, Burning book cover art

I picked up this book because I’m from Brooklyn myself and something about the cover picked at my interest. Throughout the book, the main character’s gender/sexual identity is somewhat hidden. Kid’s parents kicked him out after they found out about his sexuality and he resorts to living on the streets. He finds a guy who offers him a place to stay and he’s perfect to Kid, even with his heroin addiction. Kid loves everything about him and seems to be the only one that understands him really. Fast forward to the summer, Kid is still living on the streets, he’s found a bar whose owner looks out for him sometimes and he has a new love interest: Scout. Scout is an extremely talented singer who also plays guitar to perfection. Kid describes Scout’s music almost lovingly. Kid goes through ups and downs during that time, figuring out whether moving back home should be an option, being banned from the bar because of his age (no worries the owner sets him up with his own little place in the cellar/behind the bar) and most importantly the police accusing him of burning down a warehouse that the kids on the street used to live in. My favorite thing about Kid is his approach to life. Almost everything in this kid’s life falls apart but he still manages to remain calm, funny, and so sweet. Throughout the book, I was amazed at how easily he moved through life despite every bad thing that’s happened to him. Luckily, he finds Scout, falls in love with him and the music, gives him a place to stay and goes as far as organizing a concert for him. Throughout the book, Felix’s faith is shrouded in mystery. Whenever anyone mentions him, there’s a sadness/nostalgia that comes with it. The book is great overall and towards the middle we find out the sad news that Felix killed himself by overdosing on heroin in the very bar Kid still goes to every day. Although I expected a tragedy, it still hit hard, but Kid moved on thanks to his own strength but also through his wonderful support system. I teared up many times while reading this book, but I truly didn’t put it down until I was done.


Want to see the analysis for Brooklyn, Burning? Click here to check it out.

Friends in the Park

Friends in the Park book cover art

One of my favorite books I have read during this project is Friends in the Park by Rochelle Bunnett. This picture book really warmed my heart as I turned the pages. Friends in The Park shows children with various disabilities playing together. One of the children is a wheelchair user; however, he still is playing with all the other children. Another child is depicted to have Down syndrome. This picture book demonstrates that a person’s disability does not restrain them from living a normal life. Although these children have physical disabilities, they are still shown having fun with the other children. The target audience for Bunnett’s book is children in kindergarten to first grade. If young children read this book, it would introduce them to disabilities they may be unaware of. Also, this exposure shows kids that people with disabilities are just like everyone else and should be treated as so. Overall, Friends in The Park is a heartwarming children’s book that I feel is beneficial for young children to read.


Want to see the analysis for Friends in the Park? Click here to check it out.

Gay in America

Gay in America book cover art

During my year and a half working on the DIVerse Families collection, I have read many incredible works showcasing diversity. One in particular that has made a lasting impact on me is a photography book called, Gay in America, with photographs taken by Scott Pasfield. This book encompasses a series of portraits and stories of 140 gay men across all 50 states. The photography book depicts gay men of different races, lifestyles, and careers. By doing so, it shatters the stereotypes that usually surround what being a gay man means and shows them in their reality. One of the most striking things about this book is it’s cover. The cover shows a man named Dan Choi, a former army lieutenant and LGBTQ activist, standing in his military uniform. I’m glad Scott put him on the cover to represent this book because in American society today, there is such terrible discrimination of LGBTQ military service members. This stemming from the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Act from 25 years ago, later repealed, to the transgender ban that is now in effect. This book is real, honest, and doesn’t sugarcoat the ups and downs of what being gay in America means for these men. The series of portraits and stories gave me a realistic view of the lives of gay men in our country, and I hope by others reading this book, it will do the same for them.


Want to see the analysis for Gay in America? Click here to check it out.


Finlater book cover art

Finlater is a book about a boy on the wrong side of the tracks. Reading this book, I found many similarities between Cliffy, the main character, and I. He is a sweet, smart, sensitive, and wonderfully honest boy who, despite his circumstances and his lack of a father figure growing up, still sees the bright side of life while using his gifts to advance himself (he skips a grade in school and is the spelling bee champion). He is himself despite his environment and he manages to find humor in most, if not all, his misfortunes. Cliffy is intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken, and open to trying new things. In racially tense Cincinnati in 1969, he finds himself becoming close to this Jewish boy at school and they affectionately refer to each other as “soul brothers.” As they learn more about each other, Cliffy falls for Noah and vice versa. Through the troubled times at home—Noah’s dad struggling with mental illness and Cliffy’s dad reappearing in his life many years too late without anything to show for it—the two boys still found a way to blossom into their sexuality. Not once did either think less of himself for how they were feeling for each other and Noah, being a little more experienced, eases Cliffy into this new world and watching them fall deeper and deeper for each other is the most beautiful thing. Cliffy’s love for Noah is innocent, full, and honest and Noah loves him back just the same. This book is written by someone who obviously understands his characters well. Each one is well written and perfectly put in perspective. At first, I was wary of the tone and some of the language used in the book, but then I found out that the author himself was black and gay. The author did an awesome job depicting the realness and grittiness of Cliffy’s environment while also sugarcoating it in just the right amount of comedy and lightheartedness. I cried and laughed with Cliffy all the way up until the end.


Want to see the analysis for Finlater? Click here to check it out.

Mariposa Gown

Mariposa Gown book cover art

Mariposa Gown by Rigoberto Gonzales was a great insight into the new era of romantic, coming of age, novels. It was such an interesting twist to the classic teenage romance story that we’ve seen endless times. This novel discussed so many important topics in today’s society. It showcased a gay teenage boy dealing with the idea of leaving for college, as well as several other interesting issues. He is so relatable to many of us who are going through the same process of leaving home and everything we ever knew to seek something greater. He develops a romantic relationship with a boy that he meets the last summer after high school. It was a really heartwarming story of “the first love.” I really enjoyed the life lessons that the narrator continuously mentions throughout the book. It is such an interesting book written upon a brave, humble, charismatic, young man. The book also caught my attention through its captivating subplots. The main character’s best friend is a transgender woman and so we get to see and understand her story as well. There are also moments in which the book gets involved in the life of the main character and his family. This is when we see that there are deep rooted matters about the main character that we also need to be aware of. There is also a specific subplot that explores his sister, which was quite interesting and very enlightening to what the reality of our culture is.


Want to see the analysis for Mariposa Gown? Click here to check it out.