There are very few books, specifically picture books, that explain transgender people to young children. There are even fewer that do so delicately and skillfully. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton boldly takes the reins to explain transgender people to younger audiences in an easy-to-understand and age appropriate manner. The illustrations, by Dougal MacPherson, add tremendous depth to the story. We see the anguish on Tilly the Teddy Bear’s face as she struggles to tell her best friend that she is not a boy teddy, but a girl teddy. The anxiety and sadness are palpable on Tilly’s face and any reader of any age can see the importance of this decision and its impact on her life. The illustrations translate to real life as countless youth make the difficult decision to come out every day.
Children are incredibly perceptive, and they will immediately pick up upon the acceptance and friendship that Errol extends to his teddy bear. His compassion is shown in both the text and the illustrations. Errol is mindful of how his friend is feeling and comes out in full support of Tilly’s true identity. Introducing Teddy teaches children how to empathize and the importance of being there for your friends. These lessons in kindness and consideration are incredibly important, especially as the world continues to grow more diverse.
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