Our Reading Lives

The 6 Unexpected Things I Found in My Small-Town Library

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I recently moved away from a medium-sized liberal Canadian prairie town with a glorious library, complete with Drag Queen Story Hour. In the three years that I lived there, requesting sometimes extremely niche books, they came through for me around every damn corner.

And then I moved here, to this smallish coastal fairly conservative town, and it is very, hmm. Very beige. The library system encompasses us and the next like eight towns over, but fully half the time I’m looking for something by an author of color, or a queer author, or that time my kid was like, ‘Building stuff is a boy thing and wearing dresses is a girl thing’ and I was like HOLD ON I KNOW SOME BOOKS ABOUT THIS, my library comes up empty.


Well here’s our Latinx collection…

But once, as I was headed down a rabbit hole of ‘Similar Reads,’ I came upon a cache of books about raising gender-creative children. There’s like SIX of them! Either someone in the library system is raising a gender-creative child, or somewhere in this town, somebody is vying with me for Most Relentless Library Book Purchase Suggester.

They’re all available right now because that’s the sort of town I live in, which is a bummer but is also great for me because it means I’m about to do some very specific reading. I got two and a half kids I gotta raise in this gross, harshly delineated world (if you ever want to feel really despairing about raising daughters, pick up Cordelia Fine’s excellent but mega depressing Delusions of Gender, which I could not finish, due to it how much it bummed me out).

If you’d like to join me, my library-subsidized reading list is as follows:



Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes – Christia Spears Brown

Gender Born, Gender Made – Raising Healthy Non-Conforming Children – Diane Erensaft

Gender Born, Gender Made – Raising Healthy Non-Conforming Children – Diane Erensaft

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son – Lori Duron

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (this one isn’t about raising children specifically but is a collection of transgender and genderqueer voices)

“You’re In the Wrong Bathroom”: and 20 Other Myths and Misconceptions About Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People – Laura Erickson-Schroth

It’s pleasing and heartening to see these books on the library shelves, but also sort of demoralizing to perk up so high over six books. My library system has a long way to go in terms of breaking out of its Dead White Guys And Sometimes Alive Ones rut, but it is going.

How has your library system surprised you lately?