We have officially had our book club running for a year! Our online version started earlier than this but this last one was our twelfth session! This is super exciting and we are so happy we are growing and people are enjoying it as much as we are. We had such a fab little evening with regular book club goers and some newcomers too! The book was George by Alex Gino, a middle grade book about a transgender girl wanting to be seen as a girl by others too.
The first thing we always do after introductions is ask for everyone’s rating of the book that month if they have read it. Just over half the group had read it and everyone gave it 4 stars apart from me – I gave it 4 and a half. We all agreed it was very accessible in terms of how it is written and the storyline itself. It is such a sweet, heartwarming little story with very realistic feeling relationships.
Many of us enjoyed the fact that it begins with us knowing that George identifies as a girl. We as the readers go straight into it knowing this is how George refers to herself and wishes others to refer to her. This is something everyone seemed to really like, especially in terms of it being a middle grade book. It is more simplified for children in this way and a child would go straight into reading it knowing how to refer to George and seeing the way George struggles telling others.
We had a huge chat about schools slowly becoming more inclusive with their book choices for kids and how kids books in general are becoming more inclusive too. It’s a positive step in the right direction as gender and sexuality should not be seen as an explicit topic for adults only.
I mentioned that I’d love to know what children think of books like George. Adults are often so judgemental about the books their children are reading/media they are consuming (which I certainly agree with with certain topics and content!) but children are often much more open minded and less negatively judgemental. It would be great to hear opinions from all ages about this book and others similar.
So often, LGBTQ+ topics are avoided being spoke about to children as it is seen as solely an adult/explicit topic. We spoke about how a few of us think this is often to do with how most LGBTQ+ spaces that people know of in the mainstream are nightclubs and not child or family friendly spaces. Thankfully, it feels like this attitude is changing in our society now and media and books are such a huge part to play in this.
It is interesting that most progression in terms of LGBTQ+ stories is made in YA and now more so middle grade and children’s books as opposed to mainstream adult fiction. Of course, there is adult fiction out there which focuses on LGBTQ+ identities or stories but there seems to be much, much more progression in books aimed at younger people.
In terms of the characters, Kelly was one of the overwhelming favourites. Although initially she didn’t quite understand, she accepted that George was a girl very quickly. She then completely encouraged her and wanted her to be happy doing whatever she wanted. It was so lovely to read! George was lovely and although nervous she knew what she wanted and tried to stand up for herself often. The headteacher was seen as being accepting too and although she didn’t outrightly ask George anything, she did let her know that her door was always open for a chat. George’s family was also excellently written and the relationships with her mum and brother felt really real.
Our book club next month is a little different! First off, the meeting will be held on Friday the 29th March instead of the last Thursday of the month. Our March book is the PROUD Anthology, edited by the queen that is Juno Dawson. We are hosting a read along with this book however, which runs from the 11th – 22nd March. We will be reading one story a day so it would be wonderful if you wanted to join us for this!