Today we are excited to celebrate the release of Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman! In this sweet and refreshing story, a young boy wants to wear a sparkly skirt like his older sister – but can boys wear sparkles? Sparkle Boy speaks to us all about acceptance, respect, and the simple freedom to be yourself!
In the guest post below, Sparkle Boy author Lesléa Newman (Heather Has Two Mommies) shares with us why she felt passionate about writing this book, and what she hopes it can teach us:
If there was nothing to rebel against and nothing to conform to, who would you be?
I don’t remember when I first heard this question, but it has always stayed with me. What would the world be like if all of us were free to be our unique authentic selves?
That’s the central idea behind Sparkle Boy. Casey is discovering who he is: a little boy who likes shimmery, glittery, sparkly things. He is too young to know that our culture has deemed these things “girly.” All he knows is what he is attracted to. All he knows is what brings him joy.
I was inspired to write Sparkle Boy after participating in Family Week in Provincetown, MA. One afternoon, I saw a little boy in a rainbow tutu twirling and laughing and having the time of his life. One of his parents said to me, “I wish he could dress like that every day of the year.” I thought of a friend I had recently visited in San Francisco. One morning, I emerged from his guest room and was greeted by a vision of loveliness: My friend, a large, burly man, was perched on a kitchen stool chatting on the phone. He wore a floor-length yellow negligee and matching sheer peignoir. When he saw me, he gave me a little wave and a big smile. I smiled and waved back, honored that he felt safe enough with me to be completely himself. I also felt very protective of him. There was a reason he dressed like this only in the privacy of his home.
I hope Sparkle Boy will help create a world in which all “sparkle boys” can dress however they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. It is terrible to have to choose between being safe and being yourself. No child or adult should ever have to make that choice.
Children are not born with preconceived notions about gender. Those ideas have to be taught. And then they have to be untaught. Children innately accept, respect, and celebrate diversity. It is the adults who give them subtle and not-so-subtle messages that there is only one way to be. There are as many ways to be as there are people in this world. I eagerly await the day when we are all treasured and cherished for being exactly who we are.
Purchase a copy of Sparkle Boy here!
About the Author: Lesléa Newman is the author of seventy books for readers of all ages. She has received numerous awards for her work, including two Stonewall Book Award Honors and a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Newman is also a popular presenter at conferences, libraries, and schools. She wrote this story to celebrate all the “sparkle boys” who brighten the world. She lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with her spouse, Mary Grace Vazquez. Learn about Newman’s children’s books at lesleakids.com.