Rondo resident Celeste Finn has written “As I Am,” a children’s picture book notable for being one of the only children’s picture books with a nonbinary protagonist. It was written to provide children with stories beyond the gender binary and includes a 24-page guide to help caregivers navigate conversations with children about gender. “As I Am” was written and then funded through Kickstarter. Profits will go towards nurturing gender-affirming early childhood classrooms and donating books to schools and libraries.
“Discussing gender with young children is critically important,” observes Finn. “Gender rules are adopted by children when they are three, four and five, and studies show gender discrimination begins in preschool. Rigid gender expectations peak when children are five and children begin enforcing gender expectations onto each other; this makes authentic gender expression dangerous for some and toxic for many children in most early childhood settings. Gender beliefs adopted in childhood continue to inform beliefs as children become adults, causing transphobia, sexism, and other forms of gender oppression to continue into the next generation”.
“As I Am” makes conversations about gender accessible and meaningful to caregivers and children while providing greater diversity of gender representation in children’s picture books.
Finn said, “Picture books are some of the most impactful stories told in society. They are powerful tools for building community. Stories shape a child’s identity, worldview, and sense of belonging. I hope that we can nurture more affirming, accepting, and loving communities by offering more diverse stories to children.”
Finn hopes to help families and educators by providing this heartwarming story about belonging to nurture gender-affirming communities. As I Am was published on Dec. 9, 2022. Learn more at: www.asiamstory.com.
Finn has her Master of Arts in Teaching and has been an educator for 14 years. She has taught in places as varied as a roadless village in Nepal, a sprawling international school in China, and a preschool on Harvard’s campus. Finn’s work as an educator is rooted in the belief that education is the most effective catalyst for evolutionary change, and that early childhood education is the most critically important education people ever receive. To that end, she believes anti-bias and anti-racist practices are essential to every classroom. Finn is also founder of Big Wonder, an early childhood center that will open in Saint Paul.
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