Body Positive Bookshop: Picture Books

Coming up: I am so excited about this week’s audio newsletter with Tyler Feder, an artist who explores big feelings, feminism and pop culture, and author of the fantastic new children’s book BODIES ARE COOL. You can learn more about Tyler here, and definitely go right ahead and order your copy of her book here. And you don’t want to miss our conversation Thursday, so consider going paid. Tyler describes her process for making the book, and we also chat about making art while in the midst of trauma, and how to preserve in kids that innate sense of wonder and curiosity about bodies. (You know, before the world tells them deviating from the thin ideal is bad.)

As you may have noticed, I love to talk to other authors, and to chat about books more generally in this newsletter. Some of this is purely selfish; writers are my people, and I love to hear about their work and creative processes. Some of this is quite practical because books are often the best way to share new and complicated ideas. We’ve talked about the books your husband (or any other spouse/partner/co-parent) needs to read. And books can also give us the jumping off point we need as parents to start talking about diet culture and fatphobia with our kids, which yes, you need to do early and often (there’s a great book rec in that post, too!).

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make books a bigger part of Burnt Toast. Do I need a dedicated bookshop page? Should we do a monthly book club, as a Thread or even a Zoom event? Or would it be more useful to just get the occasional “here’s a list of great books about X” post (which is what’s coming next)? 

To be clear, most of those ideas would end up being for paid subscribers only because they require more bandwidth to produce. But I’m keeping the comments open to everyone today because I’d love feedback from paid and free list folks alike: How would you like to see books incorporated into Burnt Toast? 

Feel free to chime in on the format idea you like best, but also let me know which kinds of books you’re most looking for, under the broad umbrella of “diet culture, fatphobia and parenting” that I cover here: How-to guides on intuitive eating? Body memoirs from writers in marginalized bodies? Books with fat protagonists for middle grade readers? 

And as thanks for helping me brainstorm this—and in honor of BODIES ARE COOL—here’s a list of my favorite body positive picture books for kids. I’m linking to all of these over on the website of Split Rock Books, my beloved local indie. They ship! (Or find an independent bookstore near you here.)

Books for everyone:

BODIES ARE COOL by Tyler Feder

More about this Thursday, but suffice to say: Any book that celebrates leg hair, chest scars, and fat bellies is a must-have in my family’s library. All ages. 

WE’RE ALL WORKS OF ART by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Rose Blake

A cool introduction to different styles of art and a great metaphor for celebrating body diversity. 

YOUR BODY IS AWESOME by Sigrun Danielsdottir, illustrated by Bjork Bjarkadottir

Celebrates body diversity and introduces kids to the principles of intuitive eating, joyful movement, and self-care. Has sparked so many helpful conversations with my kids.

I AM ENOUGH by Grace Byers, pictures by Keturah A. Bobo

Byers wrote this to empower young girls the effects of bullying, but the language is gender-neutral and relevant for all kids. 

DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR! By Sharee Miller

Aria is a Black girl with amazing hair, but she’s tired of people touching it without her permission. A fantastic introduction to the concepts of consent, personal space and boundaries.

CONSENT (FOR KIDS!) by Rachel Brian

Such a useful and empowering introduction to concepts like body autonomy, boundaries, and what to do if someone tries to touch you in the wrong way.

Books for girls:

LOVE YOUR BODY by Jessica Sanders

Aimed at girls and those who identify as girls, this book talks about the process of loving your body as it changes in a way that’s super accessible for kids ages 8 and up to navigate on their own, or even earlier with the support of a grown-up. 

JUST LIKE ME by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Gorgeous illustrations and empowering poems about girlhood. (Note: There is one poem that talks about choosing carrots over cookies that I always skim past.)

HER BODY CAN by Ady Meschke and Katie Crenshaw

Sweet illustrations and rhymes. Great for extra little ones.

Great books for gender creative/non-conforming kids:

(And everyone else, too!)

IT FEELS GOOD TO BE YOURSELF by Theresa Thorn, illustrated by Noah Grigni

A warm, straightforward exploration of gender identity that gives kids (and parents!) the vocabulary we need to discuss questions around gender with sensitivity and respect. The illustrations also feature a ton of racial and body size diversity. 

JULIAN IS A MERMAID by Jessica Love

Come for the beautiful story of Julian embracing his gender identity; stay for the most gorgeous fat mermaids you’ve ever seen. 

SPARKLE BOY by Leslea Newman

A very sweet story of a big sister struggling to understand her little brother’s love of everything shimmery, sparkly and glittery. 

MARY WEARS WHAT SHE WANTS by Keith Negley

Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested often for wearing pants; has sparked some great conversations about gender roles and expectations in my house.

JACK (NOT JACKIE) by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Holly Hatam

This big sister figures out that her little sister likes bugs and mud more than fairies, and would rather be called Jack. A great story about change and acceptance.


My Story: I was delighted to be featured over on Substack Stories last week; check it out here. (And if you found me via that post—welcome! So glad you’re here.)

Substack
What To Read: Virginia Sole-Smith is reexamining diet culture
This week, we interviewed Virginia Sole-Smith, a journalist who writes Burnt Toast, a newsletter about how we navigate diet culture and fatphobia. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity…
Read more