The Next Chapter

ByUs Box's Nicole Stamp shares 3 great books to help raise inclusive children

The co-creator of the educational gift box service talks about I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, The Bread Pet by Kate DePalma and When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff.
Ashley Baylen and Nicole Stamp are the co-founders of subscription service ByUs. (Submitted by Nicole Stamp)

Nicole Stamp spent many years working in children's educational television as a host, writer, director and producer. She's the co-creator with Ashley Baylen for a new initiative called ByUs, a toolkit of books and educational materials designed to help parents raise anti-racist and inclusive children.

The ByUs Boxes are delivered to families once a quarter, with each new box celebrating a new theme and community. Boxes ordered between now and mid-February will be delivered in March 2021.

"We don't choose books that are just about an equity seeking community; we choose books that are written by members of that community," Stamp said. 

"In all three of these cases we think the representation is really strong because the equity-seeking group is embedded through all aspects of the story without the story being about the equity-seeking group, which would kind of imply that if you're from that group it's all you ever think about and it's the only thing about you that matters."

Stamp spoke with The Next Chapter about three books that have been included in the boxes.

I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown & Jason "Rachel" Brown, illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Karamo Brown is a co-author of 2019 picture book I Am Perfectly Designed. (Henry Holt and Co., Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

"Karamo Brown is famous. He's one of the hosts of the show Queer Eye. This book is wonderful. It is a story about a little boy and a dad going for a walk in the city. They're both Black and they're talking about their relationship. This is a child and his dad and they're having a positive relationship, but they're not talking about being Black, they're just Black."

The Bread Pet by Kate DePalma, illustrated by Nelleke Verhoeff 

Kate DePalma is the author of The Bread Pet. (Barefoot Books, Sarah Soldano)

"The Bread Pet is about a child who gets a sourdough starter. She doesn't know how to take care of it. So it keeps growing and growing and growing and she has all this sourdough bread that she has to figure out who to give it to. It's a really fun, cute book.

"The lead character is little girl who is Black and she wears cochlear implants. She has hearing loss and she has queer parents, and the book is not about any of those identities. It's just about a child figuring out how to handle all of this sourdough. It ends with a sourdough recipe so kids can get involved and make something for themselves at home."

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Kyle Lukoff is an American children's book author, school librarian and former bookseller. (Lee & Low Books, Erin Jones-Le)

"This is a book about a child who is assigned the female gender at birth. This child knows from birth that they are not a girl. So he manages to convince his parents that he's a boy. He changes his name and he becomes Aidan. That's the very beginning of the book.

"And then Aidan finds out that his parents are going to have a baby and he is going to become a big brother. 

"So I love this book because it shows a positive example of childhood transition. He is never bullied for being trans. Nobody scolds him for being trans. He just communicates it. The people around him accept it and they behave accordingly. So that's a really nice way of framing transition for kids."

ByUs is a diverse children's literature subscription service based in Canada. (Submitted by Nicole Stamp)

Nicole Stamp's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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