Red: A Crayon’s Story

The book Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall discusses being transgender through a metaphor of a crayon that has the label “red” but is actually blue.  This is a rather gentle approach to discussing gender with kids. Children won’t necessarily understanding that this is a metaphor for being transgender, but you could help them recognise this after reading. Welcoming Schools has a lesson plan here (along with others) for talking about stereotypes and how what people see on the outside may not be the same as the way we feel on the inside.

I’ve read this with 4 and 5 year olds and interestingly they engaged with Red proposing ideas that are the same that people propose for transgender people even though the book never explicitly offered these ideas.  It was sort of a peripheral understanding that the children demonstrated.

The children’s ideas included:

that the outside doesn’t matter and that it’s what’s on the inside,

Noah: I think he draws only blue because it doesn’t matter what colour he has on that [the outside], but which colour in here [the inside].

Noah: So it’s actually blue, not actually red.  Because this part on the outside is red, but the inside is blue.

that they are broken,

Liam: He’s broken.

that they were given the wrong label at birth,

Ava: When it was from the factory the people just got the label wrong.

Willow: Some can have that label, but they aren’t actually that colour.

that they can change their label,

William: They need to change the label.

that they aren’t being seen for who they are and

William: Because the person who made the crayons wasn’t looking at the label properly.

the idea of gender confusion. 

Noah: After changed into blue, then they’re confused about where’s the inside or where’s the outside.

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