Tuesday, January 21, 2020

January #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on When Aidan Became a Brother with Author Kyle Lukoff

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Kyle Lukoff,
author of #cbadspotlight pick 
When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning--from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does "making things right" actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

When Aidan Became a Brother is a heartwarming book that will resonate with transgender children, reassure any child concerned about becoming an older sibling, and celebrate the many transitions a family can experience.

Thank you, Kyle, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

Grumpiness! I was really dissatisfied with a lot of the gnc/trans-themed picture books I was seeing, because they had repetitive plots that usually hinged upon violence and bullying. I wanted to create a story where the character's trans identity informs and enhances the entire story, but isn't set up as a conflict to resolve or a problem to overcome.

What was your writing & revision process like for this story?

Fun, but very challenging. The text went through three major drafts before being picked up by my editor. Once it found a home it went through innumerable drafts after that. Some of those changes were significant to Aidan's character or the overall arc of the story, and others were smaller choices of words that nonetheless became very significant. One thing about writing picture books is that, because they're so short, every word has to be the exact right one. And there are little things that I still wish were different about it, because revising is never done.

Was there any part of the process where you and the illustrator, Kaylani Juanita, worked together on the vision for this book?

Kaylani and I didn't work together, but I love how much our visions for the story aligned. And one thing that feels really special is how much of ourselves we each put into the book. I'm transgender, like Aidan, and Kaylani has a Filipina mother and a Black father (while Aidan's mom is Black and his father is Filipino), and it's beautiful how much this book has become both of ours.

What is your favorite part of making picture books? 

I love putting together words that don't seem like much on their own but together turn into something magical.

#cbadspotlight is putting the spotlight on inclusive #ownvoices books. What can you share with students about the connection you have to this book or the choices you made while writing it to add diverse representation?

I didn't come out as transgender until I was much older than Aidan, and in a lot of ways my life is really different from his. But when I talk about this book to people I realize that there is still a lot of me in his story, a lot of aspects of my childhood that I hadn't remembered or thought about until I started saying "I did that as a kid" or "That's how I felt, too." I came out a long time ago but am still always learning about myself.

#classroombookaday is a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year to students at any grade. What would you like to say to the teachers who are taking on this challenge?

Picture books are such a beautiful and important art form, and I'm so glad you're using them in your classroom!

Be sure to check out all of the #cbadspotlight choices for this school year!
Visit classroombookaday.com for more information on #classroombookaday,
a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year, at any grade,
inspired by Donalyn Miller's #bookaday.

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