Booksource Book Club invites you to read along with us. Every month or so (depending on the size of the book) a group of us book nerds gathers to talk about a book we’ve all read. Now we want you to join in the fun! We’ll start by giving you an update of our last book talk and let you know our next pick. Please join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts.

In June, we discussed George (Grades 3-7) by Alex Gino. Here’s what we thought:

Be who you are. It seems a simple enough mandate. But for many people, adults and children alike, it can seem an impossible goal. This is George’s problem. She feels she can’t be who she truly wants to be, the person she knows she truly is on the inside. When Georgeeveryone else looks at George, they see a boy, but George knows in her heart that she’s a girl. When her fourth grade class reads Charlotte’s Web, George is extremely affected, and she feels a deep connection to the fictional spider. When her class decides to put on the play, Charlotte’s Web, George REALLY wants to play Charlotte. She thinks it will be the perfect opportunity to finally share her secret with her friends and family, and show the world who she really is. However, George’s teacher won’t even let her audition for the role because she’s a boy. George shares her secret with her best friend Kelly, and the two of them come up with a plan to make sure George can play Charlotte in the play. Kelly is unconditionally supportive and helps give George the strength and encouragement she needs to tell her family who she really is.

After months of split reactions to recent book club selections, our reaction to George was unanimous. We all loved it, and felt it dealt with a mature and potentially controversial subject in a sensitive manner. More importantly, it was appropriate for the intended grade level. By making George such a young character, dating and sexuality is taken out of the equation, and it simply becomes a story about personal identity. We had a great discussion in book club about how kids George’s age are more exposed to this kind of subject matter through social media. They also have access to information and Charlottes Websupport that today’s adults didn’t have when they were young. George finds a lot of information on the internet, and her searching provides a simple and effective way to explain this complicated topic to a younger audience. George’s loneliness and despair at not being able to share who she really is is palpable, although it never becomes too dark. And although George’s journey isn’t easy (she experiences some bullying in school, and her mother has a difficult time accepting what George has to say), she finds some happiness and relief in just sharing her secret. The book ends on a happy note, although acknowledging that George and her family won’t have an easy time adjusting.

Although transgendered children is a subject matter that might be a sensitive topic for a classroom discussion, George is a great resource for younger kids who have questions about things they see and hear in popular media as well as children or students who are struggling with their own sense of identity.


*George has been nominated for a Scout Award, Booksource Scout Awardan internal Booksource award. Booksource will nominate books throughout the year and then ask readers to vote on their favorites to determine the winners. The Scout Award is named in honor of the main character of Booksource’s most popular title, To Kill a Mockingbird. Read more about the awards here.