Introducing Teddy: a story about being yourself by Jessica Walton, is a book for younger children about gender and how having a penis, may not necessarily mean that you identify as being a boy.
Introducing Teddy was first introduced as a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, and as then picked up by a mainstream publisher shortly after. The book starts off with a small boy Errol and his teddy, Thomas. Every day they ride their bike in the back yard, eat their sandwiches in the tree and plant veggies in the garden. But one day Errol’s teddy is sad. His teddy tells Errol that he is afraid to tell him something and that he is worried that Errol won’t want to be his friend anymore.
Errol tells his teddy that they will always be friends, and teddy bravely tells his friend what is worrying him. Teddy tells his friend that he has always known that he is a girl teddy and not a boy teddy. And that he wishes his name was Tilly and not Thomas.
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His friend Errol responds by saying that he doesn’t care if Teddy is a girl Teddy or a boy Teddy. And that what matters is that Teddy is his friend. Errol then wants to invite his cousin Ava to come and play with them. Ava turns up to play and is told that teddy has a new name and that her name is Tilly not Thomas. Ava is nonplussed and they start to play together.
It provides you with a story, so that you can introduce the subject of transgender to your kids. Introducing Teddy talks about the fact that how a person looks on the outside, doesn’t always match up with how they feel on the inside. In this modern day, we now know that gender (male or female) isn’t necessarily determined by your genitals. Most people with penises identify as boys, but some identify as girls. And most people with a vulva identify as a girl, but some identify as a boy.
But more importantly, it is about ensuring that the next generation grows up more inclusive and doesn’t bully children who are different by being transgender. As a parent, I want my children to grow up tolerant of people’s differences ie to accept that we are all different and that that is okay. It may be the colour of our eyes, the colour of our skin, the way we dress the way we look, or the gender that we identify as. I don’t want my children to be discriminated against but i also don’t want my children to be guilty of discriminating against other people’s children too!
Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, is a wonderful book for younger children that introduces the fact that gender does not always match your sex. Younger children usually accept this fact as just another thing that can happen. Just like some kids may be in a wheel chair, or speak differently too! It is usually us parents who struggle with the concept ourselves. And books like Introducing Teddy are a wonderful opportunity to normalise transgender through a picture book that is written in an age-appropriate way. And the book gives you the words to explain it, which means that you don’t have to be an expert of the subject yourself.
So if you want to grow up a child who doesn’t discriminate and is accepting of diversity, then this is the sort of book that you need to have in your bookshelf!
You can also watch a video review of Introducing Teddy: A story about being yourself below.
There are a lot more sex education books out there, that talk about a range of other topics.
Make sure you go and check it out. It includes a lot of sex education books that will make talking about sex (and other tricky topics), a whole lot easier!
And before you choose a sex education book, like Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, you want to make sure that it is the right book for you and your child! There are a lot of books out there and what is right for me may not necessarily be the right book for you!
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and to empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. You can join my online parent support group here and visit my shop for helpful resources.