What Are Your Words?: A Book About Pronouns

Little, Brown. May 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316542067.
PreS-Gr 3–Ari’s Uncle Lior comes to visit and the pair walk through town to a neighborhood summer bash. Uncle Lior uses they/them pronouns, and they make a habit of always asking Ari, “What are your words?” Sometimes Ari knows which pronouns feel just right, but on this day it’s tricky to decide. On the way to the bash, Ari introduces Uncle Lior to everyone in town using that person’s pronouns, which are illustrated over their head, along with a few words describing their personality. Ari’s family is light brown-skinned, and their neighbors represent a range of skin tones, abilities, and genders. After the bash, Ari invites the reader to share their own words and pronouns after finally settling on they/them pronouns for the day. Passchier’s colorful, geometric digital illustrations match the joyful tone of the text, bringing the whole neighborhood to life. Pronouns from around the world decorate the end papers.
VERDICT An affirming, conversational picture book that models the ease with which our language can adapt to gender diversity and pronoun use. A recommended first purchase for all libraries.

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