I love how this story teaches us about Gilbert Baker and his legacy, but is also unapologetically direct about the importance of letting kids be themselves even if their personalities don’t fit into some kind of society approved gender-specific boxes. Personalities are meant to shine, not be squashed and molded into a form that we think is appropriate. Written by Gayle E. Pitman, and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown, Sewing the Rainbow tells us the story of Gilbert Baker: of growing up in the early 1950’s in Kansas, being drafted into the army, and of discovering the freedom of being able to be oneself without limits. And it also tells the story that we are who we are and we should never feel ashamed of that.
Taken from the true story of icon Gilbert Baker, Sewing the Rainbow teaches us how he discovered a whole new world when he was stationed in San Francisco in the early 1970’s, which led him to go back to his early childhood dreams of sewing and creating beautiful colorful designs, dreams that were ripped apart at an early age by his father. In 1978 he designed the first rainbow flag, a symbol for the diversity of the LGBT community. This flag is still today a universal symbol.
The book comes with a great Reader Note for parents (and older children), which explains Gilbert Baker’s background in depth, as well as his important role in the gay liberation movement. As a family we are always on the look-out for books that don’t conform to a stereotypical white, middle-class, cis public’s viewpoint, as well as diverse literature to ensure that our kids not only feel represented, but that they understand that it’s normal to be different and to love and embrace difference. Sewing the Rainbow fits perfectly into the type of books that I love to read to our kids, and one that I hope will make it into the hands of all kinds of families, schools, and libraries.
And the illustrations are gorgeous, bright and colorful, perfect for the story. My kids loved showing me how well they knew the colors of the rainbow, and I really enjoyed explaining what each color represents in the flag.
(I also love that the author teaches in Sacramento where we currently live, and the illustrator is British, where I am originally from. It made me smile!).
Sewing the Rainbow will be released through the American Psychological Association/Magination Press on June 4th.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!