Authors Elise Gravel and Mykaell Blais wanted to teach children how to be their authentic selves and came one with the idea of writing "PINK, BLUE, AND YOU!" together.
What was your inspiration behind your most recent book?
ELISE: A few years ago, I made some free printable posters to teach kids that being a boy or a girl doesn’t define who you are, how you’re allowed to feel and what you like. The illustrations got so popular that people started asking me to make more, to talk about non-binary kids, to show diverse families, etc. and I could see that there was a need for fun, accessible resources on gender and sexual orientation stereotypes. I wanted to create mine and got the help of Mykaell, who could teach me about experiences that I’m not familiar with.
MYKAELL: It was a pleasure to collaborate with Elise on this book. This is a book that I would have loved to have when I was younger!
What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?
ELISE: Reading with pride means reading books that reinforce the sense that you matter and that you deserve love and respect, no matter who you are.
MYKAELL: This means for me that the time is over when certain realities were excluded from books. Each reality must be represented and we can be proud of the path traveled to get to today.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?
ELISE: It’s important because it promotes empathy and a sense of community towards people who don’t look like you or who have different life experiences. It’s especially important for kids, who often depend on books and movies to get to know different realities. Diversity in books is also a good way for kids who feel different to learn that they are not alone, and that other people are like them.
MYKAELL: Diverses representations are important so that children, and adults, can put humanity into words and concepts. In my opinion, every child should be able to find themselves in some medium. Each person is unique so why always offer the same role models?
Tell us a little more about the book and why you decided to write it.
ELISE: As a woman and mother of two daughters, I often see the impact of gender stereotypes on self-esteem and confidence. I wanted to help the next generation of young humans to grow away from those toxic limitations and constraints on who they want to be.
MYKAELL: As soon as Elise told me about the book, I immediately knew that it was a need mentioned by many parents. How can I talk about gender stereotypes with my young child? This book is an excellent entry point for this discussion and for showing our children that they can be themselves, authentic and that they are beautiful just the way they are.
What can fans expect from your book?
ELISE: They can expect to reflect on how our societies affect us and how they feel about that. If they read it with a grownup, they will have an occasion to think about ways to make our world a more harmonious and safe place for everyone.
MYKAELL: Fans can expect a book in the same suite of ideas as the You Can posters. This book questions gender stereotypes as well as expected social norms and thus allows children to extricate themselves from them.
What's up next for you in the bookish world?
ELISE: I just finished writing a book about disinformation, “fake news” and media literacy.