Review: Red

cover image of "Red": the top half illustrates a crayon that is labeled red, but has colored the entire page blue.

Genre: Picture Books

Release date: February 3, 2015

Synopsis: The blue crayon is mistakenly labeled as red, and suffers an identity crisis from trying — harder and harder — to be what he is “supposed to be”. Eventually, Red discovers the best way to be true to themselves is to let go of the rules… and be blue!

Disabilities represented: This book has been used to celebrate neurodiversity, gender non-conformity, and pride. It could be used to talk about disability and difference in other ways too, always coming back to the essential message: be you.

Review: This is a favorite in our household. My 12 year old still picks this up to read, as evidenced by our missing book jacket and torn corners. The beautiful and bold illustrations bring the “be you” message to life, as children literally see in front of them that there is no other way to be. But this story doesn’t just benefit children. It reminds all of the adults in our lives that happiness & joy come from allowing the people in our loves to just be. We don’t have to force neurotypical movements onto their bodies. We don’t have to force gender-normed clothing or activities. We don’t have to assume “can’t” and defiance and incapable.

There’s this scene where the teacher crayon tells the student crayon to draw strawberries. All of crayon’s strawberries are blue, because, he’s… blue. I think about all the times that children are asked to do something, especially our neurodiversity children. To identify a letter. To find a group of numbers. To draw a specific picture. I think about the assumptions professionals in their lives make: they can’t, they don’t know, they’re not listening, “they’re not ready”, “they need prerequisite skills”.

Or… maybe… just maybe… they’re blue.

Truly: a classic that I wish every child had in their class, school, and home libraries. Highly recommend.

Grab It Now: $1.99 on Kindle / Free on Kindle Free Time

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