Last Friday, Evanston’s Booked children’s bookstore celebrated Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) with a TDOV party, as well as a Queer Lit Book Club meeting where Skokie-based graphic novelist Kao handed out free copies of his book. Booked provided various “Celebrate Trans Lives” and “Non-Binary is Beautiful” stickers and pins, as well as snacks and drinks.
The store will be 4 years old in September. Booked, on Main Street between Hinman and Chicago avenues, was closed for 13 months during the pandemic, so this celebration was its first in-person event since before things shut down.
“At Booked, we pride ourselves on being a space where our entire community, however diverse, every child can relate to a book,” said Rachel Round, Owner and Founder of Booked. “We are so happy to have all these young people here. And we really like to support young people, children of any sex, gender, race, identity, religion.
Round said the store’s book selection is suitable for an audience ranging from infants to adults, and the adult section is the smallest. Booked also offers a large selection of graphic novels.
There are employees behind the counter who sell books on a daily basis, but they also work with local schools to stock classrooms and libraries with books. They have worked with Lincoln, Orrington, Dewey and Dawes elementary schools.
“We love when schools support local, it’s a big part of our business,” Round said. “We do book fairs, we’ve done events with local religious organizations, churches and synagogues, supporting a speaker they have coming and that kind of stuff.”
Queer Book Club Bed
The energy inside Booked, which was filled with kids and parents socializing and jostling for free trans pride pins and stickers, was full of excitement.
Round said the store received a huge outpouring of support from people saying things like, “I wish it was there when my kid was there”; “I wish it was there when I was a kid”; and questions like, “Can my fourth grader come?” Can my second year student come? The answer, of course, was yes.
The store’s Queer Lit Book Club is for students in grades six through ninth, who meet every two weeks and read books featuring a queer person, idea, or theme.
Now that Booked employees can see the needs of the community, the store will plan more book clubs, both queer and non-queer. Round said their work is about inclusivity and celebrating diversity, and there’s no better way to do that than with literature.
“You just have to see the looks on these kids’ faces when we say to ourselves, ‘This you can have for free’ and, ‘This you can use to educate your friends.’ They were just so excited,” Round said.
“A parent of one of the participants said it would mean so much to their child to just be here and see with their own eyes that other people like them exist because it would be a first for them. And if nothing else, it was worth it.