Last Friday the Booked children’s bookstore in Evanston celebrated Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) by hosting a TDOV party, as well as a Queer Lit Book Club meeting where Skokie-based graphic novelist Vincent Kao, aka The Kao, distributed free copies of their book, “Magical Boy.” Booked supplied various “Celebrate Trans Lives” and “Non-Binary is Beautiful” stickers and pins, alongside snacks and drinks.
The store will be four 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.
“Here at Booked, we pride ourselves on being a space where our whole community, as diverse as it is, every child can find themselves in a book,” said Rachel Round, owner and founder of Booked. “We’re just so glad to have all these youth here. And we really love supporting youth, children of any sex, gender, race, identity, religion.”
Round said the store’s selection of books suits an audience from infants to adults, and the adult section is the smallest. Booked also carries a wide selection of graphic novels.
Employees can be found behind the counter on a daily basis selling books, but they also work with local schools to supply classrooms and libraries with books. They have worked with Lincoln, Orrington, Dewey and Dawes elementary schools.
“We love when schools support local, that’s a big part of our business,” Round said. “We do book fairs, we’ve done events with local faith organizations, churches and synagogues, in supporting a speaker that they have coming and that kind of thing.”
Queer Lit Book Club
The energy inside Booked, which was filled with children and parents socializing and scrambling for the free trans pride pins and stickers, was thick with excitement.
Round said the store received a tremendous outpouring of support from people saying things like, “I wish this was around when my kid was around,” “I wish this was around when I was a kid,” and questions like “Can my fourth grader come? Can my second grader come?” The answer, of course, was yes.
The store’s Queer Lit Book Club is for sixth through ninth graders who meet biweekly and read books featuring a queer person, idea or theme.
Now that Booked employees can see the community’s need, the store will be planning more book clubs, both queer and not queer. Round said that their job is inclusivity and celebrating diversity, and there’s no better way to do that than with literature.
“Just seeing the looks on these kids’ faces when we’re like, ‘This you can have for free,’ and, ‘This you can use to educate your friends.’ They’ve just been so excited,” Round said.
“A parent of one of the attendees said it would mean so much for her child to just be here and see with their eyes that other people like them exist, because that would be a first for them. And if nothing else, that made it worth it.”