Based on 22 reviews
Based on 34 reviews
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Melissa is a novel about a transgender fourth grader called George who increasingly learns to be herself and to tell others about her secret. Along the way, she finds many supportive advocates, but her greatest ally is her best friend, Kelly. Some kids taunt Melissa, and she's called a freak and gets punched by a bullying student. Some people, such as Melissa's older brother Scott, assume that Melissa is a gay boy, but she says she doesn't "know who she liked, really, boys or girls." The book was formerly titled George, but in 2021, at the author's request, it was retitled and republished as Melissa, to respect the main character's identity. The novel deals with gender identity, but there's no sexual activity. Scott mentions looking at porn and "dirty" magazines as something boys do. Young readers who don't know what the word "porn" means may be inclined to look it up. Parents and teachers can use this book to talk about a wide variety of topics, including what it means to be transgender and to how to stand up for someone being bullied. Editor's note: In the story, Melissa's older brother shows her how to clear the browsing history after using their mom's computer. Melissa then does this after searching the internet for transgender information. In the Common Sense K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum we advise families and educators to empower kids to think critically about the websites they visit. However, families may choose to review their kids' browsing history to make sure they're making safe choices online.
Melissa by Alex Gino
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What's the Story?
MELISSA is about a transgender fourth grader. She may have been named George at birth in a boy's body, but she knows she's really a girl. For example, when her class stages Charlotte's Web, she wants to audition for Charlotte, not a boy's part. She gets teased by boys in class ("You're such a freak. You're a freak. Freak. Freak"), but finds amazing support in her best friend, Kelly, and in her older brother. But what will her mother say when she gets the courage to tell her she's a girl named Melissa?
Is It Any Good?
Alex Gino's simply and tenderly written story will help kids -- and parents -- understand what it feels like to be transgender. Melissa hates the body she was born with, gets teased at school, and worries her mother won't accept her if she learns her big secret. Readers will quickly understand that the fourth grader called George is really a girl and cheer her growing ability to live as herself.
There's not a lot of new territory covered here, but there are some simple and lovely moments, such as when Melissa's older brother says, "Weird. But it makes sense," when he hears her secret, or when her supportive friend Kelly helps her pick an outfit so that she can spend a day as Melissa.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what it means to be transgender, as portrayed in Melissa. What would it feel like to be born into the wrong physical body?
Is it getting easier for kids today to let their true selves shine through?
Melissa gets bullied and even gets into a physical fight. What would you do if you saw one of your classmates being picked on?
- Author: Alex Gino
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: August 25, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: February 3, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
I Am Jazz
Sweet, straightforward story of young transgender girl.
Sharp, funny graphic novel captures chaos of theater.
Better Nate Than Ever
Terrific tale of misfit taking bold step to remake his life.
For kids who love LGBTQ+ stories
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