I Can Be…ME!

Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (2023)

I Can Be...Me! book coverBuy This Book

For an autographed copy of any of Lesléa’s books, please send an email directly to her.

You are magnificent, sensational, and splendiferous! You can do anything you want to do: blast into space like an astronaut, pose like a supermodel, zoom cars and trucks, sing a sweet lullaby, and more! Join six fabulous children who through creative play, explore all kinds of ways to be their authentic selves!

LGBTQ+ Children's Books: A Conversation with Authors
A conversation with Kyle, Maya, and Lesléa: where the idea for this book began!

Why I wrote this book:

A few years ago, I was invited to participate in a panel about LGBTQ+ Children’s Books along with Maya Christina Gonzalez, author and illustrator of Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol, and Kyle Lukoff, author of When Aidan Became a Brother. I learned so much from both of them!

Along with being an author and illustrator, Maya is an activist and progressive educator, creator of the Gender Wheel, a tool to express the dynamic, infinite and inclusive reality of gender. Kyle has written many books for young readers and much of his professional work revolves around transgender representation in books for youth. I Can Be…ME! was conceived and created out of our conversation.

Links and Resources


I can be anything I want to be.
I can be all of magnificent me!

I can put on some old jeans and dig in the dirt,
or paint my nails silver and pose in a skirt….

I can wear fancy jewelry dripping with glamour
or loudly pound nails with the tip of my hammer….

I can be anything I want to be.
I can be all of magnificent me!


“Bring together the talents of Lesléa Newman, the award-winning poet and author of 75 books for readers of all ages (including the classic Heather Has Two Mommies), and Pura Belpré Honor Award-winning illustrator and educator Maya Gonzalez, and chances are, the results will be terrific. That’s the case with this book, a joyous, rhyming celebration of self-expression.

I can be everything I want to be,
I can be all of magnificent me!

it begins exuberantly. Six children diverse in skin tones, whose genders are never specified but could be variously read as boys, girls, or nonbinary, play, create, feel, and interact. We see them wearing skirts or pants (or both!), cooking, dancing, playing sports, caring for baby dolls, trying makeup, playing music, and more. No one is labeled and no one is excluded for who they are as they imagine themselves as astronauts, magicians, mermaids, pirates, princes, and princesses. They also show us that it’s okay to show emotion—to pound a pillow when one is mad, rock in a chair when feeling sad, or ask for a hug when frightened. Mostly, though, they show the joy inherent in being themselves, and let readers know that they can do so, too.

Gonzalez’s colorful characters move, frolic, and express themselves in her signature style as Newman’s words offer inspiring, affirming examples of the possibilities open to any child.

This is a gem of a book that should find many fans.”

–Mombian Reviews