Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn't seem to fit. Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by--a boy's name. This begins Max's journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents. Written with warmth and sensitivity by trans writer Kyle Lukoff, this book is a sweet and age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published October 15, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kyle Lukoff

17 books172 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
183 (53%)
4 stars
119 (35%)
3 stars
24 (7%)
2 stars
3 (<1%)
1 star
10 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 76 reviews
Profile Image for Jamila.
572 reviews102 followers
October 25, 2019
This book isn't my favorite book about gender identity and trans children. Perhaps because it is a school story, and not a family story. But, there are pages that sing and are complex and are thought-provoking. Those are the pages where Max interacts and explores gender with the other children in his class who are also gender fluid and/or expressing their genders in their own ways. They also don't fit what Max understands early on about gender, and thus, both Max and readers are enlightened.
Profile Image for Holly.
445 reviews33 followers
May 11, 2021
#OwnVoices title by a former school librarian! <3

This book breaks down a lot of "HoW cOuLd I pOsSiBlY eXpLaIn ThIs To mY KiDs?" barriers in extremely easy and simplistic ways. My example is the bathroom situation. Max is confused about bathrooms because at home there is one bathroom for all household members (mom, dad, Max, etc.), when Max is out with Dad he uses the mens room with Dad, when Max is out with Mom he uses the womens room with Mom, but when Max is at school he doesn't know which bathroom to use. It doesn't help that both girls and boys freak out whenever he uses the boys or girls bathrooms at school. It checks out, I get why Max is confused.

I think this book is super important because it brings up Max's girl friend who likes bugs and is still a girl as well as Max's boy friend who likes dresses and is still a boy. CONTROVERSIAL TAKE: A lot of LGBTQIA+ youth books tend to rely HEAVILY on outdated gender stereotypes to explain the concept of gender. I honestly really love Lukoff's take because as a cisgender lady, it has always felt weird to have my gender summed up by tampons, makeup, princesses, and shoes. I feel as if there is more to me and my womanhood than sexist generalizations about what girls stereotypically like. It also shows that some dudes just wear dresses and a dress-wearing-dude does not make that dude a Drag Queen or transgender person.

Gender is a spectrum. You can be a cisgender boy who likes princesses. You can be a cisgender girl who likes trucks. You can be a transgender boy who likes airplanes. You can be a transgender girl who likes dresses. Honestly, you can be a transgender girl who likes trucks and bugs and dresses. OR EVEN a cisgender boy who likes princesses, superheroes, bugs, cats, dogs, and medial science. Not every interest and topic is gendered. Nothing pisses me off more than a grandparent coming is demanding "A 6 year old girl book" or asking me "Where are your boy books?" It happens almost everyday still in 2021.

/end ramble, sorry.
Profile Image for Chrissy  Higgins.
16 reviews
November 7, 2021
“Call Me Max” is a book I would love to read to my Kindergarteners and 1st graders! What the word transgender means, as well as how it feels, is explained in a very child-friendly and age-appropriate way that my students could definitely understand. I also enjoyed that the common comments regarding transgender children were addressed. Max had “boy interests”, but so did Teresa, and she wasn’t transgender. Max didn’t like to wear “girl clothes”, but Steven did, and he wasn’t transgender. The discomfort with which bathroom to use was also very relatable to transgender children. Max is a character that young transgender kids could definitely relate to!

The author, Kyle Lukoff is a transgender man who transitioned while in college, and since then has been a children’s librarian and author to many #ownvoices books featuring transgender characters. His experience with young children shows as he anticipates many questions that transgender children, as well as any child may pose. His publisher, Lee & Low books also prides itself on breaking the trend of “single story” and supporting authentic #ownvoices stories.
2 reviews
October 28, 2021
This book is so offensive!! It’s written for children… Maybe im a girl maybe I’m a boy but I won’t tell you my real name because that’s private. I have a friend who is a cross dresser and I want my teacher to call me Max. That’s the kind of stuff that’s in this book it’s disgusting on all levels. All this book would do is confuse children to the highest degree. Meant to mix them up and misinform them, it’s so sad that someone would actually write a book like this to give to a child.
Profile Image for Saturniidead ★.
111 reviews15 followers
July 18, 2022
Content warnings are listed at the end of my review!

At the start of Call Me Max we are provided with a simple but very clear definition of what the word transgender means. Max is starting school and it proves to be difficult to navigate with names and gender segregated facilities as he is coming to understand himself. Sam finds students who listen to him when he talks to them about being a trans boy, and they point out how climbing and not liking dresses doesn't make him a boy, or his friends any less their respective genders. This helps him to understand his gender better while also respecting his peers. Through the support of his friends, he comes out to his family and the book concludes on a happy note as Max understands his relationship to his gender.

Readability: ★★★★★, It's a perfect 101, especially for young readers! It is some of the most straightforward and accessible definitions I've seen for being trans and how it relates to gender expression.

Entertainment: ★★★★★, It's a nice story about learning, especially mutually learning about and understanding one another. Seeing gender nonconforming friends share with Max about their relationship to gender is great to see, especially for readers wanting to understand more about being trans and how it and gender nonconformity relate to one another.

Audience: This is a great foundation for learning about what being transgender is for any reader! I think it would be a fantastic starting place for understanding the topic more, so it would be great as a part of a lesson. It's a pretty simple story so a young person looking for representation isn't going to get a whole lot from this book alone, so it could be more useful and entertaining for allies than trans youth.

Content Warnings: bullying, fear, gender stereotyping, lying, water deprivation
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,032 reviews47 followers
April 19, 2022
The teacher is hesitant to call out Max's name on the first day. Max likes wearing "boy" clothes, doing gross stuff like catching bugs with his friend Teresa, and playing with his friend Steven, who likes to wear dresses and be a boy, even though Max doesn't like wearing dresses.
After a slightly rocky start, Max's parents, teacher and classmates accept and embrace Max and Max continues to be just that, himself.

A wonderfully textual and illustrated book about transgender identity, by #OwnVoices author, Kyle Lukoff. A great topic read for youth and parents who may be unsure of what to do and how to be your best self.
Profile Image for FM Family.
1,069 reviews12 followers
May 20, 2021
This was a good one that explores what it is to be trans, some of the things to keep in mind about trans kids, and how different kids can present their genders in all sorts of ways. I really appreciated that the main character himself, even though he was trans, still made mistakes around other kids' presentations, saying "i know I'm a boy because I don't like dresses" while his friend Stephen is in a dress like "HEY?!?" and then Max has to reconsider what he really means and that its about a feeling inside. Does a great job of flagging some of the tough situations a trans kid might have to face on their own, like which bathroom to use, if parents aren't engaged in the conversation with them. It was kind of strange to see a picture book broken up into chapters, but I guess it worked! My almost 4 year old enjoyed it and paid close attention whenever we read it. Great for representation.
Profile Image for Jaclyn Hogan.
349 reviews32 followers
March 16, 2021
So, an elementary school teacher in Austin, TX read this book to her class. And parents had, as my mother would say, "a shit fit." Because they were offended that their children would learn that trans people exist. I got nothing, except that this is an incredibly mild, super child friendly picture book. I also immediately checked it out from the library for my niblings.

Profile Image for Hannah Jablow.
21 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2021
"Call Me Max" was written by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Luciano Lozano, and published in 2019, is about a young transgender boy named Max. Max was born a girl, identifies as a boy, and we follow Max as he goes through his first few days of elementary school. Max gives the reader clear, concise, and accurate definitions on what it means to be transgender, and how people might identify differently than how they were born.

What was so wonderful about this book was how inclusive and welcoming every single person in Max's life was. His parents accepted him for him, his teacher called him by his chosen name and not his birth name, and his classmates accepted him for who he is. There was one part of the book where Max's friend, a little girl, was questioning why he wanted to be a boy, and Max gave some stereotypical answers, "I like climbing tress and catching bugs," but when he was pressed he just simply said, "Because I feel like one." No one questioned him, no one made him feel "different" or "weird". This is a great book to show how necessary, and honestly, how easy, it is to be accepting of people regardless of who they are.

I found a read-aloud version of this book on YouTube. I used the Rainbow Books List to pick this title. What is nice about the online video, is that the reader is also a transgender male, so that adds a level of vulnerability and authenticity to the read-aloud, and it validates the book more. The pictures are adorable, so I would suggest reading a physical copy if you wanted to bring this into your classroom. Amazon's recommended age is 4-8, or 2nd-4th grade, and I would agree with that. I do think it's important for these books to be read at the elementary school level. I have three students who are transgender, and I am curious if they've ever read a picture book with a transgender main character.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1,291 reviews49 followers
March 24, 2021
This book is such a delight!

It starts off Educational, but quickly pivots to education-by-way-of-narrative in a way that I think works well.

It hits all the major points in a way that feels organic to our protagonist child's school experience and doesn't feel like just checking off boxes.

There's conflict, but just enough to move the story along, and honestly I appreciate stories about trans kids where everyone is basically supportive.  It's such good modeling for trans kids of how things can be, and for everyone else about how to do the right thing.

Profile Image for Izzy.
4 reviews
December 6, 2022
I think this gives a very well-rounded explanation of what being transgender feels like, I will have this book in my classroom and make an effort to read it to every class I have.

a very good book
Profile Image for Kristine.
23 reviews
November 21, 2021
The book “Call Me Max,” written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Luciano Lozano is a very heartfelt and thoughtful book that holds the power to change lives. We follow Max through his first few days of elementary school. During this time, we join Max’s journey of learning about his own gender expression and identity. The book explicitly and simply explains what transgender means while also maintaining a narrative story about Max. The picture book is divided into 4 “chapters.” Chapter 1 teaches the definition of transgender and we meet Max; a child who loves to wear ties, Batman pajamas, and big overalls. Chapter 2, Max goes to school and it is more difficult than he imagined, but in expected ways. The biggest challenge is the bathroom. At home, everyone uses the same bathroom. In stores, Max goes into the bathrooms with either his mom or his dad. At school, you have to go to the one assigned to you. Someone thinks Max is a boy in the girl’s bathroom and Max gets very embarrassed. Now Max holds it instead of going. I think this is a very relatable topic for transgender kids, so I am glad the author included this in the text. Chapter 3 Max begins to express why he feels like a boy inside through various conversations with classmates who all express their gender expression and identity in their own way. Max meets a girl who loves bugs just like him, but she is not transgender. Max meets a boy who wears dresses, but he is not transgender. Max begins to express that he is a boy because of a feeling on the inside. I found this to be extremely important to include in the book - enjoying certain activities or ways of expressing yourself does not make children a certain gender identity. This will be a great topic of conversation in a classroom. Chapter 4 is when Max’s family learns about him identifying as a boy at school. They sign him up for a support group and Max is ecstatic to finally feel like himself.

I would gladly include this book in my first-grade classroom. It exposes students to new kid-friendly vocabulary and concepts. Whether or not you have a trans or nonbinary student in your current classroom, I think books like this will help to normalize conversations around all different genders and identities. I am inspired to have a “Being Me” or “All Kinds of Kids” book bin in my library that houses all of the LGBTQ+ identity stories for kids to enjoy reading.

I found this book on The Rainbow Booklist and accessed it on YouTube.
Profile Image for Valerie Rammes.
17 reviews
November 8, 2021

Call Me Max is an inspiring picture book written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Luciano Lozano. This story is about a transgender boy who reflects on himself as identifying as a boy and faces struggles at school with this. Max faces his first struggle when the teacher calls him by his birth name and he has to ask her to call him “Max.” Then during the school day Max struggles with which restroom he should use. He scares a girl when using the girl’s restroom, and he gets laughed at when he uses the boy’s restroom. This makes him decide to try and hold off going to the restroom at all. He shares his feelings with his friends about identifying as a boy and his friends ask him questions to try and understand him. His simple answers come down to one thing, Max feels like a boy, “On the inside.” His parents are understanding and talk with his teachers who have him join a group of transgender students. The students in his classroom are also understanding and the girls trade clothes with him. The tone of the story is reassuring that it’s okay that there are differences in how you identify yourself and that it is good to be confident about it.
The book is broken into short chapters that make it an easier read for younger readers. When teaching about what the word “transgender” means, different fonts are used and some in bold color red, and the characters are in black and white, besides hair color. When the story gets back to Max, it’s more colorful and the facial expressions on the characters are evident of their emotions whether it is surprised, angry, happy, or confused.
I enjoyed how this story explains to the early reader what transgender means. It’s educational for those that may not understand and simple enough to understand what is most important is being yourself. I also like how the story included two of his friends that makes the reader reflect on not assuming that girls and boys should have expectations on how to act. The story includes a girl who enjoys catching spiders and climbing trees, and a boy who feels like a boy and enjoys wearing dresses. It highlights the diversity among students. This story gives a good example of what an inclusive society should look like.
20 reviews1 follower
March 3, 2021
Title: Call Me Max. 2019
Author: Kyle Lukoff
Illustrator: Luciano Lozano
Recommended Age: 7 - 9 years old
Rainbow Books - GLBTQ Lists
Found: Schaumburg Library
Youtube: Call Me Max - Read Aloud

The story begins with a description of one boy, who has spiky brown hair, white skin, tans in the summer, a mother, a father, and a boy who is transgender. The author continues the story with a brief description of what it means to be transgender. Trans - means going across, compared to how transportation means going from one place to another. Gender - means being a boy or a girl. “Or a little of both. Not feeling like a boy or girl”. Max explains his feelings and experiences when his mother and father buy him a dress to wear on his first day back. He thought school would be hard for reasons he didn’t expect. He didn’t feel his name made sense for him and asked to be called Max. At school, using the washroom was also a bit confusing. When Max came out of the boys’ bathroom, a few kids started laughing at him. Max didn’t feel comfortable using either washroom, so he held it all day and didn’t drink a lot of water. Making friends was easy for Max, but they would ask him if he was a boy or girl. Max tried to explain climbing trees and looking for bugs was fun to do. Although he could do those same things as a girl, he didn’t feel like one on the inside. Max’s parents end up talking with Max’s teacher and find a support group for boys and girls who were also transgender. They talked about important things like which bathrooms to use, teasing, and fun things. Max doesn’t think being a boy is better, but being himself is the best. This chapter book is a warm-hearted and age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender.
Profile Image for Stephanie Bange.
1,588 reviews13 followers
April 12, 2020
The first of a series of children's picture books for young readers about a transgender boy named Max.

On the first day of school, Max educates his teacher and classmates about his gender identity, then goes home to do the same for his parents. Max's voice is young, naive, and with a sweet innocence of youth. Never pushing an agenda, he merely informs adults and classmates how it feels to be a transgender boy. The inclusion of a boy who likes to wear girl's dresses and a girl who likes bugs and to climb trees as Kyle's friends will continue to add to the complexity of future books about Max.

Once again, Kyle hits his mark. He is one of the most interesting and exciting LGBTQ authors writing books for young children today as he single handedly helps inform readers about how it feels to deal with a gender identity mismatch as a young child within the context of a story. To feel, to experience, to understand the emotions and confusion felt by transgender children on certain occasions gives us all great insights on how to respond to them in the future with kindness, thoughtfulness, and love.

Luciano Lozano's digital artwork(?) is light and breezy, very attractive and hits exactly the right notes for the story. The cartoonish characters are relatable without being caricatures.

This will be an especially useful tool to use for parents, teachers and counselors, whose children/students express themselves as transgender - not only to give understanding for themselves and the child, but also to other classmates and students.

Highly Recommended for PreSchool-grade 3.

54 reviews
April 12, 2023
A refreshing take on a transgender child’s journey that acknowledges that it’s more about a feeling on the inside than what you like or don’t like or how you look on the outside that makes you a boy or a girl. Max feels like a boy and isn’t sure which bathroom to use at school and doesn’t like answering to the other name he has when the teacher calls attendance. Max has a boy friend who likes being a boy but also likes wearing dresses, and a girl friend who likes being a girl but also climbing trees, wearing pants, and collecting bugs. Many transgender-affirming books accidentally reinforce gender stereotypes to explain gender dysphoria, and this one acknowledges that liking things that aren’t stereotypical for your assigned gender don’t automatically make you trans and aren’t really what being transgender is about. Highly recommended for kids to read on their own or with an adult.
Profile Image for Karen Gedeon.
775 reviews1 follower
March 28, 2021
Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Luciano Lozano A wonderful picture book in which Max, a transgender kindergartner, narrates his feelings, friendships and first few days of school. Max delicately describes how he has always felt like a boy even though someone declared at his birth that he was a girl. He describes what the term transgender means and the struggles he has choosing the correct restroom. Finally he describes how he became friends with a girl who doesn’t care about gender and a boy who likes to wear dresses. A must read for all youngsters especially transgender and those who know a transgender child. Makes a great class read aloud due to all the robust talking points. Ages 5-9
Profile Image for Aolund.
1,293 reviews8 followers
May 13, 2021
Max knows he's a boy because he feels like one on the inside! Through talking with his friends Theresa and Steven, he realizes that it's not his love for bugs and tree-climbing or his dislike of dresses that make him a boy--what makes him a boy is that he knows himself to be one. Told in multiple short chapters, this picture book includes a great primer on what it means to be transgender while maintaining an engaging narrative flow. Max is depicted as White with brown hair. Theresa and Steven are both depicted with brown skin and black hair. Extra points to this book for managing to show the difficulties faced by transgender children while simultaneously showing joy and supportive adults and kids.

Themes: Be Yourself, Names, Friends, Gender
Age range: Preschool-Early Elementary
Profile Image for Ryan.
461 reviews
April 29, 2022
Max enjoys doing a lot of things and is nervous about the first day of school. Max tells the teacher that's his name, different from the attendance sheet, but then he gets into a predicament with the bathroom. The girls freak out if he uses theirs' and the boys are nervous having him come into theirs'. Max eventually tells his parents that he never felt like a girl on the inside, and after discussions with the school, he joins a club that has other transgendered children and learn even more things about identity.

It is a nice little book on learning about transgender identity and explains it in the simplest ways possible for children. As Max said so himself, "Being a boy isn't better than being a girl. But being myself is the best."
Profile Image for Sue Edwards.
Author 64 books23 followers
April 10, 2021
Call Me Max is about a transgender boy who asks his teacher to call him Max. When friends, ask him why, he explains that he knows he is a boy because he wear’s boys clothes, climbs, trees and more. Various friends object to parts of his statement. A girl also likes to climb trees so it can’t be a boy thing. A boy likes to wear dresses so they can’t be girl things. Max considers what they have to say and then repeats that he knows he is a boy.

The beauty of this book is that although it is for transgendered children, it is a beautiful exploration of self. Any boy who wanted a doll, the girl who was criticized for wanting short hair, and more would benefit from this book.
Profile Image for Alissa Tsaparikos.
365 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2021
Call Me Max, follows a young transgender boy as he explains to the reader what being transgender means and also shows his experiences when he starts school. It simply and easily breaks things down for young readers unfamiliar with the term transgender. Max's self-exploration is thoughtfully done, exploring the issues he comes across in school as well as how he, his family, and classmates embrace his identity. He is a boy because that is what feels right inside! This is a longer picture book, spread out into little chapters. So it would be best suited for one-on-one reads or reading done in a classroom setting with older elementary students.
Profile Image for Lisa.
604 reviews
May 30, 2022
Super cute. The book explains transgender in a basic way, and then moves on to a couple situations where things might be uncomfortable (what name are you called, which bathroom do you use) but then it also uses the story to expand Max's notion of gender, which I thought was really cool. His (girl) friend likes "boy" things but is definitely a girl; his (boy) friend likes dresses but is definitely a boy. It also normalizes talk therapy, which was also great. Only four stars because something about the book made it seem more like a lesson ("today we will learn about the word transgender") and less like a story and I feel like the message could come across better as a story.
Profile Image for Elaine Fultz, Teacher Librarian, MLS.
1,597 reviews16 followers
July 18, 2022
There are numerous picture books with transgender characters coming out (pun intended), and this is one of the best. Max knows he's a boy. He speaks directly to the reader about knowing this and about not sharing his previous name because "That's private." Lukoff's Max also confronts the issue of gendered bathrooms in a very direct but genuine way. Even though this story is informative, it does not have the didactic tone or the interruptive/awkward nonfiction story-breaks that some other picture books do. When in doubt about which Q+ books to include in your classrooms and libraries, choose Lukoff's picture books and MG books, including of course the award-winning Too Bright to See.
Profile Image for Frances.
35 reviews1 follower
July 20, 2020
Perfect intro to this topic for young kids!! So glad I could get a copy to donate to the kindergarten my mom works in; I'm sure they'll have interesting discussions around it ✨ and I honestly think it could change some kids' lives...

Also, I had literally never thought about how confusing it must be for kids to find they need to go to a certain bathroom when they're used to just going with their guardian, regardless of gender - another great thing to keep in mind to fight transphobic rhetoric about bathrooms 🙄
Displaying 1 - 30 of 76 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.