• Glencoe Elementary School Counselor and GSA Coordinator Pens a Book About Chosen Family

     This is a photo of Madi Bourdon's book, A Kid's Book About Chosen Family.

    Madi Bourdon’s first book practically wrote itself. 

    According to the Glencoe Elementary School counselor and Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) coordinator, it only took them an hour and a half to finish A Kid’s Book About Chosen Family, which came out this March with A Kid’s Co. publishing.

    The concept of a chosen family was a natural one for Bourdon to write about. As a neurodivergent Queer person, Bourdon often questioned if the things that allowed them to feel most themself were “too much,” until they found people who understood what they needed to feel valued and accepted.

    “Now I have chosen family members in all kinds of circles, with each member making me feel supported and seen in different ways,” they said.

    Bourdon dedicated the book in part to their students, who secretly got a hold of one of their author copies and filled it with loving and supportive messages, like a yearbook.

    When asked how being mentioned in their counselor’s book made them feel, Bourdon’s student’s said they felt “great and cared about” and “so spectacular” and “very, very, very happy,” and affirmed to “know that I am in Miss Madi’s chosen family and that no matter what, they will love me for me.”

    “I never imagined a group of 4th and 5th graders would make such an impact on me,” Bourdon said, “but they have been and continue to be my inspiration.”

    Other inspirations include Kath Weston, who coined the term “chosen family” in her book Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship, and Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who, in the 1970s,  provided shelter, food, and community care for LGBTQ+ young people experiencing houselessness to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

    In the spirit of those three icons, Bourdon wrote her book to remind readers that they are not alone in the world. 

    “I hope readers will understand how important it is to surround ourselves with people who love us for who we are now, and who we are becoming,” she said. “But I also wanted to call out that whether chosen or given family, one is not more valuable than the other. This book is an invitation to discuss the importance of finding your people—those who see and love you for you, biological or not. I want all ages of readers to understand that our people are out there!”

    This reminder is more important than ever, in Bourdon’s opinion, given the tidal wave of anti-LGBTQI+ legislation being passed in state houses across the country, not to mention the hateful rhetoric being normalized every day against the LGBTQI+ community on mainstream and social media.

    “We are (again) living in a time when prioritizing safety is a huge part of navigating life as a Queer person, so I felt this was the right time to redefine what support and connection looks like for so many of us - it allows us to create bonds based on choice, rather than obligation.”

    Bourdon is currently brainstorming their next book. They’re not sure what it will be about, but, like A Kid’s Book About Chosen Family, it, too, will delve into how crucial it is for young people to feel a sense of belonging.

    “I just hope this book has the accessibility to continue making it into the hands of those who need it,” Bourdon said.