top of page
Search

Love Without Bounds with Drs. Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi

Drs. Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi of CLC Collective share LOVE WITHOUT BOUNDS, a story honoring the diversity of family life and what family can mean based on our intersecting identities and experiences.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Love Without Bounds: An Intersectionallies Book about Families by Drs. Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi

Page Length: 48 pages

Ages 6 to 12


This follow-up to the critically acclaimed IntersectionAllies: We Make Room For All honors the diversity of family life and what family can mean based on our intersecting identities and experiences.


Written by three celebrated women of color sociologists, Love without Bounds: An IntersectionAllies Book about Families is a joyful, heartwarming celebration of family in all its forms: multicultural families; LGBTQ+ families; adoptive and foster care families; single-parent and blended families; transnational families; families impacted by incarceration, detention, and deportation; chosen families; military families; and more. By focusing on the choices families make to persistently love and care for one another in the face of inequality and inequity, Love without Bounds is a necessary resource to make sure all kids feel seen and loved for who they are in community with each another.


Features gorgeous illustrations throughout by Ashley Seil Smith and a colorful, informative discussion guide that explains the concepts shown in the book.

NOTABLE QUOTES

ADDITIONAL LINKS

TALK ABOUT THE EPISODE

CREDITS

AFFILATE LINK DISCLAIMER


Listen along:


FULL TRANSCRIPT:


[1:04] Introduction


Matthew: Welcome to the Children’s Book Podcast. I’m Matthew.


I am a teacher, a librarian, and a fan of kids. And, I love a lot of things. Sharing laughs with kids in the library is actually, honestly, one of my favorite things that I love. Especially because kids can remember a joke or funny moment we shared WAY longer than I can. And whenever my students remind me of those moments, it just makes me love them more and more.


And today’s episode? You guessed it. Love. SO much love. I honestly love it.


This is a podcast all about exploring big ideas in children’s books and the way that stories can help us feel seen, understood, and valued.


Helping me out on today’s episode is Jonah.


Jonah: Hi! My name is Jonah. I’m 12 years old and I’m from Maryland.


Today on the Children’s Book Podcast, CLC Collective is a partnership of three women of color scholars—Drs. Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi—who are committed to translating the tools of intersectional feminism, allyship, and sociology for all ages.


Matthew: Love Without Bounds: An Intersectionallies Book about Families by Drs. Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi


This follow-up to the critically acclaimed IntersectionAllies: We Make Room For All honors the diversity of family life and what family can mean based on our intersecting identities and experiences.


Written by three celebrated women of color sociologists, Love without Bounds: An IntersectionAllies Book about Families is a joyful, heartwarming celebration of family in all its forms: multicultural families; LGBTQ+ families; adoptive and foster care families; single-parent and blended families; transnational families; families impacted by incarceration, detention, and deportation; chosen families; military families; and more. By focusing on the choices families make to persistently love and care for one another in the face of inequality and inequity, Love without Bounds is a necessary resource to make sure all kids feel seen and loved for who they are in community with each another.


Features gorgeous illustrations throughout by Ashley Seil Smith and a colorful, informative discussion guide that explains the concepts shown in the book.



[3:45] Meet Our Guests: Drs. Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi


Dr. Carolyn Choi: Thank you so much Matthew.


We are so excited to be here. We are CLC Collective. Um, We are the authors of IntersectionAllies: We Make Room For All.


And we're here today, super excited to chat about our second book child, Love Without Bounds: an IntersectionAllies Book about Families.


So to introduce myself, hi everyone. My name is Dr. Carolyn Choi. I use the pronouns she/ her/hers. And I am one third of CLC Collective and we are a group of women of color scholars and academics who are really motivated to break down barriers between what we call the ivory tower for academia and the public sphere by creating, um, children's literature that's truly research-based.


I originally hail from the City of Angels, which is Los Angeles. I grew up the eldest child of Korean immigrants. And I've been really interested in sharing stories about the Korean-American experience, and that's really what's pushed me to where I am today, um, as a researcher at the UCLA Center for Korean Studies.


So nice to meet you all!


How about you, Dr. Chelsea?


Dr. Chelsea Johnson: Hey everybody. I'm Dr. Chelsea Johnson. I use the pronouns she and her.


I'm originally from the Midwest Chicagoland area. Grew up as one of three siblings. I now live in an even colder part of the Midwest in Minnesota.


I have always been really passionate and excited about using my training as a sociologist to help everyday people see their lives in a bigger way. So, I actually work in tech as a design researcher, thinking about ways to be safer on the internet. So that's what I do during the day.


And then outside of that, I work with Carolyn and LaToya to do that for a much wider group of people, including kids.


So I'll kick it over to you, LaToya.


Dr. LaToya Council: Hi everyone. Hello. I am Dr. Latoya council and I used to pronouns she and her.


I was born and raised in North Carolina and so I consider myself to be country at the heart, because that's where I grew up, very, very rural.


Now I am an assistant professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. And I moonlight with Dr. Chelsea and Dr. Carolyn working on awesome children's media.


Happy to be here with y'all today.



[6:46] Who Is In Your Family?


Matthew: Listeners, our house is full today with love and stories and connection. I’m so glad you get to meet the CLC Collective!


Love Without Bounds, their latest book, is a celebration of families. You probably know better than anyone that no two families look alike. Just consider how many different families are represented by you and your classmates!


And who we consider part of our family might vary depending on who you ask. Listeners, who is part of your family? Think to yourself or turn and share if you’re listening with someone.


Jonah, who would you say is part of your family?


Jonah: Well, first of all, I would definitely say my sister, my mom, and my dad, my cousins, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. But, the friends I’ve had for a while I could possibly consider family. They’re really close to me and, yeah.


Matthew: Yeah. What a terrific list.

Drs. Carolyn, Chelsea, and LaToya each come from different families, too! Of course!


Dr. Carolyn Choi: So we are actually a part of many, many families. First we are each other's family. We found each other in grad school and pretty instantly became best friends. We call each other our rocks, our confidants, our heart.


And in addition to our chosen family we are here today with on this lovely podcast, we are also made up of so many more families in our homes. And so Dr. Chelsea is gonna talk a little bit about hers.


Dr. Chelsea Johnson: Yeah. Okay. So, As Dr. Carolyn mentioned, we're part of many, many family.


So I mentioned I grew up in a nuclear family, the youngest of three, but right now the family that I'm thinking about the most is the one that I'm actively creating right now. I have a baby girl due in just a few weeks time. So, um, my experience writing this book was of being pregnant and having all of the emotions of a family really transforming.


Matthew: What do you mean when you say nuclear family, for those that that's a new term?


Dr. Chelsea Johnson: Yes. Okay. So, “nuclear family” is a term that lots of academics use, and even beyond that, that really, um, is meant to describe families that live with, uh, two parents and kids. So not necessarily extended families, that might encompass cousins or grandparents or great grandparents, but families that are living under one household, with care, parents and caregivers and, and kids.


Matthew: So, a nuclear family is one that has two parents living under one roof with kids. That might mean a mom plus a dad, or it can mean two moms, or two dads. I’ve heard the term “nuclear family” before, but now I understand it a little better and I hope you do as well.


Okay. Back to Dr. Chelsea.


Dr. Chelsea Johnson: In Love Without Bounds, there's a story about a new baby coming in and a sibling that's, like, wondering what's that gonna be like, how's that gonna feel? Parents and kids alike feel a lot of anxiety and excitement.


I also lost a lot of family over the course of my pregnancy, and so the book talks about ancestors and passing away and uh, yeah, that was a way of working through a lot of the realities that many of us face, that our loved ones aren't always here for our kids or the next generation.


So this book was super personal as a reflection of our families as they change, our families as they transform and expand and really hoping that kids understand that even though you may not meet, you know, your mother's mother, your grandparents, um, that their hopes and their values and their stories live on through the family that you still have that's still present. So super personal and been part of the book too.


Dr. LaToya Council: My immediate family consists of my sister and I. And so I am the youngest between the both of us and our parents actually passed away when we were, you know, kind of young. So our dad passed away when we were kids and our mom passed away when we were young adults.


But following up on this conversation about nuclear family and extended family, my extended family, those who live out, who lived outside of my home up until I lost my mom, I'm really, really close to them. So my grandma, my aunt, uncle, and a host of cousins.


I also have many friends who are, like, my chosen family. They're like, they're there for me and they support me. They show me a lot of care and love. And that's happened a lot throughout my adult life.


And so a chosen family, which I wanna also get to that point of what does that mean? It is a type of family that we show in Love Without Bounds, in the book. So in writing Love Without Bounds, I really wanted to honor those relationships and bring them to life



[12:06] Feelings About Family Can Be Really Complicated


Matthew: Just as all families look different, the way families show love toward one another looks different. And, in some cases, for some people family can mean pain. And for some people family can mean shame. And for many people, family can explain or reveal why we think or talk or act a certain way.

The idea of family is a big one.


Dr. Chelsea Johnson: So, yeah, when I think of family, it's, it's like.. It's the people we love and the people who love us. But, as you mentioned Matthew, it's like so much bigger than who we're related to by blood or the people or groups that choose us.

And like I think that one of the really tough things, and I think all three of us shared kind of some of the tough things about our own families that, you know, they're not always present, they're not always affirming, they're not always comfortable.


And that's life. So, in short, family can be really complicated. I think that's like, that's one word too. It can be complicated. It can be a hug. It can be confusing. Iit could be loving. It could be scary all at the same time. And when I think about like a message that I want kids to know, or young readers to know, is that, you know, throughout the course of our lives, we may lose family, we may find family, we may rediscover family, we create our own families. And that's, you know, that's why we think of loving without bounds really. It's that. Because it is complicated and it, it can be tough and it can evolve.



[13:42] Loving Without Bounds


Matthew: Have you heard someone use the phrase, “Loving without boundaries” before? To love without bounds takes courage, and vulnerability, and openness. To many, it’s just the way you love. Plain and simple. But it’s the very thing that has the power to connect us all.


Dr. Carolyn Choi: “Loving Without Bounds” is a phrase that emphasizes how families don't fit into a single mold. There is no type of family that is normal or best. But there's also a deeper meaning that we wanna share, which is that this book is more about just this lesson of diverse families or acceptance, but it's about us also thinking about the structures that shape or, um, sometimes impede family life, right?


And so, this is where we, we're sociologists. So this is where we wear our sociology hats. Um, and we were trying to think about like, you know, our training is to think about how individuals are kind of shaped by the bigger forces around us.


And so, um, in the book we really try to explain to a larger readership that it's forces like governments, like culture, like economics, that really play roles on who we can love, throughout our history. Right.


And this is actually a topic that we introduced in our first book in IntersectionAllies, where we introduce this idea of intersectionality to talk about how our experiences are different based on how we fit within unequal systems that depend on our class, our race, our gender, our ethnicity, our citizenship, and so much more.


And so that's a little bit about what we, you know, like the lesson that we wanna teach kids to think about, um, the systems in place that, you know, whether or not they allow us to be together. And they often determine what makes a family or not, right?

And so they're, you know, it's also kind of promoting this message of we need to advocate for all families to be able to live and love and, you know, exist alongside one another. Right.


And um, lastly, um, this book is also about the interconnectedness between the personal and the political. And so global conflicts like wars, laws about who has the right to marry, who has the right to divorce, economic forces. All of this creates situations where parents have to choose between physical closeness and making ends meet sometimes. And how that shapes how we show love, right?


We have a transnational family, a mother who is away from her family, a continent away, in order to make ends meet, you know? And we're sharing the message that “This is what we mean when we say you're loving without bounds.” That that is still a form of love and we want to kind of juxtapose that or share it next to other stories of different ways to show love in a different family form.



[17:19] What Kind of Reader Did You Have In Mind?


Matthew: Love Without Bounds is a book that feels intentional. What I mean by that is, it’s not an accident that so many families and so many individuals have the opportunity to feel seen and celebrated in this book.


Dr. LaToya Council: We did have readers in mind exactly what she was saying. Um, Particularly kids who don't often see their families represented in popular family stories about childhood. Right?


So, very quick story. So when we first started on our tour, um, with intersection allies, we were at a school in LA and there was a mom of the audience and she raised her hand and she was like, “You know, making room for all helps me connect with my son.” Particularly she was talking about like teaching him how to be a friend with everyone. And then she further explained how her son had a friend who had two moms and the other kids in school were questioned, right. That his friend's family about why isn't there a dad in the home. The obsession with having there being this male figure that if we talk to anyone outside of like two moms or you know, you'll find that people kind of get a little obsessed with this idea of a dad being present in a home.


And so, moments like that, we thought about it and it was like, you know, this initial reader we have in mind as we started writing Love Without Bounds showing that that are at the, the top of the, what we said, the family hierarchy, right? Of the, the ladder of who's the best family.


And so we wrote for those children. And, as you mentioned and as we've been saying, we also wrote for our younger selves, right as we were working on character development, we reflected on our childhoods how we felt when we experienced the loss of a parent due to incarceration or death or by divorce.


And even now as one of us is transitioning to parenthood, um, and so the readers we have in mind are youth that are going through ups and downs of family life and transformation, as well as the adults who continue to process the impact of childhood families and our current experiences as adults creating families of our own.



[19:45] An Artful Impact


Matthew: There is so much to take in in the beautiful art that Ashley Seil Smith created for Love Without Bounds. I’ve included some of the spreads on my website at matthewcwinner.com under this episode, but hearing Dr. Chelsea share about it is just so cool because it’s like all of the art is popping back into her mind like fireworks.


Dr. Chelsea Johnson: Ashley's work has everything to do with the vision of the book, and she also illustrated the first book IntersectionAllies, so we are, she's also a sister of ours. And making the book come to life visually. One of the most fun parts, one of the most collaborative parts.


So we're researchers.So we started by asking friends, you know, what was in your house growing up? What was on your wall, what's in your house now? Um, who's the supporting characters? What, you know, what. Hairstyles are people wearing. So we've got, you know, the cool grandma and they're the pug in a wheelchair, the house mother in the chosen family scene. They're all a result of conversations like that, but really we want readers to notice some of the cultural touchpoints too, like the ship over the fireplace and the Passover scene, jumping the broom at the, at the black wedding. Even like the leather dad sandals at the Juneteenth picnic were things that we were like, “Ashley, here's a picture of this. Like, these are what my dad would be wearing. Can you put those on him at the grill?”


So all of that stuff, you know, like the Midwestern landscape of the adoption scene, the really colorful Nuyorican wedding, the southwestern military scene. So really we were trying to evoke a sense of place and personality and those things aren't universal. They're also like really particular to some of the people that we spoke with and really wanted to, to make like that vision come to life.


There's just one other quick thing I'll share and I'm gonna kick it back over to you, Matthew, cuz I really wanna know what you noticed. But, we wanted to make sure that the art grows with readers, so for my very youngest nibblings, my favorite thing to do is play spot the cat in the art across the pages. And it's that little easter egg that's, it's also an IntersectionAllies, but like, before you can even read, it's just like, where's the cat? And that's just like a fun activity for the really littlest ones that, you know, we had a lot of fun with.


Matthew: One of the spreads that sticks with me is when we see the two deployed individuals who are running and on the neighboring page we see a family and on the TV is news of what's going on. And it strikes me how hearing the story from the family versus the way the story that the news is telling us is actually another barrier that Carolyn is talking about, about, about breaking down that boundary.


There's moments like that that occur in the book where I feel like this is really a whole picture. These are, these are moments, but these are, it, it's that what is the, “the universal is in this specific” right? Include those sandals, include these pieces because it's so specific, but it, by having it there, it will mean something to someone, whether or not it is the same connection that they would've made.







[23:09] A Message from Dr. Chelsea, Dr. LaToya, and Dr. Carolyn to You


Matthew: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed our time with Drs. Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi today. And I just cannot wait to hear from you about this book. Let me know if you find it in your library, read it in your classroom, or order a copy for your home.


CLC Collective was excited to share a message with you, spoken into the world for your ears to hear them.


Dr. LaToya Council: What we will say is we recognize that family can be tough, right? It's family. Talking about families is a tough topic. And so we begin and in all of our book readings with the practice of self-care.


And so when you see children tomorrow coming back from their breaks, we love for you to remind them that all of their hopes, feelings, and struggles matter. And that even in the moments in times that they don't feel family, to not worry because they will discover family again and again throughout life. Starting with this library room.



[24:16] Closing


Matthew: The Children’s Book Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner.


Follow the show wherever podcasts are found, and leave us a rating or review when you do. That helps us out a whole lot because it helps the show get discovered by and recommended to new listeners.


CLC Collective? Where can listeners find you?


Dr. Carolyn Choi: We're on all the social media. We're at IntersectionAllies on Instagram. We are at CLCcollective.com as well.


You can find the books at any big box bookstores as well as independent bookstores.


And then of course, Dottir Press, our press, D-O-T-T-I-R, also sells the book.


I just wanna say thank you so much for hosting. Thank you for supporting the book, Love Without Bounds. We are super appreciative of educators and librarians like yourself who, you know, are able to see the book and it's like full, you know, messaging and beauty.

And yeah. If there's any way we can support as well, we'd love to.Thank you for this opportunity.


Matthew: Visit matthewcwinner.com for a full transcript of this episode plus some questions that you can use as you think about this episode.


You can also reach out and let me know who is in your family? Who do you love? Write to me or send me a message at matthewmakespods@gmail.com. That’s M-A-T-T-H-E-W M-A-K-E-S P-O-D-S at gmail dot com.


Want a copy of Love Without Bounds? Jonah, where should our listeners look?


Jonah: Check your school or public library, your classroom, or, if you want to support independent bookstores, you can purchase a copy at Bookshop.org.


Matthew: I’ll have a link in the show notes.


Our podcast logo was created by Duke Stebbins (https://stebs.design/).


Our music is by Podington Bear.


Podcast hosting by Libsyn.


We are a proud member of Kids Listen, the best place to discover the best in kids podcasts. Learn more at kidslisten.org.


Anything else you want to share, Jonah?


Jonah: Have a wonderful day. And remember, you matter.


Matthew: Yes.


And, on that note… Be well. And read on.




End Of Episode

94 views0 comments
bottom of page