The Sound of Faith: 'Everything Possible' Goes from Folk Song to Gender-Inclusive Children's Book

The Sound of Faith: 'Everything Possible' Goes from Folk Song to Gender-Inclusive Children's Book

This new version of the beloved song replaces binary language. Learn how the author did it.

Illustration of young girl reading a book on a bed
© Alison Brown

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For forty years, the song “Everything Possible” has encouraged children and adults to live and love freely:

You can be anybody you want to be / you can love whoever you will / you can travel any country where your heart leads / and know I will love you still.

Now, the song is getting a new life: in the form of a picture book and updated lyrics that further embrace inclusivity.

Written in 1983 by Rev. Fred Small, who was a professional folk singer and songwriter before becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister, “Everything Possible” is a favorite among UUs, LGBTQIA+ choirs, folk singers, children, families, and others. It is hymn 1019 in the hymn book supplement  Singing the Journey and has been regularly performed by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and many other groups.

“It’s really been the greatest honor of my musical career that a song that I wrote has been so embraced by the LGBTQ community." –Rev. Fred Small

“It’s really been the greatest honor of my musical career that a song that I wrote has been so embraced by the LGBTQ community,” says Small, minister for climate justice at Arlington Street Church in Boston. Small wrote the song at the request of a lesbian friend whose young son was struggling to be gentle and kind when the world often insisted boys be tough and strong.

How the children's book Everything Possible came to be

In late May 2023, Everything Possible, by Small and Northern Ireland-based illustrator Alison Brown, was published as a children’s picture book by Nosy Crow, an independent publisher based in London. Its June release coincided with the song’s fortieth anniversary and with Pride Month.

Brown contacted Small three years ago to suggest they put his beloved song into picture-book format. A QR code inside the book takes readers to free audiobook versions of Everything Possible, both sung and spoken by Small. A Spanish edition, Todo lo posible, was translated by Brian Folkins-Amador, one half of the Pan-Latin music duo Sol y Canto, and features sung and spoken audio by Sol y Canto’s other half, Rosi Amador.

For the book, Small made two changes to the song lyrics. To minimize gender-binary language, he changed, Some women love women, some men love men / Some raise children, some never do, to Some women love women, some men love men / Some leave every label behind.

The other change was to remove gender-specific language in the song’s lines, There are girls who grow up strong and bold / There are boys quiet and kind. In the book, he writes, Some children grow up strong and bold, while some are quiet and kind.

Small, who is a straight, cisgender man, had been contemplating the changes for some time, and made them after consulting with trans and nonbinary friends and colleagues. His hope for the book, he says, is “the same hope I have for all the songs I ever wrote: That they give people solace and a sense of solidarity, a sense of power, and a sense of possibility.”

Everything Possible is available from inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop and other retailers.

Watch the Everything Possible book trailer

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