It’s been seven years since I published my first LGBTQ book list for children. That list had nine books on it, and they were all focused on families. Since then, there has been a shift, and books that include and focus on kids and families in the LGBTQ community are more diverse in all different ways. We still have a long way to go both in publishing and in getting these books on bookshelves, in the hands of children, and being read by teachers during storytime. The world is a big place with all kinds of people. Parents and teachers alike want to teach their children to be kind yes, ut to also recognize and do something when things aren’t fair. We can not do that without making our bookshelves and storytimes inclusive too. We can not tell our children everyone is worth the same, everyone deserves respect, and then make these books “a sensitive subject” to only be discussed at home because some think they are inappropriate for school. That teaches our children that these topics are shameful, that these books are taboo, and in turn, that the families and people portrayed in them are. That gets us nowhere. LGBTQ children and their families deserve to be represented, celebrated, and included in all parts of life, including all bookshelves and storytimes. I hope you will find a few great books to use to create lesson plans, for a fun read-aloud, and to reflect our amazingly diverse world. In this list of 72 LGBTQ books, some are board books while others are chapter books perfect for tweens. Read through and see which are perfect for your students and children.
72 LGBTQ+ Books For Children
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Neither by Airlie Anderson is a sweet and super colorful book about exclusion and inclusion. There has never been a bunny bird before, so when one hatches and wants to play, the bunnies and the birds both exclude the bunny-bird. Luckily for our awesome friend, they find a new place where individuality is celebrated and celebrates with LOTS of colors. Children love guessing what mix of animals make up each colorful creature, but the message about inclusion and being free to be your authentic self is front and center.
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian is a beautiful book about what really matters when two people or worms want to be married – love. Worm and Worm are deeply in love, and although they don’t fit into the traditional wedding customs, they still make it work. All their bug friends join in with wedding planning, and as they hit questions like who will be the bride or groom, they accept Worm and Worm’s decisions on how to do things their way. This is a cute book that helps to drive home the point that there is not only ONE way to love or have a wedding.
Morris Micklewhite and The Tangerine Dress By Christine Baldachinno has been a reader suggestion for as long as I’ve been publishing this list. I finally got my hands on it, and I can see why. Morris is just who he is and who Morris happens to be a boy who loves to dress up in an orange dress. The adults in the story don’t pass judgment. They support Morris for who he is without labeling or shaming. It takes some time for all the kids to be accepting. But soon, their similarities and mutual interests overcame the differences, and everyone plays together. Not a bad lesson for the rest of us!
Love Makes A Family by Sophie Beer is a sweet and simple board book that is perfect for any toddler and preschool class. The book has a simple sentence on every page about what love is like chasing away monsters, baking a cake, reading together with all different family structures represented including same-sex and interracial couples. The important part of this book is that every family is shown as a loving norm. There is no long explanation, or any for that matter, or pointing out that this family might be different from yours, just a bunch of families doing their thing. Great for any classroom!
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen is a sweet book about a little guinea pig, Chloe, and her issues with her uncle getting married. Now you might think that the problems are around the fact that he’s marrying another male guinea pig, but that’s not it at all. The issues are about how close Chloe is to Uncle Bobby, and she is afraid that when he is married, that will change. This is a great book that normalizes same-sex weddings and focuses instead on the things that matter most to the children. Kids don’t care that their uncle is marrying a man; they want to know how they are going to be affected.
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding – updated with new illustrations. I love this book, and the new illustrations by Lusia Soto turn it into a totally different book. Two of my favorite things about the updated version is that Chloe and Uncle Jamie have glasses, as well as the fact that Uncle Jamie and Uncle Bobby aren’t the same race. The added diversity creates a richer book, I think. Also, the illustrations are stunning page after page after page!
A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo by Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss
I love this book, I love it because it teaches a lot of lessons, but I also know that this book would be hard to put on a school shelf because it is very partisan. The story is about Marlon Bundo, Vice President Pence’s bunny, who is gay and wants to get married. Sadly, he can’t because the Stink Bug in charge is not allowing it. The story is lovely because it talks about how people do have the agency to make changes, it talks about how being different is great, and love is love. However, the ( hilarious) jabs at the current administration would probably really really ruffle many feathers. This is a great book, but I doubt many teachers would feel comfortable using their classroom to so specifically speak negatively about the government.
ABC A Family Alphabet Book by Bobbie Combs is a great alphabet book that doesn’t aim to explain same-sex families; it just includes them. There is no mention of specifics because the families in this book are just families. We never explain heterosexual couples and families, so this is a powerful way to normalize all different family structures. The book goes through all different things families do together, and there is a big mix of same-sex parents, single parents, and bi-racial families all doing their thing… being families together!
A Peacock Among Pigeons by Tyler Curry is a humorous and touching look about standing out from the crowd when you aren’t necessarily trying to. Peter, the peacock, tries to blend in with the pigeons, but he can’t no matter how hard he works. The story is about how, after he had left the pigeons, he met colorful birds that accepted him and themselves for the ways they were unique, and from that, Peter started to love himself. Great story for every child!
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert is a story about a little boy who doesn’t feel like a boy and dreams of the most amazing dresses every night. He tries to tell his family about his dreams, but they brush them off, insisting that he is a boy and boys shouldn’t dream of dresses. His family is not accepting at all, and you must know that. It was hard to read, but this as an opportunity to talk about adversity. What I love about this book is that while the narrator refers to Bailey as she, all of Bailey’s family refers to Bailey as a boy. Only Laurel, an older girl who accepts Bailey as she views herself, calls her a girl. The book itself is amazingly creative and a great book about accepting and respecting people for who they are, not for who society tells us they “should” be.
My Two Dads Are Amazing by Pablo Fernandez is a simple little book about how typical a two-dad family is. Ben’s two dads are just like parents everywhere, but they have a secret that makes them different, and Ben is a little shy about sharing it. I like this book because it does a great job of showing the mundane every day relatable things about all families.
Phoenix Goes To School by Michelle and Phoenix Finch is about the first day of school for a little girl named Phoenix, who is transgender. What I really appreciate about this book is that readers meet Phoenix, and in the first few pages, we learn that she was born a boy but identifies as a girl, and then the rest of the book is just about school anxiety really. Why I think this is brilliant is that when a child is accepted for who they are bein is really just one thing about them, it doesn’t explain their favorite color, or favorite flower, or if they wake up early and like to do handstands. I think this little book is really very powerful because it does a brilliant job of showing that Phoenix is just like other kids who want to fit in.
My Awesome Brother by Lise Frances is OK. I hate giving books poor reviews, but I have a few issues with this book. The first issue is that the child in this book is trying to make their sister happy in really co-dependent ways that oversimplify what transgender means or the experience of transgender people. The second issue is the writing isn’t very creative or engaging. I included this book because I know many educators are eager to find good books for their classrooms and to recommend. This isn’t it.
Molly’s Family by Nancy Garden had both my kids captivated when I read it to them at lunch yesterday. The story is about Molly, who is in Kindergarten and her two moms. After she draws a picture at school of her family, a classmate tells her she can’t have two moms. There are many things I love about this book, but most of all, it is the adult reactions to this child saying it’s not possible that I found engaging. Molly’s classmate that was sure two moms was simply impossible, wasn’t told that he was wrong. Instead, the teacher discussed how different every family was and how Molly’s family was just as much a family as his or any other.
I loved even more how Molly became shy about displaying her drawing because it gives adults a chance to talk about the power of words and how dismissing people can hurt. I also loved how the next day, the little boy who was so sure that two moms weren’t possible was cool with it. He just didn’t know it was a possibility, and I think that is a good reminder for why books like this matter.
Love is Love by Micheal Genhart, Ph.D. is different than most of the other books on this list as it tackles the subject of discrimination and homophobia from a child’s perspective. The narrator is a boy with two dads who is proud of his family, and as he talks about his family with a friend, it’s clear there are a lot more similarities than differences. I think this book would be wonderful for Prek and up, especially early elementary age, as you discuss bullying and discrimination. I appreciate how the main character is so self-confident and proud of his family. Also, the illustrations by Ken Min weave together a global view of pride as the same tee-shirt the narrator is wearing shows up on people all over the globe throughout the book. Loved that!
Rainbow A First Books Of Pride by Micheal Genhart, Ph.D. explores the pride flag and what each color represents. The text is simple, it gives each color a word, and then the illustrations show families, both straight, lesbian, and gay, doing different activities that fit that word. This colorful book is so uplifting and a great introduction to what the pride flag and pride mean to the LGBTQ+ community. One thing I especially like is that there is affection shown between a gay couple in this book, and it stood out. It doesn’t seem like in 2020, two men kissing should stand out, but it did, but in the best way. Books show affectionate heterosexual couples, and there is no reason to omit any other type of couple, so bravo for that!
Maiden and Princess by Daniel Haak and Isabel Galupo is adorable. The maiden goes to a ball because the King and Queen are looking to marry off their son, who is a good friend of hers, but when she gets there, she falls in love with someone else, his sister. Two things stand out to me about this book; first, that the royal family is Black without any mention of it and that they are super supportive of their daughter and the maiden falling in love. The illustrations by Becca Human capture the feeling of a medieval castle ball, and the rhyming text makes this a fun book to read out loud.
Prince & Knight by Daniel Haak is the male counterpart to the previous book with a few changes. This time the prince’s family is looking for a princess for him, but since he’s gay, none fit the bill. When he goes to slay a dragon, he finally meets his true love, a brave knight who was also going up against the dragon. They defeat it and fall in love. Two things I love about this book; both the prince and the knight are brave and like to fight, and they save each other. Also, like in Maiden and Princess, the royal family is supportive of their love and eventual marriage. Oh, and the dragon is pretty rad too.
Ho’onani Hula Warrior by Heather Gale is a sweet look at Hawaiian culture as well as gender diversity. Ho’onani is a child who doesn’t feel like a boy or a girl but rather in the middle. When Ho’onani’s school is preparing to perform a traditional Hula chant, Ho’onani wants to be a part of it, even if it’s traditionally for boys. The audition goes well, and soon, she (Ho’onai uses female pronouns) is not only chosen for the performance, but she is given the role of leader. Awesome right? Not so much, her sister is not happy because she can’t understand why Ho’onani “rejects” so many female things. Of course, in the end, her sister realizes that she isn’t rejecting anything; she is just expressing who she is and where she is on the spectrum of gender; in the middle.
George, by Alex Gino, is a beautiful book. The author weaves an engaging story about George, who is in the 4th grade and hiding something huge from everyone. He’s not a he on the inside at all; she is a she. This story about a transgender girl is especially touching because it’s from her perspective. No article or documentary has given me a deeper understanding of some of the feelings of someone who is young, and transgender may feel like this book has. My daughter begged me to read it to her in Kindergarten, and I thought she’d get bored, but instead, it remains one of her favorite books to this day. She loved it at 5, though the suggested age is middle elementary and up.
Rick, by Alex Gino is a companion chapter book to George with some familiar characters like Melissa and Kelly but some new ones too. In this book, Rick, who is 11, is at a stage of discovery with puberty and middle school, and he feels different. He especially feels different from his best friend, Jeff, who is a homophobic bully. Most of all, he feels different because he’s not interested in girls or boys. As Rick’s self-discovery continues, he learns what each letter in LGBTQIAP+ stands for when he discovers his school’s Rainbow Spectrum club and can identify as asexual/aromantic. Another wonderful part of this book is Rick’s relationship with his grandfather Ray who adds another dimension and level of understanding about the spectrum Rick is learning all about.
They, He, She, Me, Free to be me! by Maya Gonzales and Matthew SG is a little book that uses vibrant images of all kinds of people and their preferred pronouns. The message is clear that pronouns matter and that who you might think is a he is they and someone you might call she is a he… what matters is that no one but the person determines their pronoun and we respect that. This is a great book with lots of resources at the end to talk about why pronouns matter and their role in respecting others.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Micheal Hall is one of my very favorite picture books. It makes me cry because it tackles huge emotions with simple words and illustrations. They take my breath away. All crayons come with a label, but is that label always, right? Red came from the factory with a red printed on his red label, but even when he tried, and trust me, he tried, all he could do was color blue. It’s not until he is asked by purple to draw him a blue ocean that he finally finds a place where he belongs. While this book doesn’t specifically speak about being transgender, if your child has any understanding of it, they will make the connection; I know mine both did. Also, the book is a really simple introduction to the idea of what being transgender means.
King and King by Linda de Haan is a fairytale and a funny one at that. I don’t want to call it a fractured fairytale because there is nothing broken about this love story.
The queen is old and cranky and wants her son to take over the kingdom, but he must be married to do so. He tells her he’s not really into princesses, but Mama doesn’t take the hint. After finding fault with every princess presented to him, he falls in love at first sight with a prince, and they live happily ever after. I like the whimsical illustrations, and my kids thought the prince was funny. My son thought the book had a twist at the end with the princes falling in love, but just like the queen in the story, there was no debate over why.
I like that this book uses the familiar fairytale structure to make a meaningful statement about the existence of same-sex marriage and can be a great icebreaker to talk about it with your kids.
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel is a book all about Jazz – a real-life little girl who is transgender. The book is a relatable introduction to what being transgender means on a level children can relate to. In my experience, children accept Jazz and her story quickly. There might be some giggles, but after the initial “Wow, I never knew that was possible.” they see a kid being a kid. This book was a favorite bedtime story for my daughter for many years.
Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman is about Jacob, who likes to wear dresses. Unlike Bailey in 10,000 dresses, Jacob is accepted by the majority of his peers and, more notably, his family. His parents encourage him to be himself cautiously. I liked that throughout the story, his parents softened their stance as Jacob became more confident about how he felt and how he’d handle teasing. Jacob gets teased, but he is also accepted, which makes this book a great discussion starter with any child. Whether they have a child in their school, who may dress in gender non-conforming ways or a family member who is transgender, not all boys who wear dresses are going to identify as transgender, non-binary, or gay, and this book doesn’t say they will. Instead, it says to be yourself whoever that may be.
The Hips On The Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish by Lil Miss Hot Mess is so much fun! This reimagining of The Wheels on the Bus is so much fun to read out loud and perfect for an active storytime! Get your wiggles out while you read this bright, colorful book. I have had educators express that drag queens aren’t appropriate for preschool, and I have to laugh, drag queens are people playing dress-up, what could be more appropriate?! This book is rad.
My Two Moms and Me by Micheal Joosten is another board book I am excited to add to this list. There is actually a two-dad version too, but the books are so similar I’ll review them together. The premise is the same with both books. The story follows a child with his or her two moms throughout the day doing mundane baby and kid stuff. The text is a little tongue in cheek, which parents will appreciate, I love a good sassy comment here and there. What I also love is that the illustrations on each page show a different two-mom family. There are all kinds and the dad version is the same. What I did notice was how beautiful every human in these books are, they are all supermodels!
Santa’s Husband by Daniel Kibblesmith is a cute book that I was a little nervous to read because, like so many people, I have very sentimental emotional connections to Santa. These sentimental views of who we think he should be are deep. The book addresses these assumptions and shows a loving relationship between Santa and his husband. I love that it helps to start the conversation about how we see Santa – is he black? Is he white? Does he have a husband or wife? This story would be a great book to snuggle up with and have some deep conversations. I think this book is compelling and worth reading to see if it’s the right book for your family.
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis has been talked about so much I think I had inflated expectations. Don’t get me wrong. I think the message is so important, and the book does a good job of introducing readers to her son who doesn’t fit into a binary definition of gender. It explores how he gets hurt when people laugh at him and how great his family is at supporting him. I like how simply blunt the book is. And it should be because the lesson should be about acceptance and allow people, especially children, to express their true self even if it doesn’t fit the narrow definition we have given it. I think I was expecting more of a story even though I knew it was nonfiction. It opened a great dialog with my son when he was five about how he would treat a male friend if they wanted to dress in a dress. Good discussion at our house, worth the read for sure!
Papa, Daddy, and Riley by Seamus Kirst is an important book not so much because it has two dads, but because it tackles how mean children can be especially when they have a narrow view of the way things work. Riley goes to school and is confronted by a classmate who says only one of her dads can be her REAL dad. In the end, Riely’s dad helps her understand that families are all different in so many ways not just if they have two dads. No family is more valid than the other because what makes a family is love, not some arbitrary definition. The beautiful illustrations by Devon Holzwarth bring this multi-racial family, to life page after page.
The Purim Superhero by Elisabeth Kushner is a wonderful story about being proud of who you are. The author uses the story of Queen Esther, along with the character’s two dads, as examples of finding strength in showing your true self. Those examples help Nate decide what he will be for the Purim costume parade. I won’t give away the story, but it’s fantastic, original, and utterly true to who he is. I love that this book packs in so much diversity without any over the top preachiness. Kids love the story!
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy is a wonderful early chapter book about a family with four adopted sons and two dads. What I love about this book is that in a subject matter that is so often shared more with girls, this book makes no bones about being aimed at boys. Girls will like it, too (my daughter certainly did), but elementary-aged boys are its target. I know because my son gobbled it up. It’s not just about having two dads. It’s more about how no family is ever perfect, how making mistakes is part of growing up, and all the trouble four boys and one imaginary jaguar can get into. This is a must-read if you are looking for a chapter book on this LGBTQ book list for children.
My son was so excited to read the 2nd installment of the Family Fletcher, The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island, and for a good reason. I think this book may be even better than the first, and we loved the first. My son connects with this family so well. That is such a statement about the power of books because the family in this book has two dads and four sons of all different races. Our family is what many call “traditional” with a mom, dad, an older brother, and younger sister. The power of diverse books is real! Grab these two books for your Kindergarten through 5th graders; they will love them! But be prepared for a lot of laughs, they are very, very, funny!
This Would Make A Good Story Someday by Dana Alison Levy is a spin-off story from the Family Fletcher series that follows a family with two moms, three daughters, and one daughter’s boyfriend on a cross country train trip. I love this chapter book because the daughters are all such full characters, and the author does such a good job at capturing their specific ages and stages so well. I read a review of this author’s work somewhere, and it compared her to the great Judy Blume, and I think it was a fair comparison. She tackles big things, big emotions with big love and big laughs just like Judy Blume.
Our Rainbow by Little Bee Books is a simple board book that goes through the Pride flag color by color, explaining what each color stands for. Every color is illustrated by different artists who give this book a taste of real diversity as the different colors come together to make the flag. You might not be familiar with a Pride Flag with black and brown, but these colors were added to some to celebrate members of the LGBTQ community that are Black and People of Color.
Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love is a world I want to live in where women and children and even chihuahuas can be mermaids if they please, they just need the costume. In this story, a little boy who LOVES mermaids is on the metro with his Abuela and sees women dressed as mermaids, and his imagination runs wild. When he gets home, he transforms himself into a mermaid while his Abuela is busy. When his Abuela interrupts, she thinks he may be in trouble, heck we all believe he may be in trouble, but the end is far from it. While this book doesn’t overtly address the LGBTQ community the experience of showing a loved one who you are and worrying that they may reject that speaks to the topic as does the fact that Julian is going against gender stereotypes as he dresses like a mermaid. This book is easily one of the best books I have read that celebrates a child’s true self, and I read a lot of picture books! GO, buy it now!
Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff is a story about Max, a little boy who is transgender and facing a difficult time as he starts school. Before the story starts, readers are introduced to Max and how he sees himself, including that he is transgender. Then readers are given an explanation about what transgender means. This makes this book so useful for parents or educators throttled by worry about how to explain this. It’s simple, and the book does a beautiful job. Next, it’s time for school, and Max comes up against some challenges, but with help from his parents and his supportive community, Max overcomes them. A few things I particularly like about this book that should be noted; there is a boy who likes to dress in dresses but clearly states, “I like being a boy.” and the book is divide into chapters. The chapters help families who are a little nervous about this topic to take it slow; read one chapter a night or use the chapters as natural pause points to discuss what the chapter was about.
When Aiden Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff represents a great evolution in books for kids. It brings together books about new babies and books about kids who identify as transgender. I am asked for these types of books all the time, and this book does a great job of explaining the many issues and specifics about how a family like Aiden’s would face a big change like a new baby. The book dives into how Aiden transitioned, his fears about the new baby, and how a loving, accepting family handles both.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee. This book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do. As a toddler, my daughter pointed out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text. So maybe you think what’s so great about babies and text that rhymes? The answer is nothing. That’s not what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of its diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families. The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest, most precious members with unconditional love.
What I adore about the diversity of the illustrations is that readers are left to put whatever assumption we wish on the families in the book. What I assumed were two mommies, my husband thought was a husband and wife. I saw an older lady as a grandma, and my son said it was just an older mom. This is why I love this book; my daughter doesn’t see why this message is outstanding. What she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all kinds of families being the norm. And this is the world we want her to know. In my classroom, over the past three years, this book was a favorite for children who were having separation anxiety. I would calmly sit down, get this big board book, and we’d look at the babies. It was such a great tool to help the child transition from fear to be calm and ready to participate.
Jamie is Jamie by Afseneh Moradian is a book that tackles the gender stereotypes we have and teach our children about play and toys. This book is very useful for older preschool classes and children start classifying things as boy toys and girl toys. I know I have had many discussions over the years in my classrooms to dismantle this idea that toys have a gender. This book is the perfect tool for that issue as Jamie plays with all toys, is not clearly a boy or a girl, and after Jamie plays with everything the rest of the class feels more empowered to play with all the toys as well.
Donovan’s Big Day by Leslea Newman is a book about Donovan’s day, leading up to being the ring bearer at his moms’ wedding. The book does a fantastic job of showing that children in same-sex families are just like children in any family. This day is a big day for Donovan. But before he hands them the rings and kisses the brides, he has a bunch of other things to do. I adore the illustrations by Mike Dutton and how he brings this little boy to life. Like so many of these books, this book is not about politics; it’s about a family celebrating their special day.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman was widely banned when it was first released and is still challenged today, along with many of the other books on this list. It is probably the best-known picture book about a family with same-sex parents because it is one of the very first. When you read it, the first thing you will probably think is that it doesn’t live up to the banning. I always imagine banned books being horribly offensive or graphic, and this book is about a family with a doctor, a carpenter, and their daughter. Heather is starting a new school, and she is nervous and exploring all the possibilities of what a family looks like, just as her classmates are. She recognizes that her family is different but not less than. The new edition has wonderfully colorful illustrations as is a significant improvement on the black and white ones from the previous versions.
Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesela Newman is a book about the everyday life of a family with two moms. What I appreciate about this book is that it showcases parts of the day that young toddlers through preschoolers can relate to easily. They have bath time; go to the park; they cook dinner. In other words, they are a family like any with a small child. My son loved this book and related easily to the baby in the book and to the experiences that they share when he was a toddler. The book makes no political statement, no explanation of two mommies and it shouldn’t. It’s a book targeted to toddlers about one loving family and nothing more. There is also a version with two dads called Daddy, Papa, and Me.
Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman has flown under my radar somehow until now… it’s such an excellent book. In the book, a little boy who adores everything that glitters and sparkles confronts kids who tell him he can’t like what he likes. With the help of his sister, who was initially against his love of things that aren’t stereotypically male, he realizes that he gets to decide what he likes, not other people. Questioning gender norms is essential if we want children to feel like they can express who they are without sanction and if we’re going to foster a community that accepts people for who they are as well, this book helps do that.
A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager is a book about a little girl with two daddies. She is playing with a friend who is asking her how it works to have two daddies. He asks her the type of questions any young child might, and she answers them as they play together. I like this book because it addresses the sorts of questions young kids have about same-sex families. And most of all, it explains how similar all families are, no matter who is a part of it. I love that the illustrations are done from the perspective of the young children, only showing the adults from about knee level and down. Cute, bright book and my daughter loves it.
A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager. The first thing I noticed about this book was actually the illustrations by Mike Blanc. They are so vibrant, and they are all from the perspective of the child, which is great. The story is excellent too; it’s actually a collection of questions from two friends asking a third about how his family with two mommies work. Sometimes adults go straight for the big deep issues. But kids just want to know which mom is the one to coach little league and which one bakes cakes. The overall feeling readers are left with is that this little boy’s life isn’t all that different at all.
A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary is fantastic! This book starts with a child nervous to talk about their family because it’s not like everyone else. Soon as all the students share things that make their families unique, the child sees all families are different, but they are all families. I love that what the children share about their families isn’t the label most adults would put on the family in the illustration, which is a great gut check for our own biases. It labels the same sex family as “Both my moms are terrible singers.” instead of “I have two moms. They are lesbians.” This is a much more inclusive way to present families, not to mention more natural. It includes many different family structures from same-sex parents, to single parents, big families, families with a new baby, interracial families, families with divorced parents, families with foster children, and more.
The Family Book by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family. It doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher, I appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. It makes mention of some families having two moms or two dads in the same vein as all the other similarities and differences. Kids see that families are not all like theirs. And it’s essential to validate the truth while recognizing that families may not all look alike but that all families are made with love. Great book, cute illustrations, and children love it. I used this book in every preschool class I have ever taught from ages 2-5, and all kids loved it.
Who Are You? A kid’s guide to gender identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee is an excellent resource for parents and teachers who want to discuss gender identity with young children. So often we think that children have a hard time with these ideas, but in my experience children have a much easier idea than most adults. This book does an effective job at introducing concepts but breaking them down into straightforward terms. It also has a terrific guide for adults as well.
My Footprints by Bao Phi is an inspiring story about Thuy, a little girl who is stomping home in the snow after being bullied at school for being different. In Thuy’s case, the bullies are using the facts that she is a Vietnamese American and has two moms as ammunition for their vitriol. As Thuy makes footprints in the snow, she imagines different animals, and when she gets home, her two moms who can tell something is up play with her as a way to connect and find out what’s up. The three explore various mythical creatures from their different cultural heritages. Eventually turning into one strong imaginary animal that is kind and strong and never bullies anyone. This is a lovely book about how families are strong and support each other. I am so happy to add this book to my LGBTQ+ book list for children.
A Church For All by Gayle E. Pittman is a wonderful book primarily if you teach at a church-run preschool or Sunday school. I just absolutely LOVE this book because it embraces all the diversity you find in a church — the wiggling toddlers, rich and poor, all kinds of families, abilities, and more. The colors are bright and inviting, and the book’s message is simple that church doors should be open to all. What is so powerful about this book is that traditionally churches have been closed off to the LGBTQ community, and this book tears down that wall in the most loving way. My daughter loved it except the page about passing the peace because it’s her least favorite time at church!
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman is the first picture book I have ever read that is all about an LGBTQ Pride parade. I loved the book, and both my children loved the illustrations. If you have never been to a pride parade, read this book to see what you are missing. I took my son to the pride parade in San Francisco when we lived there in 2007, and it was terrific. Children can learn a lot from experiencing the joy and community of a pride parade. Learning that just marching in a parade like this was once impossible for people in the LGBTQ+ community is profound for children, and it helps explain why Pride month exists.
When You Look Out The Window by Gayle E. Pitman is a look at how two women helped make the San Francisco community open, accepting, and a place to celebrate the LGBTQ community. The text in this book is effortless, and it shows children how if you see a problem, you have the power to fix it and make your community a better place for everyone. There are extensive notes at the back of the book that gives more details about each part of the city and how it changed along the way. This is a great book about civic engagement and how to create inclusive spaces.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco is a lovely story of a family of two moms, three kids, and a big house in Berkley California that was witness to their years and years of love. Like many families that don’t fit the “normal” stereotype, these two moms and their kids faced opposition. The illustrations in this book show so well the emotions any parent would experience when an angry adult was threatening their family with children present. This book is about love. It is a window into a family that might be similar to yours or very different, possibly both. But one thing this family has in common with every family is the love that holds it together.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson is a much-debated book. It’s the true story of two male penguins in Central Park Zoo who didn’t have any interest in the girl penguins but liked each other, a whole lot. When the zookeepers noticed that they were in every way a matched pair, they also noticed that they prepared for a baby just like the other penguins. Time after time, they were sad until the zookeepers gave them an egg to take care of. Just like all families, love and care are what matters when creating a family. Because of that love baby, Tango and his two daddy penguins have thrived.
My son loved this book and asked me to please go and see the penguins when I was in NYC when he first read this book as a young preschooler hmm wonder if he still wants to see them (he’s 12 now), we are heading to NYC this summer! I think it’s a great book not only to explain how all families are different but also how love and care are really what makes a family, even for penguins.
Two Dads by Carolyn Robertson is a simple rhyming book about life with two dads. A little boy takes readers through a bit of a snapshot of his life with two dads, which is unsurprisingly, just like other two-parent families for the most part. I love that this book not only has two dads but also includes adoption and an interracial family. There are so many different kinds of families out there and the more we can add on our bookshelves the better.
Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders is perfect. Let me tell you why it tells the story of Harvey Milk who was an openly gay politician and activist who was assassinated but whose legacy can be seen in the steps forward in the years since his death. The book breaks down the contributions, and passion Harvey had for equality as well as why some people didn’t want him to succeed, and ultimately killed him. This biography reminds me of other biographies of great Americans like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks because it shows the courage and hope he had in the face of great adversity. I am always awed by the unrelenting hope so many changemakers posses. Many of our children now grow up in communities where overt homophobia is less apparent than it once was which is a good thing, but they still need to know about the people like Harvey who literally gave his life to make that happen.
Stonewall by Rob Sanders is an important book for children to read. This book tells the story of how the LGBTQ+ rights movement really took off, that it was because of harassment, specifically from police and unjust raids that finally tipped the scales and solidified action to demand rights. This book covers an important part of history that children are often not privy to. I was familiar with the Stonewall riots before reading this book but I learned more, specifically about the role members of the transgender community played in the riots and movement that came from them. The author is skilled in taking more complex events and bringing them down to their bones so even very young children can understand, and he does that perfectly with this book.
The Fighting Infantryman by Rob Sanders is a fascinating biography/ history book about Albert D.J. Cashier, a soldier in the Union army in the Civil War. Wait, isn’t this a list of LGBTQ books? You might be thinking. Yes, and this book is all about this soldier who was born Jennie Hodgers but later changed his name to Albert and lived as a man for the rest of his life. This book offers families and teachers so many opportunities for learning; about immigration, war, sexism, and of course, what it means to be transgender. A lot of people think that transgender or gender diverse people didn’t exist before the current day, but that’s just not true, this book helps teach that.
Stella Brings The Family by Miriam B. Schiffer is a charming book that my daughter immediately wanted to read again once we finished. In the book, we meet Stella, who has two dads and no mom to bring to the Mother’s Day party at her school. She frets about it and then decides to bring all the people who fill that role in her life. What I love about this book is that it doesn’t ignore that there are always bumps along the way for families that don’t fit the rigid norms that we so often uphold. This book does a great job of talking about it, recognizing Stella’s feelings, and finding a solution.
The Boy & The Bindi is a beautiful book about a little boy who is very curious about his mom’s bindi. Traditionally a bindi is worn my Hindu and Jain women and girls, but not boys or men. But his mom sees that he is curious and gives him his own and it awakens his sense of self and helps him express who he is. While this book doesn’t speak specifically of gender issues, the author is a transgender woman and in many ways, this book reminds me of Julien dressing as a mermaid. It pushes gender norms and forces readers to see that being yourself doesn’t always fit into specific pre-made boxes.
Queer Heroes by Arabella Sicardi is a wonderful resource book about all kinds of amazing people who identify as LGBTQ+ . This book gives brief biographies of all kinds of people from sports heroes to musicians, actors, and even royalty! I was super happy to see my fellow Albertan KD Lang included, as well as historical figures like Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo. This is not a great book for very young kiddos but for Prek and up it’s perfect.
Jack (Not Jackie) by Erica Silverman is a fantastic book about being a transgender boy with a sibling who isn’t so sure about your gender identity. Jack was born a girl and his older sister really loved having a little sister, now that Jack has transitioned to being a boy, his sister is having a hard time. This book shows how families may go through a grieving process and take some time to learn how their relationships may differ as well as stay the same. A great book, especially for families who are going through a transition process.
Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima is a last-minute addition, a reader told me about it, and as luck would have it I popped to the library and found it! This book is such a sweet story about a little girl who is prepping for her dress up a birthday party, and her imagination carries her away while she is shopping with her two dads. There is a lot to love about this sweet book, not just that it normalizes a family with two dads; it also celebrates imagination and adventure! While books explicitly addressing the LGBTQ community have a place, we need more books like this where a family is just a family, and everything is presented as normative and lovely because that’s just what it is. Also, Harriet has some rad costumes; I wish I could go to her party.
A Plan For Pops by Heather Smith is a great example of a book that includes an inter-racial gay couple but is about other issues entirely. In this story, a little boy spends his Saturdays with his grandparents, Grandad and Pops, and when Pops falls and needs to use a wheelchair from now on, things change. The sorry is really about change and watching our loved ones get older. It just happens to have two grandfathers in it. I cried reading this, maybe quarantine is getting to me, or maybe it’s refreshing to see affection between a man and his grandson as they navigate change to their family. This is a really lovely book. The reason books like this are important is because every book that includes LGBTQ+ characters shouldn’t be about LGBTQ+ issues. Just the same way every book with a Black protagonist shouldn’t be about race. It’s important to have both and show that everyone, no matter their identity, is complex and has so many parts to their identities.
Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson is another board book that goes color by color through the rainbow flag to highlight the symbolism of each color simply for young readers, but really its simple message is for little ones to be who they are and be loved unconditionally for it. The photos in the book show a mix of loving families and children of different races exploring and in affectionate poses with family. Toddlers will love the colors, the photos, and the simple rhyming text.
Zak’s Safari by Christy Tyner is a book about how Zak’s family became a family with the help of donor sperm. The book talks about how babies are made in a very age-appropriate way, saying daddies have sperm and mamas have eggs, and they come together to make babies. There is no discussion about sexual acts, just that. I think this book does a great job with this subject, which some parents feel very bashful about discussing. One of the things I adore about this book is how there are illustrations of the two moms snuggling and being affectionate. Often books about same-sex parents don’t show that, and I was happy to see that barrier broken with this book. My daughter loved this book, and we used it to talk more about same-sex families and how children come about. At age 7, she had assumed that all babies in same-sex families were adopted, so I was excited to share this with her.
Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton is a FANTASTIC book. What makes this book, about a teddy bear who is transgender, so amazing is that it accurately reflects most young children’s view and acceptance of someone who is transgender. When a member of our church came out as transgender, my then 4-year-old was like, “Cool, can I have some cookies.” and my then 7-year-old said, “So I shouldn’t say she anymore? OK.” and that was IT. I had already explained what transgender meant, and that was all they needed to accept someone. That is precisely what this book is like; Teddy is all sad and worried that her friends won’t accept that inside, she is a girl teddy even though outside she looks like a boy. She spills the beans, and everyone accepts her and her new name Tilly. I love how frank and straightforward this book is, and its focus on friendship is lovely. It’s perfect for any preschool and early elementary-aged kiddos.
We Are Family by Ryan Wheatcroft is an excellent book about a whole bunch of different families. The text is merely talking about all the things that make up a family, all the things that families do, how they help each other, stick together when things are tough, and play together too! It talks about how different families can be and how one family may be very different from another. The magic of this book is really in the illustrations which show a diverse group of families page after page doing completely mundane family things. There is a family with two dads and one with tow moms as well as a handful of other types of families. I love this book because family is a topic that all children can relate to and learning that families are diverse is a great way to learn that the world is.
Daddy’s Roommate by Micheal Willhoite is a little different from the other books in this list in that the child in the book has a mommy, a daddy, and daddy also has a roommate. The book was written in 1990 and even though we don’t often hear “roommate” as a euphemism for partner or boyfriend anymore, but in 1990 it was probably much more commonly used. That aside, the book does a fair job of explaining what this little boys life is like. Bug catching, reading, scary dreams it’s pretty average stuff, but he has three adults to care for him.
I also like that the boy’s parents are divorced, which will be something many readers will connect with. The book’s explanation of what gay means is really simple and perfect for the book’s audience. I do think that the pictures are dated, but I don’t think kids will pick up on that as much as adults will.
Home At Last by Vera B. Williams and Chris Raschka is a story about a little boy Lester, who after being in foster care, is adopted by two dads. He knows he should be happy with all these wonderful new things, but at night he is still scared. This is an excellent look at what anxiety and trauma look like and how loving parents respond. Eventually, the dog becomes his security buddy, and he can sleep at night and thoroughly enjoy his new life and new family.