In celebration of Pride Month, the national literacy nonprofit Reading Partners has released a list of LGBTQ+ inclusive children’s books for 2021.
The list focuses on age-appropriate topics for families and caregivers to discuss gender expression and sexuality. Reading Partners also hopes that the books can be used to help teach children love and acceptance for people of all orientations, and provide children who identify as LGBTQIA+ a chance to see themselves reflected in the stories they read.
About the List
“A list like this is important because it provides children who identify as LGBTQIA+ the opportunity to see themselves in the characters in children’s books,” Veronica Ferris, Distance Tutoring Coordinator at Reading Partners Baltimore tells Parentology. “What’s more, children who identify as LGBTQIA+ can benefit from seeing how characters who identify as LGBTQIA+ react to different situations and solve problems, which may help them in their own lives.”
Ferris works with the Baltimore City Public School System to provide an online literacy tutoring program for students in Kindergarten through 4th grade. She curated the list along with Kayla Weems, the Program Manager at Reading Partners Los Angles. Weems leads a team that oversees tutoring programs at several reading centers in the area.
Weems explains that the genesis for the list actually began years ago when she stumbled upon a copy of the book This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman in a local bookstore.
“At the time, I was working in early childhood education and I was ecstatic to find an LGBTQIA+ book written for preschool-aged kids,” she tells Parentology. “That really kicked off my passion for finding children’s books that showcased the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community and ultimately was the guiding principle in curating this book list.”
In addition to the books, Reading Partners recommends these tips for parents and caregivers looking to start a conversation about LGBTQIA+ with a child.
- Start early with age-appropriate topics.
- Listen to your child and be supportive, be honest, and encourage ongoing conversations.
- Break up big topics such as identity into smaller conversations so children have time to digest information and reflect.
LGBTQ+ Children’s Books for 2021
EDITOR’S NOTE: Parentology is not affiliated with Bookshop.org and does not make a commission off purchases made through these links.
This Day in June by Gale E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
This Stonewall Award-winning book is a colorful, whimsical, validating story of a Pride parade. Also included is a reading guide filled with facts about LGBT history and culture as well as a note to parents and caregivers with information on how to talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways.
They, She, He Easy as ABC by Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew SG
This book uses rhyme, song, and the alphabet to show the diversity of identity and explain how to use pronouns. It’s a great conversation starter to discuss pronouns and gender fluidity with children 3+.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole
This is the true story of two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who formed a pair-bond. A zookeeper gives them an egg, and together, the two penguins care for the egg and raise a penguin chick.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Laura Cornell
This book tells the story of Heather’s first day of school. The students in her class draw pictures of their families, and the students learn that families can be made up of many different family members.
Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
The title character is fascinated by the “mermaids” he meets on the subway and wants to be just like them. This Stonewall Award-winning picture book is a story about being seen for who we are by someone who loves us. Julián is a Mermaid has been translated into fourteen languages: Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Danish, German, Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Japanese, Dutch & Korean.
When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Aidan never felt himself in the clothes he wore, his girly room, and even the name his parents gave him. Once he realized he was a trans boy, Aiden and his family explore gender and identity as he becomes a big brother.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco
This book follows the story of a multiracial, same-sex-parented family. This book is ideal for older children and explores themes of adoption, overcoming prejudice, and unconditional love across a lifetime.
I Am Jazz co-written by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Based on Jazz’s experiences as a transgender child and told in a simple way that makes it easy for children to understand what it means to be trans.
The Boy and the Bindi by Vivek Shraya and illustrated by Rajni Perera
This story follows a South Asian boy fascinated by his mother’s bindi, a red dot worn on the forehead by Hindu women. By learning its cultural significance, he is able to live more authentically.