Last week, I shared something really personal: I came out to my 8-year-old niece. Since then, I’ve received some wonderful words of support and, perhaps more importantly, some really great book recommendations to further my discussions with young people about what it means to be LGBTQ+. All the books I sent my niece were focused on gay (white) men—yikes!—so I’m thrilled to take this opportunity to share more books (with her and with you) to include a broader representation of the LGBTQ+ community.
NOTE: While we’re on the topic of LGBTQ+ literature, allow me to shamelessly plug the Rainbow Book List, an annotated list of LGBTQ+ literature for children and young adults that is published annually by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association (ALA). I’m currently serving on the committee that will publish next year’s list—hence why I’ve been pretty quiet about LGBTQ+ books published this year. I can’t wait to be able to share our work with you.
In the meantime, though, here are some recommended titles from other librarians, parents, children’s lit professionals who commented on my blog post on Facebook/Twitter (you can follow me @thestoriesguy). I also threw in a few others that I didn’t include last week. Please comment with any we might have missed!
Austrian, J.J. Worm Loves Worm. illus. Mike Curato.
Worm loves worm, and everyone wants to chime in on how their wedding should or shouldn’t conform to traditional wedding standards.
Ludwig, Trudy. The Invisible Boy. illus. Patrice Barton.
My friend Catharine told me about this one. It doesn’t present as overtly LGBTQ+, but if you read between the lines of this story you might see budding romance between two second grade boys.
Herthel, Jessica & Jazz Jennings. I Am Jazz. illus. Shelagh McNicholas.
An autobiographical picture book about Jazz Jennings, a prominent trans-youth activist. Though it’s ultimately positive, the book doesn’t shy away from the bullying Jazz experienced or her family’s initial struggle.
Newman, Lesléa. Heather Has Two Mommies. illus. Laura Cornell.
The original is now a collectible. But I think this reissue is better (and, now, more affordable). Students in Heather’s classroom draw family pictures. Heather worries that her family will be the only one that’s different.
Pittman, Gayle. This Day in June. illus. Kristyna Litten.
A picture book about the history of Pride. The text is simple but anyone who has been to a parade will recognize a lot in the pictures.
Schiffer, Miriam B. Stella Brings the Family. illus. Holly Clifton-Brown.
One of my all-time favorites. Mother’s Day is coming in Stella’s classroom and all students are invited to bring their moms. Stella has two dads.
Walton, Jessica. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship. illus. Dougal MacPherson.
Teddy knows she’s a girl and that her name is actually Tilly, but she worries what her best friend Errol will say.
O’Neill, Katie. Princess Princess Ever After.
Princess rescues princess, they fall in love, and all is right in the world. I love this book so much I reviewed it in our local paper.
Telgemeier, Raina. Drama.
I actually haven’t read this one but all Telgemeier books fly off the shelves at my library. It’s more middle school than elementary, but the style and theatricality will surely appeal across ages.
Federle, Tim. Better Nate than Ever.
Nate wants to be on Broadway, so he cooks up a plan to get to NYC and audition for a musical version E.T. (something I wish was real). Pairs well with Drama.
Gino, Alex. George.
Such a revolutionary book for this age. George decides that if she can play Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web, her mom will finally see that she is a girl.
Riordan, Rick. The Hammer of Thor.
Riordan’s ever-popular mythology-based books now turn to Norse gods and, in this book, the concept of gender-fluidity. A surefire hit for young readers. I’m sure they’re already reading it without you noticing its LGBTQ+ content.