40 LGBTQ-Friendly Picture Books for Ages 0-5

To care for small humans, all you have to do is keep them fed, watered, rested and equipped with the necessary cognitive and emotional skills to process the constant onslaught of heterosexist and cissexist messaging that assaults our senses every day. No big deal, right?

I was one of those kids who inhaled books growing up — as I suspect many of you were too — but now as an adult in bookstores and libraries I’m often exasperated at the options available to my younger siblings. There’s so much I want to share with them, and it’s rarely easy to figure out how.

Adults can debate endlessly about when it’s appropriate to “expose” children to “sensitive” topics like sex and sexuality, gender expression and diversity, non-conventional methods of conception and so on, but kids don’t live in isolated bubbles — they’re right here in our complex, messy world with us. And for many of us and the kids in our lives — queer kids, kids of queer parents, kids who don’t otherwise belong to heterosexual two-parent families, kids with other queer relations — these “sensitive topics” don’t just exist in the abstract: they’re our lives! We owe it to these kids to help them make as much sense of themselves, their families and our society as possible. That’s where these LGBTQ-friendly books come in.

From personal experience, most of these titles will likely be hard to find in store. Buying them on Amazon through the affiliate links in this post will give Autostraddle a small kickback (thank you!), but if you’d rather shop local, plenty of our Queer Girl City Guides will point you to your closest queer bookstore. Try requesting them at non-specialist bookstores, too, so that other kids might find them. Don’t have small humans of your own to shop for? Queer picture books make great gifts (the shopping process is far less anxiety-inducing than trying to find suitable clothes, I promise) or your community library might have some use for them.


10,000 Dresses

Written by Marcus Ewert / Illustrated by Rex Ray

10000dresses

Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows… Unfortunately, when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary. “You’re a BOY!” Mother and Father tell Bailey. “You shouldn’t be thinking about dresses at all.” Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together. And Bailey’s dreams come true!


A is for Activist

Written and illustrated by Innosanto Nagara

aisforactivist

A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.


ABC: A Family Alphabet Book

Written by Bobbie Combs / Illustrated by Brian and Desiree Rappa

abcfamilyalphabet

Have fun with the kids, moms, dads and pets in this delightful book that celebrates LGBTQ families as it teaches young children the alphabet.


The Adventures of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy

Written by S. Bear Bergman / Illustrated by Suzy Malik

adventuresoftulip

Tulip deals with the birthday wishes of all the nine-year-olds in North America. When a wish Tulip is unfamiliar with crosses his desk, from a child known as David who wishes to live as Daniela, he seeks the wise counsel of the Wish Fairy Captain and learns some new Wish Fairy Skills. Tulip gets in a little hot water, but ultimately his compassion and thoughtfulness win the day.


And Tango Makes Three

Written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell / Illustrated by Henry Cole

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children’s book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who become partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.

And Tango Makes Three is one of the most challenged books in the US. In a recent incident that was pretty much internationally recognised as a gross move, the book was taken off the shelves — and slated to be pulped, lest its dangerous content fall into the wrong hands — by Singapore’s National Library Board together with The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption and Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families. Following public outrage, two of the books were later returned… to the adults’ section.

Roy and Silo aren’t the only same-sex penguin couples in the Central Park Zoo (just the most popular ones) and Tango later paired with another female penguin herself. However, the male penguins were eventually kicked out of their nest and split up, with Silo taking up with a female penguin named Scrappy and Roy joining a group of unattached males. Anti-gay crusaders would have parents tell their children the “truth” after reading this book and I wholeheartedly agree — not as a cautionary tale, but a wonderfully queer illustration of mutable sexualities and evolving relationships.


Backwards Day

Written by S. Bear Bergman / Illustrated by KD Diamond

backwardsday

Backwards Day, set on the planet Tenalp, introduces us to a world where there are seventeen seasons, including one where bubblegum falls from the sky for three days and a single day when everything — everything everywhere — is backwards. Andrea looks eagerly forward to Backwards Day every year, so she can turn into a boy for the day. But one year she doesn’t turn along with everyone else. She’s miserable. The very next day, however, she turns into a boy — and stays that way! He’s delighted, but his parents are distressed, and take him to the big city to consult with Backwardsologists.


Be Who You Are

Written by Jennifer Carr / Illustrated by Ben Ruhback

bewhoyouare

Based on the author’s experiences with her own children, this book traces the story of a young trans girl and her family. Born “Nick,” Hope’s family supports her when she says she no longer wants to be called a boy or dress like a boy. Her parents find a group for families like theirs.


The Boy Who Cried Fabulous

Written by Lesléa Newman / Illustrated by Peter Ferguson

boywhocriedfabulous

The only thing Roger likes better than exploring the world around him is describing it. And Roger describes most things as fabulous! But his parents have a different view. They want Roger to see things the way they do, so they ban “fabulous” from his vocabulary. Fabulously illustrated by Peter Ferguson, this cheerful tale will have children rejoicing along with Roger at all the fabulous — no, marvelous! no, dazzling! — things that await him when he steps outside.

This book has plenty of repetition, so it’s great read out loud in class. What could be more fabulous than a group of smalls yelling “fabulous”?


Daddy’s Roommate

Written and illustrated by Michael Willhoite

daddysroommate

This story’s narrator begins with his parent’s divorce and continues with the arrival of “someone new at Daddy’s house.” The new arrival is male. This new concept is explained to the child as “just one more kind of love.”

Reviews warn that the characterisation of the couple in this book might be a little dated, but it’s still worth looking out for as one of the first few out there (it was published in 1991) to portray a same-sex couple in a positive light.


The Different Dragon

Written by Jennifer Bryan / Illustrated by Danamarle Hosler

differentdragon

This bedtime story about bedtime stories shows how the wonderful curiosity and care of a little boy, with some help from one of his moms, can lead to magical and unexpected places. Join Noah and his cat, Diva, on this nighttime adventure and you too will leave with an unforgettable new dragon friend!


Everywhere Babies

Written by Susan Meyers / Illustrated by Marla Frazee

everywherebabies

Every day, everywhere, babies are born. They’re kissed and dressed and rocked and fed — and completely adored by the families who love them. With an irresistible rhyming text and delightfully endearing illustrations, here is an exuberant celebration of playing, sleeping, crawling, and of course, very noisy babies doing all the wonderful things babies do best.

This board book has gotten considerable flak for its (very, very subtle) “homosexual depictions” of babies being — unthinkably! — cuddled by same-sex couples, so it’s safe to say you’ll probably love it. With a little luck, it might also be more easily inserted into the libraries of your more conservative relations than some of the other books on this list.


Felicia’s Favorite Story

Written by Lesléa Newman / Illustrated by Adriana Romo

feliciasfavoritestory

It’s bedtime, but before Felicia goes to sleep she wants to hear her favorite story, the story of how she was adopted by Mama Nessa and Mama Linda. And so Felicia’s parents tell her how they flew off in a big silver airplane to meet the baby girl who was waiting for them, and how they loved her from the very first moment they saw her.


Goblinheart: A Fairy Tale

Written by Brett Axel / Illustrated by Terra Bidlespacher

goblinheart

Using “fairy” and “goblin” in lieu of female and male, the author has created a timely allegorical fairy tale. A youngster named Julep, who lives in a forest tribe, insists on growing up to be a goblin rather than a fairy. The tribe learns to accept that Julep is a goblin at heart, eventually coming around to support the physical transition that must be made for Julep to live as a goblin.


The Great Big Book of Families

Written by Mary Hoffman / Illustrated by Ros Asquith

greatbigbookoffamilies

This fun and fascinating treasury features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life-from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Ros Asquith’s humorous illustrations perfectly complement a charming text from the acclaimed Mary Hoffman; kids will love poring over these pages again and again. A celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over, The Great Big Book of Families is a great big treat for every family to share.

When I first stumbled upon the wonder of London’s Gay’s the Word bookstore, this was the first book I bought for my then 6-year-old brother. Not (only) for the queer content, but because it was the only book on the shelves that had a hijabi mother on the cover. Can’t recommend it enough.


Heather Has Two Mommies

Written by Lesléa Newman / Illustrated by Diana Souza

heatherhastwomommies

This minor classic presents the story of Heather, a preschooler with two moms who discovers that some of her friends have very different sorts of families. Juan, for example, has a mommy and a daddy and a big brother named Carlos. Miriam has a mommy and a baby sister. And Joshua has a mommy, a daddy, and a stepdaddy. Their teacher Molly encourages the children to draw pictures of their families, and reassures them that “each family is special” and that “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.”


In Our Mothers’ House

Written by Patricia Polacco

inourmothershouse

Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don’t accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema’s house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn’t mean wrong. And no matter how many moms or dads they have, they are everything a family is meant to be. Here is a true Polacco story of a family, living by their own rules, and the strength they gain by the love they feel.


It’s NOT the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends

Written by Robie H. Harris / Illustrated by Michael Emberley

itsnotthestork

Young children are curious about almost everything, especially their bodies. And young children are not afraid to ask questions. What makes me a girl? What makes me a boy? Why are some parts of girls’ and boys’ bodies the same and why are some parts different? How was I made? Where do babies come from? Is it true that a stork brings babies to mommies and daddies? It’s Not the Stork! helps answer these endless and perfectly normal questions that preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary school children ask about how they began.


It’s Okay to Be Different

Written by Todd Parr

itsokaytobedifferent

It’s okay to be a different color. It’s okay to dance by yourself. It’s okay to wear glasses. It’s okay to have a pet worm…. It’s okay to be different!


Jacob’s New Dress

Written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman / Illustrated by Chris Case

jacobsnewdress

Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear “girl” clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants?


King and King

Written by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

kingandking

Once there lived a lovelorn prince whose mother decreed that he must marry by the end of the summer. So began the search to find the prince’s perfect match and lo and behold… his name was Lee. You are cordially invited to join the merriest, most unexpected wedding of the year.


King and King and Family

Written by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

kingandkingandfamily

Join newlyweds King Lee and King Bertie on their journey into the noisy jungle. The kings are greeted by wild animal families, but the royal travelers suspect that something more significant awaits them in the trees. King & King soon discover that there’s no adventure more wonderful than starting a family of their own.


Love is a Family

Written by Roma Downey / Illustrated by Justine Gasquet

loveisafamily

Irrepressible young Lily loves her mother dearly. But when it’s time for Family Fun Night at her school, she worries… and worries. What will the other kids think when she just brings her mother? Will they be the strangest family there? But when they arrive at Family Fun Night, Lily sees all her friends having fun with their families — of every shape, size, and color. She learns that there are as many ways of showing love as there are stars in the sky.


Mister Seahorse

Written and illustrated by Eric Carle

misterseahorse

When Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs, she does it on Mr. Seahorse’s belly! She knows he will take good care of them. While he swims waiting for the eggs to hatch, he meets other underwater fathers caring for their babies.


Molly’s Family

Written by Nancy Garden / Illustrated by Sharon Wooding

mollysfamily

The members of Ms. Marston’s kindergarten class are cleaning and decorating their room for the upcoming Open School Night. Molly and Tommy work on drawing pictures to put on the walls. Molly draws her family: Mommy, Mama Lu, and her puppy, Sam. But when Tommy looks at her picture, he tells her it’s not of a family. “You can’t have a mommy and a mama,” he says. Molly doesn’t know what to think; no one else in her class has two mothers. She isn’t sure she wants her picture to be on the wall for Open School Night.


Mommy, Mama and Me

Written by Lesléa Newman / Illustrated by Carol Thompson

mommymamaandme

Rhythmic text and illustrations with universal appeal show a toddler spending the day with its mommies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together.


Monday is One Day

Written by Arthur Levine / Illustrated by Julian Hector

mondayisoneday

A love note from a working parent to a child, counting the days of the week — each one a special opportunity to spend time together. One by one, the days of the week roll by. Monday is one day, Tuesday is blue shoes day, and Wednesday is halfway day. When Saturday and Sunday finally come, it’s time for little ones and the adults who love them to play, share, and celebrate. Every day of the week offers a special opportunity for families to enjoy being together!


My Princess Boy

Written by Cheryl Kilodavis / Illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone

myprincessboy

Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy.


Oliver Button is a Sissy

Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

oliverbuttonisasissy

A little boy must come to terms with being teased and ostracized because he’d rather read books, paint pictures, and tap-dance than participate in sports.


The Princess Knight

Written by Cornelia Funke / Illustrated by Kerstin Meyer

princessknight

Violet is a young princess who wishes she could show the world that she is just as brave and strong as her brothers. But her strict father insists that she get married, and her brothers only mock her when she wants to be included in their fun. So Violet decides to use her intelligence and bravery to show everyone — once and for all — what she’s made of. Disguising herself as a boy, Violet takes part in a knights’ jousting tournament. When she wins the contest, she reveals her true identity — and wins the prize of freedom!


Rough, Tough Charley

Written by Verla Kay / Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

roughtoughcharley

Charley was rough. Charley was tough. Charley wore fancy blue gloves. Charley Parkhurst always was more comfortable around horses than around humans. One of the most respected stagecoach drivers in the old West, Charley also kept one of the biggest secrets anyone could keep.


The Sissy Duckling

Written by Harvey Fierstein / Illustrated by Henry Cole

sissyduckling

Elmer is not like the other boy ducklings. While they like to build forts, he loves to bake cakes. While they like to play baseball, he wants to put on the halftime show. Elmer is a great big sissy. But when his father is wounded by a hunter’s shot, Elmer proves that the biggest sissy can also be the greatest hero.


Too Far Away to Touch

Written by Lesléa Newman / Illustrated by Catherine Stock

toofarawaytotouch

Zoe’s Uncle Leonard makes her feel special, taking her out to lunch and star-filled afternoons at the Planetarium. Though ill and always tired, he surprises her by decorating the ceiling in her room with hundreds of glow-in-the-dark stars. Uncle Leonard can’t promise Zoe when or if he will ever get well, but he reassures her he will always love her and, like the stars, be “close enough to see.”

This book specifically deals with AIDS, but would be appropriate for any child coming to terms with terminal illness or the death of a loved one.


What Makes A Baby

Written by Cory Silverberg / Illustrated by Fiona Smyth

whatmakesababy

What Makes a Baby is a book for every kind of family and every kind of kid. It is a twenty-first century children’s picture book about conception, gestation, and birth, which reflects the reality of our modern time by being inclusive of all kinds of kids, adults, and families, regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition. Just as important, the story doesn’t gender people or body parts, so most parents and families will find that it leaves room for them to educate their child without having to erase their own experience.

In 2012, the Kickstarter project to publish this book raised almost 7 times its target amount. I own it and can verify that it is by far the most inclusive, approachable and beautifully illustrated book I’ve come across explaining the fundamentals of baby-making. And it made Ali cry.


When Kayla Was Kyle

Written by Amy Fabrikant / Illustrated by Jennifer Levine

whenkaylawaskyle

Kyle doesn’t understand why the other kids at school call him names. He looks like other boys, but doesn’t feel like them. Can Kyle find the words to share his feelings about his gender — and can his parents help him to transition into the girl he was born to be?


The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption

Written by Elaine M. Aoki and Jean Davies Okimoto / Illustrated by Meilo So

whiteswanexpress

In China, the moon shines on four baby girls, fast asleep in an orphanage. Far away in North America, the sun rises over four homes as the people who live there get ready to start a long, exciting journey. This lovely story of people who travel to China to be united with their daughters describes the adoption process step by step and the anxiety, suspense, and delight of becoming a family.


Who’s in a Family?: A Book About All Types of Families

Written by Robert Skutch / Illustrated by Laura Nienhaus

whosinafamily

Family is important, but who’s in a family? Why, the people who love you the most!


Why Don’t I Have A Daddy?: A Story of Donor Conception

Written by George Anne Clay / Illustrated by Lisa Krebs

whydontihaveadaddy

As the little lion cub notices all different types of families, he starts to question his own family. His family consists of his mother and him. The little cub learns that while there is no “daddy” in his family, there is a donor lion who made his life possible. Through his mother’s love and nurturing, the lion cub understands how special he and his family are.


William’s Doll

Written by Charlotte Zolotow / Illustrated by William Pene du Bois

williamsdoll

More than anything, William wants a doll. “Don’t be a creep,” says his brother. “Sissy, sissy,” chants the boy next door. Then one day someone really understands William’s wish, and makes it easy for others to understand, too.


The Worst Princess

Written by Anna Kemp / Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

worstprincess

Princess Sue dreams of finding her Prince Charming. But when that Prince proves to be a bit more traditional than what she had hoped for, Princess Sue — along with the help of a fiery dragon — becomes determined to find a way to get the fairy-tale ending that she always envisioned for herself.

At one point Princess Sue looks like she’s about to trample the Prince while on her dragon, having bested him in a joust. MISANDRY IS REAL.


Zinnia and Dot

Written by Lisa Campbell Ernst

zinniaanddot

Meet Zinnia and Dot — two plump, self-satisfied hens who bicker constantly about the quality of their eggs. Whose are more lustrous, shapely, smooth? Their rivalry rages until a weasel bursts in and steals the eggs —all but one, a particularly prime specimen. Just in time, they realize they’ve got to stick together to protect their prized egg.


It was, unsurprisingly, pretty hard to find books that featured queer people or families of colour. However, you might be interested in the Flamingo Rampant Book Club!, a soon-to-be-launched children’s book series which aims to celebrate LGBTQ2S kids, families and adults, moving away from the dominant narratives of struggle, oppression and bullying, as well as to centre the stories and writing of people of colour. Creator S. Bear Bergman (author of The Adventures of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy and Backwards Day, both of which are listed above, as well as co-author of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation) is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, while Miriam Zoila Pérez of Colorlines has written a more in-depth piece about the series exploring related issues of marketability, how racism is portrayed (or sidestepped) in children’s books, and the portrayal of girls of colour.


This list was put together with the help of Pooja Makhijani, a writer, editor, teacher, book artist, mother, and New Yorker living in Singapore. Check out her blog and latest initiative, The Feminist Parent.

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Politiqueer, student and future cubicle drone-person fond of trees, bicycles, and strawberry sponge cake. Abuses en-dashes. Undecided about the Oxford comma. Follow her on Twitter or her occasionally updated blog.

Fikri has written 52 articles for us.

45 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    Two things:
    It’s weird that Roma Downey wrote one of the books on this list. She’s a hardcore Christian, and together with her husband, was responsible for that The Bible thing on NatGeo, you know, the one with Obama Satan, and that “God’s Not Dead” movie. Along with some other choices she’s made, Downey just keeps sending me mixed messages about her feelings on pretty much everything.
    Second, the And Tango Makes Three ALWAYS reminds me of that Parks and Rec episode where Leslie unknowingly marries two male penguins, which is probably my favorite P&R episode of all time. I loved the book before that, but the episode, which was probably inspired by the book, made me love it even more.

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      Woya,

      I had to go and check to remind myself who Roma Downey was, and as you have said she comes across as quite right wing conservative.

      I honestly don’t know what to make of her, but for my Wikipedia efforts of researching who she was, I now come back to Autostraddle and have the pleasure of being advertised to by HILLSONG, a Christian online website.
      Coincidence? I think not. Roma might be the conservative right’s answer to Ellen DeGeneres, power lesbian, who has her minions doing her work, everywhere, 24/7.

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      Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I had no idea, and now I’m not entirely sure what to do with this information. On one hand, I think we’d all rather not line the pockets of right-wing conservatives (especially those with pretty stuffed pockets as it is) especially in a list promoting LGBTQ-friendly literature but on the other, Downey might not be as bad on queer stuff as you’d expect (the Bible series appears to have outraged conservatives for not emphasising the Sin of the Gay in its take on Sodom & Gomorrah) — but then on a third hand which I’m just going to borrow from some poor other human, that’s way more than can be said about the company she keeps. I’ve known about this woman for 15min now and I too am already deeply confused.

      The book was included in this list even though afaik there are no queer families explicitly depicted in it because it was strongly recommended to me as something written about single mothers by someone who used to be a single mother herself, and I think that’s an important narrative in queer communities. That being said, this list is of course very, very far from definitive or comprehensive, and I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions about other books!

      Sidenote that episode was awesome and imma rewatch it now.

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      I checked the review on Amazon of Roma Downey’s book and it seems all the families are hetero. However, the book could be a springboard to talking with kids about all kinds of families and there is much truth in the premise that love should be the unifying component.

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    I have recently been dubbed “crazy hairy legged lesbian cat lady Aunt Jane” because I’m obsessed with my old friends’ new baby. Her name is Tilde, and her mom has a blue buzzcut, and her dad and I used to share skirts, and they’re the greatest husband and wife and I love them, and I LOVE THIS BABY SO MUCH ALREADY OH MY GODDD!!!

    So anyway I’m buying all these books for this kid.

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    Great article, since I love buying books for small children. I just bought a copy of ‘A is for Activist’ for a friend’s 2 1/2 year old. I both love and am really amused by the upraised toddler fist on the cover. Solidarity! Justice! Snack time!

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    I’m officially going to have a tiny little niece/nephew to spoil wildly as of October and I’m so freaking excited! Now it’s going to be so hard not to show up at my brother’s door with a stack of 40 books in tow

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    Bookmarking for the next time I want to get books for my little niece and nephew! I decided long ago that I would be the aunt who gives the kids loads of books and makes sure they learn about the existence of queer people.

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    This is perfect! My friends just had a baby, I had “I heart my mums” baby grows made for him because I was so irritated with all the heteronormative prints I kept seeing in stores. My friends loved it and said they’d found it hard to get anything like that or anything relating to their family unit. So I’m super excited to buy him the Different Dragon and give them the link to this list!

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    Great list, thank you! I’m a bookseller, and I like to keep an eye out for new queer books for small children. I’ve felt for a while that there is a gap in the market though, and this list confirms that for me. The books tend to be ‘issues’ books – dealing with gender or sexuality as an issue, that is then solved by love and acceptance of the ‘differences’. While I do think these books are essential, what I’l love to see are books for kids in which queerness is not an issue! Where are the books that present queer parents as normal? I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the world where it’s not weird that I’m queer, and I want to give books to my friend’s kids that reflect their families – books tell a story the kids are interested in, that just happens to have queers in the background, as part of normal everyday life.
    We have a couple of books here in Australia that are in step in that direction – Sydney mum and her daughter, Vicki and Brenna Harding, have written a couple of books together that depict everyday life in a queer family (‘My House’ and ‘Going to Fairday’).
    Another Australian author, Bob Graham, has a couple of books – ‘Let’s Get a Pup’ and ‘Queenie the Bantam’ – which are lovely picture books about kid things, like getting a puppy or finding a bantam. The kid has a mum and a dad, but they’re not depicted in gendered ways or roles. The mum has short hair and tatts, and both parents have piercings and wear androgynous clothing. I want to see this kind of book, but with same-sex parents in the background!
    I don’t want my kids growing up with me anticipating that my sexuality will be an ‘issue’ in their lives. Having queer parents will be normal to them, and I want to be able to give them books that present the adults in their lives as normal, not different.

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      Did you read the article linked at the bottom about Flamingo Rampant Book Club? They talk about this exact problem (the part at the beginning where one of the authors talks about his son telling him “I don’t want anymore bully stories” just broke my heart).

      I wish I had the funds to justify a Flamingo Rampant Book Club subscription now… or a child to give the books to.

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      I completely agree with you. Not only are most LGBT-themed books “issues books,” they also tend to feature characters who engage in bullying and rejection. My concern is that doing so might end up teaching those behaviors that we’re trying to eradicate in the first place. I was at a writing conference recently, and an editor from a major publishing house said that they really want LGBT manuscripts, but they don’t get very many. If they received a well-written one, they’d jump on it. It’s time to change the narrative.

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        Yes! I think picture books can play a role in changing how kids think about queerness. We need books that ‘model’ the behaviour we’d like to see towards queer and gender diverse kids and adults – instead of bullying, we could have books in which it’s not an ‘issue’, but a normal part of life for some kids.

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    So many good books out there! A lot of these are new to me (I wrote a picture book so I did some research a year or two back), which is so heartwarming.

    Oh, and What Makes a Baby made me cry ugly tears in the middle of McNally Jackson.

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    Oh my gosh, thank you so much for putting this together! I’m a children’s book illustrator and really hope to someday add one of my books to a list like this. Have you checked out the #weneeddiverse books campaign? If not, definitely get on it!

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    The timing is crazy: I was planning on sending you guys a message about a lovely book I just finished translating (into french), Morris Micklewhite and the tangerine dress, by Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant.

    http://www.houseofanansi.com/Morris-Micklewhite-and-the-Tangerine-Dress-P2292.aspx

    I felt really honored to be the one to put this story into french, although I agree with eadie, above, that we need more characters whose queerness is not an issue.

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    What a wonderful list! As a retired children’s librarian (and someone who realized her true orientation in her late 50s), I was tickled to see books I recognized from long ago like William’s Doll. There is so much power in a story well told. Thanks for compiling this list. May these stories touch the hearts of many.

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    This list has inspired me to create a new shelf in my Goodreads account for books for my future babies. Those babies are so far away right now, but man, when I have them, they will have so many books already!

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    Also may I point out that picture books are totally for grownups, too? There’s nothing wrong with an older person reading these for pleasure, or giving them to other older people! I personally want all of these books….for me.

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    Wow! So many I hadn’t seen before! Some extras:

    The Duke Who Outlawed Jellybeans is a collection of queer and trans stories. Pretty didactic, but, as with many of the above, at least it exists?

    Mummy Never Told Me by Babette Cole is sex-positive and mentions same-sex relationships.

    The Donor Conception Network made a whole series for telling children of egg or sperm donor conceptions about where they came from, with one book specifically tailored for kids with two moms. It’s called Our Story, but so are all the other books in the series for kids of heterosexuals and a lot of libraries don’t fill in the subject headings in the catalogue. Specific ISBN: 0-9543995-1-X.

    Leslea Newman also did Daddy, Papa, and Me.

    There’s also You’re Different and That’s Super, which is kind of like the ugly duckling but for gays I guess? Spoiler alert: he’s a unicorn instead of a horse.

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    Aww, “Oliver Button is a Sissy”. I remember reading that when I was in Elementary school and liking it very much! Especially the illustrative work of Tomie depaola. <3

    Fantastic selection all around.

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    A is for activist sounds amazing! I wish that I had been given books as a child that acknowledged that LGTBQ people exist and that they are a part of normal life. It’s ridiculous that people that are normally fairly progressive get nervous about talking to young children about LGBTQ diversity. If you introduce these ideas as normal to young children they will just accept it, it’s adults that are the problem.

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    OMG THANK YOU! I have a niece who is turning two in November and I’m already That Aunt: my gift to her on the day of her birth was the anniversary edition of Free To Be You And Me. My sister thought it was the best present ever, so I’m guessing she approves :P

    Looking up Flamingo Rampant, here’s hoping they deliver to the UK!

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      With the exception of the board books, a lot of these would work for older kids! Kids’ reading abilities (and attention spans) vary significantly, so go by what you know about them — my younger brother is very happy with the level of Oliver Button is a Sissy, which we own, but when my sister was this age I was already looking for YA fiction for her.

      Not sure Malaysia is anything like Singapore in this regard, but on this side of the causeway media items (DVDs in particular) are far more likely to be stopped by the censors than books are. Though I think in general no one really bothers to go through personal mail that’s declared to customs as a gift.

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    Just wanted to respond to sadie and whicolom who pointed out the continuing trend toward publishing LGBTQ “issue” books for children. When I approached the pioneering, topnotch and, sadly, now defunct Two Lives Publishing 10 years ago, they gladly accepted The Different Dragon (of which i’m the author) for just this reason. It’s a story about a boy telling bedtime stories with one of his moms. There book has gorgeous illustrations, a singing cat and an unorthodox dragon. The fact the the boy has two moms is incidental to the tale. Though I’m very pleased that people continue to buy The Different Dragon today (https://www.createspace.com/3557692), we do indeed need more stories where the presence of queer characters is matter-of-fact, not something that needs to be explained or defended.

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    Thank you so much for this article. I recently got a job as a clerk in a library, and after seeing the list I searched our catalog and was pleasantly surprised to find we already had a few of these (but not nearly enough, in my opinion). With the list I was able to recommend more titles to our children’s librarian, who has purchased them! I’m excited to try and bring more LGBTQ books into the library, especially seeing as we’re from a largely rural area. Again, thank you so much!

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    Just wanted to let you know that there are many, many more great LGBTQ books out there. I authored a book a few years ago for librarians called Rainbow Family Collections (2012) which profiles over 200 books for children in grades 6 and under. I’m currently working on a follow-up to that book to include new books as well as more books from around the world on LGBTQ topics.
    http://www.amazon.com/Rainbow-Family-Collections-Transgender-Literature/dp/1598849603/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413548334&sr=1-1&keywords=rainbow+family+collections

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