It gets harder and harder to choose which of the increasingly good and plentiful LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books from the past year to highlight in this annual guide. I’ve selected the ones below to cover a range of identities and themes and to emphasize inspiration and celebration, perfect for holiday giving.
“The Pronoun Book,” by Chris Ayala-Kronos, illustrated by Melita Tirado (Clarion). This bright board book highlights different pronouns and some of the diverse people who use each one. Simple but joyous.
“Bye Bye, Binary,” by Eric Geron, illustrated by Charlene Chua (HarperFestival). “It’s a … baby!” And the baby in this cheerful book is “ready to smash gender norms,” with a message for both parents and children.
“A Song for the Unsung: Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the 1963 March on Washington,” by Carole Boston Weatherford and Rob Sanders, illustrated by Byron McCray (Henry Holt). A thoughtful biography of a Black, gay hero of the Civil Rights Movement.
“If You’re a Kid Like Gavin: The True Story of a Young Trans Activist,” by Gavin Grimm and Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by J Yang (Katherine Tegen Books). The tale of transgender teen Grimm’s choices and resilience before and during his successful federal court fight for the right to use the boy’s bathroom at school.
“The Mother of a Movement: Jeanne Manford–Ally, Activist, and Co-Founder of PFLAG,” by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Sam Kalda (Magination). A moving biography and a sterling example of active allyship.
“Strong,” by Rob Kearney and Eric Rosswood, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani (Little Brown). A cheerful, inspiring biography of Kearney, the world’s first openly gay professional strongman.
“Kind Like Marsha,” by Sarah Prager, illustrated by Cheryl Thuesday (Running Press). An introduction to LGBTQ icons that encourages readers to emulate the positive qualities they embody.
Books about families
“Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle,” by Nina LaCour, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Candlewick). A sweet and lovely picture book in which a young girl shares her feelings when Mommy is away on a work trip and she and Mama wait for her return.
“My Moms Love Me,” by Anna Membrino, illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz (Orchard Books). A lovely rhyming poem from baby to Mommy and Mama, about their daily life from morning to night.
“All Moms,” by Sarah Kate Ellis and Kristen Ellis-Henderson, illustrated by Max Rambaldi (Little Bee). An ode to the many different types of moms and the many different things they do.
“Some Daddies,” Carol Gordon Ekster, Javiera Maclean Alvarez (Beaming Books). All daddies are different, but all are special, affirms this book about many different types of dads.
Books about relationships
“Love, Violet,” by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, illustrated by Charlotte Chua (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The sweet and affirming tale of a young girl’s same-sex crush.
“Cinderelliot: A Scrumptious Fairytale,” by Mark Ceilley and Rachel Smoka-Richardson, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis (Running Press). A tasty riff on the classic story, about a young baker, his fairy godfather, and a prince looking for love.
Books about gender identity and expression
“True You: A Gender Journey,” by Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner (Clarion). A celebratory book filled with photos and testimonials of real children across a variety of gender identities and expressions.
“My Fade Is Fresh,” by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Kitt Thomas (Penguin). A joyous, rhyming ode to Black hair and self-expression, with a gender creative girl protagonist.
“Kapaemahu,” by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, and Joe Wilson, illustrated by Daniel Sousa (Kokila). An indigenous legend about four individuals of dual male and female spirit who brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii.
“If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It,” by Lil Miss Hot Mess, illustrated by Olga de Dios Ruiz (Running Press). The creators of “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish” reunite for another fun riff on a classic children’s song.
“Miss Rita, Mystery Reader,” by Sam Donovan and Kristen Wixted, illustrated by Violet Tobacco (Farrar Straus & Giroux). Tori, a nonbinary child, helps their dad transform into his drag persona in preparation for reading to Tori’s class.
STEM Learning Books
“Something Great,” by Jeanette Bradley (Levine Querido). Quinn has created Something Great in their workshop. It might look like a plastic milk bottle on a string, but Quinn and a new friend find that it can swing, spin, lift, and more. When asked what it is “supposed” to be, the nonbinary Quinn rejects labels, asserting, “It was just . . . itself. Something Great.”
“The Blanket Where Violet Sits,” by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (Candlewick). A girl is having a star-gazing picnic with her parents, one who reads as male and the other of ambiguous gender. In gentle rhymes, our perspective zooms out from where they sit to encompass the whole universe and back again, where the parents gently tuck Violet under her blanket.
Books for Bedtime
“Good Dream Dragon,” by Jacky Davis, illustrated by Courtney Dawson (Little, Brown). A whimsical and enchanting bedtime story with a transgender, nonbinary protagonist who has two moms.
“The Best Bed for Me,” by Gaia Cornwall (Candlewick). Mommy and Mama want their child, Sweet Pea (who is never gendered), to go to bed. Sweet Pea, however, knows how to stall—first wanting to sleep in a tree like a koala, then upside down like a bat, then….
For longer reviews and books I didn’t have space for here (including middle grade titles and ones for grown-ups), visit my Database of LGBTQ Family Books and More at mombian.com/database.
Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian (mombian.com), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory, with a searchable database of 1000+ LGBTQ family books, music, and more.