A Holiday Gift Guide to This Year’s LGBTQ+ Picture Books

Library with many shelves and books, diminishing perspective and shallow dof
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

The LGBTQ-inclusive picture books published this year have dazzled me. Here are some that stand out and seem the most celebratory, perfect for holiday giving.

In several tales of family life, the queerness is incidental to the story: “Too Green!” by Sumana Seeboruth, illustrated by Maribel Castells (Barefoot Books), with a two-mom family (also available in an English/Spanish edition); “My Mommies Built a Treehouse,” by Gareth Peter, illustrated by Izzy Evans (Lantana); and two tales that include two-dad families among others: “Soon, Your Hands,” by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Elizabeth Lilly (Knopf); and “Awake, Asleep,” by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Nadia Alam (Orchard Books).

Two books celebrate the many types of families, including queer ones: “A Family Like Ours,” by Alice Lee and Frank Murphy, illustrated by Kayla Harren (Sleeping Bear Press); and “Love without Bounds: An IntersectionAllies Book about Families,” by Carolyn Choi, Chelsea Johnson and LaToya Council, illustrated by Ashley Seil Smith (Dottir Press).

Other family and relationship topics are explored in “Our Wish for You: A Story About Open Adoption,” by Dano Moreno, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke (Charlesbridge), with two dads and a birth mother; “Dad and Daddy’s Big Big Family,” by Seamus Kirst, illustrated by Karen Bunting (Magination Press), in which a girl with two dads learns about her extended family; and “Grandad’s Pride,” by Harry Woodgate (Little Bee), the standalone follow-up to the Stonewall Award-winning “Grandad’s Camper;” and “The Wishing Flower,” by A.J. Irving, illustrated by Kip Alizadeh (Knopf), about a girl with a crush on another girl.

Gender creative boys star in “The Fairest in the Land,” by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Joshua Heinsz (Abrams), and “The Good Hair Day,” by Christian Trimmer, illustrated by J Yang (Abrams); gender creative girls star in “Flower Girl,” by Amy Bloom, illustrated by Jameela Wahlgren (Norton); and “Molly’s Tuxedo,” by Vicki Johnson, illustrated by Gillian Reid (Little Bee).

Gender identity takes center stage in “They, He, She: Words for You and Me” from Mudpuppy, illustrated by Andy Passchier, a bright board book; “Not He Or She, I’m Me,” by A.M. Wild, illustrated by Kah Yangni (Henry Holt), about a day in the life of a nonbinary child; “I Can Be…Me!” by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Maya Gonzalez, a celebration of self; and “The Gender and Infinity Book for Kids,” by Maya Gonzalez (Reflection Press), a holistic look at gender through the infinity of nature.

Biographies include “Little Black Lives Matter,” by Khodi Dill, illustrated by Chelsea Charles (Triangle Square), a board book with queer lives among many others; “Dare to Question: Carrie Chapman Catt’s Voice for the Vote,” by Jasmine A. Stirling, illustrated by Udayana Lugo (Union Square); “Good Books for Bad Children: The Genius of Ursula Nordstrom,” by Beth Kephar, illustrated by Chloe Bristol (Anne Schwartz), about the pioneering (and queer) children’s book editor; “Door by Door: How Sarah McBride Became America’s First Openly Transgender Senator,” by Meeg Pincus, illustrated by Meridth McKean Gimbel (Crown); “No Horses in the House! The Audacious Life of Artist Rosa Bonheur,” by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Anna Bron (Orca); “Unstoppable: How Bayard Rustin Organized the 1963 March on Washington,” by Michael G. Long, illustrated by Bea Jackson; “Desert Queen,” by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Svabhu Kohli (Levine Querido), about Rajasthani drag performer Queen Harish; “To See Clearly: A Portrait of David Hockney,” by Evan Turk (Harry N. Abrams); “Jovita Wore Pants,” by Aida Salazar, illustrated by Molly Mendoza (Scholastic), about gender creative Mexican revolutionary Jovita Valdovinos (also available in Spanish); and “Hope for Ryan White,” by Dano Moreno, illustrated by Hannah Abbo (Albert Whitman).

Community and social issues come to the fore in “The Wishing Machine,” by Jonathan Hillman, illustrated by Nadia Alam (Simon & Schuster), about a nonbinary child and their mom facing housing insecurity but finding strength in each other; and “Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers?” by Junauda Petrus, illustrated by Kristen Uroda (Dutton), which envisions police salaries given to grandmothers who cruise the streets in “badass” vintage automobiles, offering help and hope. Two of the “grandmas” have beards, although their identities are unspecified.

For pure fun, try: “You Need to Chill!” by Juno Dawson, illustrated by Laura Hughes (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), in which a girl wittily answers peers who wonder what happened to her brother, now in her true identity as a trans girl; “Oh No, the Aunts are Here,” by Adam Rex, illustrated by Lian Cho (Chronicle), about a bevy of aunts (including one with a masculine appearance and unspecified identity), ready to overwhelm with hugs and gifts; “Princess Pru and the Ogre on the Hill,” by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Danesh Mohiuddin (Owlkids), about a girl with two dads who befriends a fearsome ogre; “Pirate Glitterbeard,” by Larissa and Oksanna Crawley (Rebel Mountain Press), about a gender creative pirate and his equally fabulous crew; “Cinderella and a Mouse Called Fred,” by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (Anne Schwartz), a reimagining that changes the gender of Cinderella’s beloved; and “Cinda Meets Ella: A Fairly Queer Tale,” by Wallace West (Little, Brown), another retelling, where a mysterious, nonbinary rider catches Cinda’s eye.

Finally, “David Atherton’s Baking Book for Kids: Delicious Recipes for Budding Bakers,” by gay Great British Bake Off winner Atherton, illustrated by Stonewall Award-winning Harry Woodgate (Candlewick), has tasty recipes and includes images of gender creative and gender ambiguous children on its pages.

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.

May you give thoughtfully and receive graciously, and may all your holidays be full of love.

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