9 Great LGBTQ Books for Kids

These books aren’t just for families with a direct connection to LGBTQ issues; everyone can use their messages of unconditional love and acceptance.
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Once was, parents who were gay or who were raising gay or transgender children had a hard time finding their family’s faces and feelings in the pages of children’s books. No more.

Ever since “Heather Has Two Mommies” appeared on shelves in 1989, more books, geared to everyone from the youngest tots to questioning tweens and teens (not to mention to their parents), are filling the gap and helping families grow in understanding.

And of course, these books aren’t just for families with a direct connection to LGBTQ issues; everyone can use their messages of unconditional love and acceptance. One excellent reference is Rainbow Family Collections: Selecting and Using Children’s Books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Content, by Jamie Campbell Naidoo, which lists hundreds of books featuring lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer content. After that, the genre is wide open, with this list just a sliver of what’s out there.

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole

A sweet tale of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, given an egg to care for and, ultimately, a penguin chick to raise as their own.

Great for: Pre-K (3–5), Growing Reader (6–8)

by Brett Axel, illustrated by Terra Bidlespacher

Here, genders are represented allegorically by goblins and fairies. Julep, a young member of a forest-dwelling family of fairies, wants to live life as a goblin, and readers see the transformation that Julep must make — as well as the transformation in understanding and acceptance among both fairies and goblins.

Great for: Pre-K (3–5), Growing Reader (6–8)

by Cheryl Kilodavis, illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone

A mother celebrates her son who just happens to love wearing sparkly pink clothes. And tiaras — he loves tiaras. Kilodavis wrote the book memoir-style, describing her own journey of accepting her transgender son.

Great for: Pre-K (3–5), Growing Reader (6–8)

by S. Bear Bergman, illustrated by Suzy Malik

Tulip has a great job, fulfilling the birthday wishes of all the 9-year-olds in North America. But what will he do when he receives a wish from a child called David, who’d rather be Daniela?

Great for: Pre-K (3–5), Growing Reader (6–8)

by Marc Brown

In this episode of the travels and adventures of Buster the bunny (there’s a PBS TV series, too), Buster goes to Vermont to learn about maple syrup making. He meets a new friend who has two moms.

Great for: Growing Reader (6–8)

by David Walliams, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Dennis is mad about soccer — but also about fashion. When a friend encourages him to wear a dress to school and call himself “Denise,” instead of being celebrated, he’s kicked out of school. Which means the soccer team loses its star player.

Great for: Growing Reader (6–8), Tween (9–12)

by Dana Alison Levy

The Fletchers are no different from any modern American family — four brothers, various pets (some possibly imaginary), soccer, plays, and pesky neighbors. The fact that the fathers are gay and a few of the brothers are adopted? That’s just background, showing readers without telling them that there as many definitions of family as there are families.

Great for: Tween (9–12)

by James Howe

A gang of seventh graders, bonded for years over being shunned and bullied by others (one’s gay, one’s an outspoken girl, one’s everybody’s favorite hooligan), form an alliance when they decide to not take the taunts anymore.
Great for: Tween (9–12), Teen (13–14)

by Tim Federle

Eighth-grader Nate Foster feels stuck in small-town, small-mind Pennsylvania, with a religious father and a depressed mother. Nate pines to dance on Broadway, and with the help of his best friend Libby, hops a bus to New York to audition for “ET: The Musical.” In the process, his whole world — including his quest to come to terms with his sexuality — busts wide open in a wonderful way.

Great for: Tween (9–12)

What other titles would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

This article was written by Denise Schipani for Brightly.