By Chrysta Naron
June is Pride month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in all its wonderful uniqueness. It’s an opportunity for queer families and children to be seen and to share. Here are a few of the most joyful books with LGBTQ+ characters and stories for you to share with your child this month. Be prepared for giggles, touching conversations, and tons of rainbow color!
Make reading aloud more rewarding for the whole family.
This adorable, award-winning book takes place at a Pride parade. It’s written in rhyme, so it’s extra cute. It talks about who you’ll see at Pride and who is invited—everyone! My students love pointing out the bright colors and costumes, as well as giggling at the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It’s really just a joy to read.
Red: A Crayon’s Story is one of my all-time favorite books. It shows the experience of a transgender child through the metaphor of crayons. A blue crayon has a red wrapper, and everyone around the crayon keeps trying to get the crayon to draw red things—fire engines, strawberries—but everything comes out blue. Eventually another crayon acknowledges and appreciates that this crayon is actually blue. All the other crayons soon realize this too and begin celebrating the blueness of the crayon. The concept is so simply laid out that from the first page, my students began to yell, “No! Not red, blue!”
Written by a mother and daughter duo, My Rainbow is a story about Trinity, a black autistic trans girl, and her desire to have long hair to feel more like a girl. Her mother decides to create a beautiful rainbow wig for her daughter that’s just as unique as Trinity. This book is layered with identities and shows how much love and support family members can give one another. It’s a very special read.
Julián is a Mermaid is a magical and beautifully illustrated treat. Set in New York City, Julián loves mermaids and plays mermaid dress-up when Abuela isn’t around. When Abeula discovers Julián in her clothes, she takes Julián to a mermaid parade (a real event held every year in Coney Island). And wouldn’t you want to spend a day at the beach with a bunch of mermaids?
This book is so funny and sweet and refutes gender roles. Worm loves Worm and they decide to get married. Lots of other bugs intervene, explaining that it isn’t a wedding without cake (even though worms don’t eat cake), or rings (even though worms don’t have fingers), or one groom and one bride. The excuse is: “That’s the way it’s always been done.” But Worm and Worm decide that they’ll both be the groom and both be the bride. They rebuff criticisms that it’s “not how it’s done” with: “It’s how we’re doing it now.” All sorts of families will value the message of cherishing loved ones in a way you both want, regardless of what has always been done.
This rhyming book teaches children all about pronouns while simultaneously teaching the alphabet! This book is really great for toddlers and early Pre-K students. You can also get up and move to this book, which is such a plus!
This book is a follow up book to They, She, He Easy as ABC. It too teaches children about pronouns, but this one is for slightly older children (K-2nd grade). It talks about what a pronoun is, how people use pronouns to express who they are, and that knowing who you are inside and out is the most important thing of all.
Pride is a nonfiction book full of colorful photographs sure to grab your little one’s attention. It’s a longer book, so you won’t cozy up at bedtime or circle time and whip through this one. I usually read it to kids bit by bit over the course of multiple days. Robin Stevenson talks about the history of Pride up through today, her own experiences as a lesbian and mother, and the ways she and others can celebrate their families. The exciting photographs will encourage children to want to participate in Pride celebrations.
In this book about gender exploration, a young South Asian child is fascinated by his mother’s bindi. When he seeks to know more about them, his mother gives him a bindi to wear. The child feels more authentically themself and connected to their culture. This story lets children look at the way we connect gender and culture in uplifting, kid-friendly language. Quite the gem!
I adore this book because it shows a positive family dynamic shift when Aidan comes out to his parents as a transgender boy. Rather than simply stopping the book once Aidan and his family make changes, it moves forward to show Aidan’s family growing. Aidan worries about gender being placed on his unborn sibling and begins to help his family make choices that will allow that sibling to flourish, no matter how they identify. It teaches the moral that the most important thing about taking care of a child is knowing how to love them, just the way they are.
This board book explains the meaning behind each color in the Pride flag. It’s short and simple and sure to delight your youngest book lover. It’s even shaped like a flag!
Quite often, the experiences of Indigenous LGBTQ+ people are overlooked in children’s literature. 47,000 Beads is here to change that! Peyton is a child who loves to dance, but when the annual pow-wow comes around, this year Peyton doesn’t want to wear the jingle dress that girls wear. Auntie Eyota reaches out to the entire community to help Peyton feel loved and welcomed as a Two-Spirit member of their nation. Everyone pitches in and makes a beautiful new pow-wow regalia, perfect for Peyton!
This Spanish/English bilingual book (with some Nahuatl peppered throughout) is a loving story about a father helping his son write a song to serenade the boy he loves. It’s a musical and sweet story that shows the way straight fathers can affirm their queer children. It’s simply enchanting!
Set to the tune of that kids’ song classic “The Wheels on the Bus,” this book is a playful look at drag. It’s even written by a drag queen! Kids can sing and dance along as drag queens prance on every page!
June is officially Pride Month in the United States, but we can celebrate and center the queer community all year round, and there are queer-friendly picture books for nearly any holiday or theme. You can also check out Drag Queen Story Hour for local story times!
Let us know your favorite picture books for Pride month in the comments.
Chrysta Naron is an early childhood educator and curriculum specialist in Austin, Texas, who believes everything is better with glitter! Read more from her at www.playfulprek.com.
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