Mashable is celebrating Pride Month by exploring the modern LGBTQ world, from the people who make up the community to the spaces where they congregate, both online and off.
There’s nothing inherently adult about being LGBTQ, which means it’s never too soon to share affirming and educational books about the community with the children in your life.
Although the world of children’s publishing still has a lot of improvement to do when it comes to diversity, there are titles that reflect a multitude of sexualities and gender identity expressions. LGBTQ-positive books can not only introduce children to family dynamics and identities different than their own, but they can also be incredibly suprportive for children whose identities don’t always fit traditional stereotypes. Pride Month in June is an especially fantastic time to use these books to teach kids about the values of acceptance, self-love, and kindness towards others, regardless of identity.
In honor of Pride, here are nine LGBTQ books that show young readers there are many ways to love yourself and others.
Image: Simon & Schuster
Staying true to a fairy tale formula, a maiden is invited to the prince’s royal ball, where she meets her true love. But subverting expectations, her heart is ultimately won over by a princess rather than the prince. The use of simple, recognizable tropes allows kids to easily connect with their story. The main character is also a great role model for young women — independently of finding love, she is also a brave, strong warrior and a brilliant astronomer. This book, as well as its companion tale “Prince & Knight,” was part of a new publishing partnership with GLAAD.
Image: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Even if you can’t explain broad, complex topics like gender and sexuality to younger readers, it’s never too early to start teaching them how to appreciate others (and themselves) for the uniqueness one brings to the world. In this board book, toddlers can learn the original meaning for each color that makes up the iconic pride flag. On each page, colors like red, green, and blue vividly represent concepts such as “Life,” “Nature,” and “Peace.” The colorful book will engage kids while teaching them the importance of kindness.
Image: MAGINATION PRESS
While there has been a recent emergence of picture books depicting different LGBTQ families and types of relationships, it’s rare to find honest, age-appropriate books that depict gay culture in a positive light. The tale uses a basic rhyme scheme and colorful, energetic illustrations to introduce kids to the parades that take place during Pride Month. But just because it’s a broad look at how the community celebrates, doesn’t mean that it shies away from quirkier, more radical aspects of Pride — there are drag queens, folks clad in leather, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It’s a book meant to spark a conversation about the LGBTQ community, and to that end, even includes a reading guide with notes for parents on how to do just that.
Image: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
Released for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, this is the first picture book that celebrates the story behind the Greenwich Village landmark. The book takes an interesting approach by having the Stonewall Inn itself narrate its own history. It takes a level of respectful vagueness in its depiction of police brutality and a literal riot. Instead, it focuses more on the diversity of the Greenwich neighborhood, and how the night of June 28th, 1969 led to further action for the LGBTQ community, who went on to demand equal rights and fair treatment. Still, the illustrations and tone don’t shy away from the fact that injustices were committed, making it an accurate, historical tale children need to hear.
Image: Penguin Random house
Over the years, there have been several books that tackle the way that gender nonconforming children deal with beauty, presentation, and the roles expected of them. This book feels like an especially important addition. The tale depicts a young boy who can’t stop daydreaming about becoming a mermaid after witnessing three gorgeously dressed women on the subway with his abuela. While similar titles have specific messages about learning to accept yourself like Julián, this book goes further than just having him figure out how to be proud of who he is. Seeing how his abuela reacts and how she accepts him unconditionally is just as important for young readers (especially Latinx readers) as how Julián dresses. This book demonstrates that there is a welcoming community waiting to embrace you, whoever you are.
Image: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS
For any couple who doesn’t conform to “normal” or “traditional” standards for what a relationship should look like, this book is a lovely and simple metaphor. An unconventional worm marriage works on multiple levels — it’s a subtle way to introduce to children the concept of same gender marriage, while also demonstrating in a broader sense that traditions (their bug friends describe in the book “how it’s usually done”) don’t need to be strictly followed. Who will wear the dress? Who will wear the tuxedo? Worms don’t need labels like “bride” and groom,” because they can be both! All that matters at the end of the day is love.
Image: Wide eyed editions
This book is a great introduction to a diverse range of inspirational role models that have defined the LGBTQ community throughout history. What makes this so special is the selection of individuals featured — pop culture icons are featured alongside ancient figures and modern activists. Young readers will certainly recognize some people (like Ellen DeGeneres and Freddie Mercury), but they’ll also learn about plenty of other international and historical figures (such as Kasha Nabagsera and Nobuko Yoshiya) that their history class might otherwise ignore. Each individual page has a short biography that highlights their inspiring stories and achievements — it’s a fairly basic, but good collection.
Image: Simon & Schuster
Jack (Not Jackie) is a great book to help young kids understand how gender identity and expression develop. The main character, Susan, watches her little sister Jackie grow up and slowly start showing interest in more traditionally masculine activities – she likes mud and bugs, as well as wearing their dads’ clothes. The book emphasizes that Jackie is doing “what feels right,” despite Susan’s initial hesitations, demonstrating that Jackie’s identity is neither wrong nor needs to be “fixed.” While the book may rely a little bit on stereotypical binary gender roles (dresses versus pants), Jackie’s family accepts them immediately, which is important representation for trans youth.
Highlighting the legacies of politician Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker, this book traces the history behind the creation of the modern Pride flag. It doesn’t provide too much detail on the lives of Milk and Baker, and only briefly covers Milk’s assassination. Instead it focuses on how they paved the way for future LGBTQ activism and created a new, uplifting symbol for LGBTQ individuals. The overwhelming message is that while there may be great leaders, eliminating prejudice takes decades and even lifetimes.