DÍA: Great Kids' Books about LGBTQ People

Celebrate DIA, Diversity in Action, with these children's books featuring characters who are LGBTQ.

 Whoa people, have you checked us out on twitter lately? Like yesterday or today? Tons of pictures and personal testimony in support of #WeNeedDiverseBooks --keep it coming for the rest of the week, will you? Take a picture of yourself holding a sign with your reasons why we need diverse books, then email it to sharon@mckellar.org (she's our community relations librarian!). We'll tweet it and you'll be a part of history.

Today, our series of awesome diverse children's books continues with books featuring characters who are lesbian \ gay \ bisexual \ transgender \ queer. As with this week's other post, you'll find lots more titles of note on Pinterest!

You've seen And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson, right? True story of two penguin daddies who raise a penguin chick together at the Central Park Zoo. Lovely story, perfect for sharing with kids under five.

Welp, since the year it came out, it has landed pretty consistently every year on ALA's top ten most frequently challenged books. In 2012, that sweet, cozy story about two male penguins in love and raising a baby came in right under Fifty Shades of Grey in numbers of people who asked a library to take it off their shelves. Is that why there haven't been that many LGBTQ picture books published since that one came out? The 2014 ALA Rainbow List, which collects "quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content," didn't have a single picture book on it. The 2013 list has one. 2010 had the most, with a whopping six. 

This year, we can count on at least one: Jacob's New Dress, by Sara Hoffman. Jacob is a boy who would rather wear dresses than pants; his parents support him, and with his teacher's help, his classmates come to accept Jacob's choice of gender expression. A powerful little story, not dissimilar to Marcus Ewert's 2008 hit 10,000 Dresses. What we're still missing altogether is a picture book about a gender-nonconforming child who was born female. There are plenty of "girls can do anything!" type books, but I can't think of one in which an I-can-do-anything female-born character also has a non-traditional gender presentation. Can anyone else? (Ahem-- if there isn't one, that means one of you local authors needs to write it.) 

A really nice book for families learning to celebrate all kinds of differences. Pick up Mary Hoffman's The Great Big Book of Families--you could spend hours looking at the pictures alone.

Okay, chapter books! Here there are some great choices, and the newer crop has some for tween readers (9-12). First, if you haven't been reading Tim Federle's Nate books, you are going to have to change that right now. Nate is an eighth grade boy who loves musical theater, fears beatdowns from the town bullies, and has a fresh and funny eye for life. In Better Nate Than Ever, Nate sneaks off to New York City to audition for a Broadway musical; in Five, Six, Seven, Nate! his adventure continues. I know that summary tells you nothing! I don't want to spoil it!

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier, is about a theater geek girl who has a crush and... is in for some disappointment. But! the show does go on, and it's a cool and funny one at that. A winner for middle schoolers.


Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, by Kristin Cronn-Mills, was a tied win for the 2014 Stonewall awards with Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo. In Beautiful, Gabe is a high schooler transitioning away from being Elizabeth; he finds some acceptance in his community, and some dangerous resistance. In Fat Angie, Angie is grappling with the death of her sister and her attraction to the new girl in school. Both terrific reads.

Finally, two recommended by Janine Mogannam, one of OPL's teen librarians. If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan is the story of two Iranian girls determined to love each other despite the risk of execution. Adaptation is part of a sci-fi trilogy by Malinda Lo, a local author. Pick 'em up!

Don't forget to click through to Pinterest for more kids' LGBTQ titles!