I’m a queer mom to two beautiful kids, ages four and ten.
I’m also the founder of OurShelves, an LGBTQ+ and other diverse kids’ books subscription service, which I founded because it was too hard to find high-quality and age-appropriate books depicting LGBTQ+ families like ours and so many other kinds of kids and families.
In both contexts, the number one topic discussed around LGBTQ+ kids’ books – both by LGBTQ+ grown-ups and allies – is: can we find books that depict LGBTQ+ kids and families in which the storyline doesn’t involve bullying or homophobia or transphobia, where kids are just being kids?
To be clear, books about bullying, homophobia, and transphobia are extremely important. Bullying, homophobia, and transphobia occur rampantly and carry life and death consequences. So we must read these books . . .
And also . . . .
Our kids should also see themselves – and other kids should see our kids and families – in silly, playful kids’ books, stories about the changing of the seasons and holidays, stories about the all-too-familiar-topic of avoiding bedtime, and all of it.
All of it.
So today I share with you ten examples of LGBTQ+ children’s books reviewed by our OurShelves Curation Team of experts and selected for OurShelves book boxes that help us get closer to seeing our families in all of it.
Board Books (Ages 0-2):
BABY’S FIRST WORDS: This is a baby’s first words book, and it happens to center a main character child of color with two parents who can be read as dads of different races. It has beautiful imagery, and while little ones are identifying the words and pictures in the story, they can also search for the rhino hiding on each page!
UH OH: This is a sweet going-to-the-beach book featuring toddlers playing on the beach with the common refrain of “Uh Oh!” Many LGBTQ+ families, including mine, have claimed this book a two-mom book, which the illustrator of the book supports while admitting this wasn’t initially her intention. This is a great example of how we have needed to find ourselves in books even where we weren't intended -- because our representation has been so sparse.
Picture Books (Ages 3-8):PLENTY OF HUGS: With high quality text and prose following a two-mom family through their special day together, this is exactly the book I was waiting for a major publisher to publish. Not only that, LGBTQ+ illustrator, Kate Alizadeh, featured one of the moms with short hair, another rare find in children’s books. Check out this video Kate made for our community!
MR. WATSON’S CHICKENS: Beware! If you read this very silly book, your children will not be able to stop singing Aunt Agnes’s very catchy tune! Illustrated by Asian American LGBTQ+ illustrator, Andrea Tsurumi, little ones will not stop giggling as they read this playful story about Mr. Watson and Mr. Nelson and their chickens. Check out this video Andrea made for us!
MAMA AND MOMMY AND ME IN THE MIDDLE: Written by Nina Coleur and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, both LGBTQ+, this is a beautiful two-mom story about a child where one mom goes away for a work trip for the week. At one point early in the story, the child’s teacher asks the class, “Is anyone else missing someone they love?” This is a universal, relatable theme, set in the context of this beautiful two-mom family.
THE BREAD PET: Written by LGBTQ+ author Kate DePalma, this story featuring a child of color with a double cochlear implant in a two-mom family is all about a sourdough starter growing . . . and growing . . . and growing . . . . The child makes a wonderful decision about what to do with her ever-growing bread pet. We are especially excited about this book because DePalma shares, "Discussions with OurShelves influenced our decision to choose to feature a two-mom family in THE BREAD PET: A SOURDOUGH STORY."
UNCLE BOBBY’S WEDDING: Uncle Bobby and his niece, Chloe, have a very special relationship. So Chloe is not happy to learn that Uncle Bobby is getting married to Jamie. Thankfully, she learns that Uncle Bobby's marriage will bring more fun, not less!
A PLAN FOR POPS: Lou, whose gender is not defined, has two grandfathers, one who loves rock and roll and one who loves science. One grandpa has a fall, and Lou comes us with a plan to help him restore hope. The fact that Lou has two gay grandpas is not called into question.
PEANUT GOES FOR THE GOLD: Peanut is a nonbinary guinea pig who likes to do everything in their own special way. This is a super-fun, playful story celebrating Peanut in all of their glory. Being nonbinary is incidental to the storyline.
CALVIN: How refreshing to see a transgender child, and in this case a trans child of color (also rare in LGBTQ+ kids' books), receiving affirmation, support, and love from parents, grandparents, and school!