Today my guest author is Laurin Mayeno. She’s an activist mom at OutProudFamilies, and a Huffington Post blogger. Her new children’s book, One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo (oneofalikeme.com), is illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo and translated by Teresa Mlwar. You might recognize Robert Liu-Trujillo’s work from his poster for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo
This bilingual Spanish picture book gently introduces gender diversity. Danny wants to be a purple princess for the school parade, and his family helps him create a costume from thrift store finds. The author hopes that her book gives children a sense of belonging, courage to be who they are, and an appreciation for people who are different from themselves. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
This bilingual book (Spanish/English) is based on Laurin’s son, Danny. We are giving away a copy of One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.
Great news! The list of LGBTQ-themed children’s books is growing! Here are some of my favorite releases from the past two years, with a special focus on those that reflect many types of diversity in our families and communities.
10 Groundbreaking LGBTQ Children’s Books
1. The Boy and the Bindi by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Rajni Perera
A boy asks his Ammi about the dot above her nose. When she gives him his own bindi, he discovers that it watches over him and allows him to explore and express who he is. This book is nothing short of magical! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
2. Call Me Tree/Llamame árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez, translation by Dana Goldberg
Just like a tree, a child grows tall and strong, reaches out, belongs, and is free to be. I love the carefree child in this book, who could be any gender. English and Spanish words and vivid illustrations flow together like a song. [picture book, for ages 3 and up]
3. Who You Are? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff
Hooray for this book that helps explain gender to children and supports them to be who they are! It breaks down concepts like expression, and gender identity using language and vivid illustrations that make it easy to understand. [non-fiction picture book, ages 3 and up]
4. Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
This book is a fantastic way to send a powerful, yet simple message. Everyone in this humorous story wants the crayon to be red, just like the paper it is wrapped in. Will the crayon eventually learn to embrace its true color? [picture book, ages 4 and up]
5. George by Alex Gino
George is a fourth grader who everyone thinks is a boy, but she realizes that she’s a girl. Readers follow George’s journey as she comes to terms with, and finds ways to express, who she is. The fun storyline keeps us wondering what will happen next. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
6. Sex is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and You by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smith (Middle Grades)
This book is a great tool for talking with children about a range of topics including the word “sex”, bodies, crushes, consent, and more. Written and illustrated in a playful, engaging, and empowering way, it is inclusive of many types of diversity. [comic book, ages 7 and up]
7. Meet Polkadot by Talcott Broadhead
Yay for a book that highlights a child whose identity is neither boy nor girl. Told through the eyes of a child named Polkadot, it is an information-packed resource that can help us learn about gender, explore who we are, and become better allies. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
8. El Dragon Diferente by Jennifer Bryan, illustrated by Danamarie Hosler, translation by Alba Clarke
In this Spanish translation of The Different Dragon, a child named Noé and one of his moms make up a magical bedtime story about a ferocious, but sad dragon. They bring us into a loving home and encourage us to celebrate our differences. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
9. Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Laura Cornell
This new edition of a classic is an affirming story about Heather who lives happily with two mommies. At school, she realizes her family is different. She and her classmates discover the beauty of family diversity through art. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
10. Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson
Errol and Thomas the teddy play together every day. Thomas is afraid to tell Errol that she’s really Tilly, a girl teddy. This story about friendship and being who you are can help young children understand and appreciate gender diversity. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
More Great LGBTQ+ Children’s Books
My Mommies Built a Treehouse by Gareth Peter, illustrated by Izzy Evans
A boy dreams of building a treehouse and his two mommies both have the right skill set to help him. One Mommy knows all about construction and creating a plan. His other Mommy is a doctor and understands how to choose the right tree. It’s a big project, but together, they persevere. The treehouse is a spectacular success! This is a story that just happens to have two moms and shows this family tackling issues that all families face. It’s a good reminder that LGBTQIA stories can also show everyday life because that’s important too. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick, illustrated by Juana Medina
This familiar poem based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas also includes a deep dive into the history of the Pride Parade. Author Joanna McClintick, as a social worker at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center in Manhattan, is the perfect person to relay this important history lesson! Embedded in the illustrations are easter eggs with more historical references. Each endpaper includes illustrations of famous LGBTQIA people and the brooch, a stylistic design drawn at the top of the page that takes the reader back to 1969 and has an important backstory in the history of LGBTQIA rights. This picture book both entertains and teaches. It’s the perfect read for June’s Pride Month as well as all year long! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Strong by Rob Kearney and Eris Rosswood, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani
Rob is a strongman champion and this is his story about being his true authentic self. It turns out that strongmen can wear bright, bold colors! In fact, they help him feel more confident and strong. And this is an important message to all children! The back matter gives more information about the Strongman sport which is a series of weightlifting events. [picture book sports biography, ages 4 and up]
Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
This is a universal story of a child missing a parent, but it is also a depiction of a multi-racial family with two moms. There aren’t many picture books about two moms, and I don’t think I’ve seen a multi-racial version before so this is a wonderful addition for kids to see this in a book! Half of the two mom couples that I know from my community have multi-racial representation and they will be glad to learn of this book! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Green Eyes and Ham by Mary Penney
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“While Ham and Micah’s budding romance is well developed, the problems with it seem like something written in the 1990s, when horrible things seemed to always happen to gay characters.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
This New York Times bestselling picture book about Mike Pence’s gay pet rabbit has a message of tolerance and demonstrates how democracy works to protect the rights of minority groups, in this case, those advocating for same-sex marriage. With humor that also teaches, this book celebrates anyone who has ever felt different from the crowd. 100% of this book will be donated to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.[picture book, ages 4 and up]
Rainbow Revolutionaries: Fifty LGBTQ+ People Who Made History by Sarah Prager, illustrated by Sarah Papworth
Learn about LGBTQ+ history through these stories of 50 luminaries including an Angolan queen, an Olympic athlete, a Civil War soldier, and other notable people. [middle grade anthology, ages 8 and up]
Second Dad Summer by Benjamin Klas
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This includes a lot of practical information about the LGBTQIA+ community in a very age-appropriate and straightforward manner. While Jeremiah loves his dad and understands his dad’s lifestyle in the abstract, it’s interesting to see how he processes the reality of moving from his mom’s to his dad’s. The inclusion of some history, via Mr. Keeler, adds some depth to the story. There’s plenty of fun activities for Sage and Jeremiah to investigate, which keep the story from becoming too didactic.” [early chapter book, ages 7 and up]
Nikhil Out Loud by Maulik Pancholy
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Nikhil and his mother live in Los Angeles; she’s a graphic designer who started her own business after the pandemic, and he’s a voice actor who is the main character in the animated series Raj Ready in OuterSpace. He’s all set to start 8th grade with his best friend, Anton, but his mother informs him that they’re moving back to live with her parents in Ohio because her father, Nikhil’s Nana, is ill and her mother, Nani needs help. It’s always just been Nikhil and his mom; his father is remarried and has a new family in Texas. Hikhil will be able to still record for Raj Ready, and he’s a little curious about why he hasn’t really spent time with his grandparents. He starts at Sycamore Middle School, and things go fairly well. He meets DeSean, who is active in the school’s drama program and shows him around. Even when kids realize that he’s an actor, they are still nice. Monica Kim is glad to see a successful Asian actor, and when a reporter from the school newspaper interviews him and (with Nikhil’s permission) mentions that he’s gay, everyone is supportive. He gets the lead in the school play, which feels awkward; he tried out mainly to be with his new friends and knows that DeSean is a better singer. When a community member complains that Nikhil is using his position as a start to influence fellow students with his gay agenda and wants him to be pulled from his lead role, Nikhil doesn’t feel he can step aside to let DeSean have the part. The school does not bow down to the woman’s ridiculous demands, and Nikhil’s mother, both of DeSean’s moms and his classmates all assure him that they are glad he is in the play. His grandfather, on the other hand, is not pleased with the voice acting or the fact that Nikhil is public about his identity. Adding to Nikhil’s stress is the fact that his voice is changing, which leads to problems with the television show. When the community member plans to picket the school production, how will Nikhil and his friends handle this situation?” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Real Riley Mayes by Rachel Elliott
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“ Even though Riley is having problems, she still is fairly upbeat, and the color palette reflects that with sunny yellows and blues. Her parents don’t quite understand her but try to work with her rather than punish her for things like cutting her own hair. (They offer to help trim it a bit, and put forward the opinion that it’s a bit drastic, but are otherwise okay with it.) While a good number of the children in her class are mean, she does at least have support from Aaron, who gets her sense of humor, and Cate, who sticks up for her with the mean girls. Riley’s questioning, and wanting to seek help from Aaron’s dads, seems realistic, and the treatment she receives at school is also, sadly, probably true to form. ” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The One Who Loves You Most by medina
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This could be used as a textbook on how to properly ask about and address people whose exterior appearance might not align with their inner identifications. Many of the characters are within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and Gabriela learns a lot about describing what she feels from other people, books, and YouTube videos. There is some information about her mother’s mental health condition, and she does get help after a somewhat accidental overdose of sleeping pills. The school is very supportive, and the students who exhibit bullying behavior are dealt with firmly and constructively.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Fabulous Zed Watson! by Basil Sylvester, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Review from Lee Wind:
“Zed Watson loves a few things: their name (which they chose themself!), their big rambunctious family, and–oh yeah–monsters. When Zed discovered the mystery surrounding an unpublished novel called The Monster’s Castle, they were completely hooked. Now Zed is a member of a small but dedicated legion devoted to finding the long-buried text.
When a breakthrough discovery leads Zed to the route that they are sure will take them to the treasure, they know it’s time for a road trip. And with the help of their shy, flora-loving neighbor, Gabe, and his sister, Sam, a geologist who is driving back to college in Arizona, Zed, and company are soon off on a wild adventure following cryptic clues.
But it’s not all fun and games. Gabe doesn’t like Zed’s snacks, Sam is a bossy driver with total command of the ancient Impreza’s stereo, and Zed is often misgendered. It’s a good thing they also encounter kind strangers, potato-themed dance-offs, and lots and lots of ice cream along the way. If Zed and Gabe can combine their strengths, survive Sam’s wrath and best the greedy historian who’s also hot on the book’s trail, they just might find the greatest treasure of all.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Art of Running Away by Sabrina Klecker
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
” There’s a lot of good LGBTQIA+ representation; in addition to Rowan and Calum, Alicia has two mothers. Maisie herself isn’t sure where her attractions lie, and the discussion with Rose about how to be an effective ally is an important one. I’m a fan of any book that involves traveling to other countries, and Maisie does manage to enjoy her time away from home. The struggling art business, as well as Maisie’s artistic aspirations, will appeal to many readers. ” [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
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Laurin Mayeno is a consultant, blogger, and first-time children’s book author, who is inspired by her gay, gender-expansive son. She helps organizations work effectively with children across the gender spectrum and their families.
p.s. Related posts:
LGBTQ Book Lists for Kids
Understanding Transgender with LGBTQ+ Books for Kids
Favorite Children’s Books Featuring a LGBTQ Character
5 Great Books for LGBT History Month & Kid Lit Blog Hop
Meet Asian Pacific American Hero Margaret Cho
Meet Asian Pacific American Hero Prabal Gurung
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Amazon / Barefoot Books / Signed or Inscribed by Me
Amazon / Scholastic / Signed or Inscribed by Me
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
13 thoughts on “10 Groundbreaking LGBTQ Children’s Books”
We loved RED; it was such a fun book.
Hi Mother of 3,
I need to read that again! I feel like I get it confused with other crayon books.
Thanks for the list, Laurin! I loved George! It was so moving.
And I would add Worm Loves Worm to your PB list. It’s just so spot on!
Thanks Maria! Glad you loved George.
Thanks Maria! I am grateful to Laurin because surprisingly, I didn’t have a LGBTQ list before!
I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only read one of the books listed. I love the cover of ONE OF A KIND LIKE ME and the theme of the book. I need to review more LGBTQ books.
I honestly think that there aren’t enough of LGBTQ books for kids out there which is why you haven’t run across them more often.
Thank you for the great list! Just a small world-ism – I used to live in Berkeley and knew Rebecca Mayeno.
Fantastic! Maybe you know that she was my mother. I dedicated the book (about her grandson) to her. 🙂
I love that you are able to tell her story now without diluting it down. It’s very impactful and hers is an important story for everyone to know about. It’s shocking how recent these boarding schools operated as well, both in Canada and in the United States. The politicians have a lot to answer for.
What a small world!! I love that!
Red was a great story. I will look into the others on the list as well! 🙂
I am the opposite; I need to re-read Red. I feel like I’ve read it standing at the book store, but the crayon books are starting to run together for me.