Though LGBTQ content is still the number one reason children’s books get banned or challenged, that luckily hasn’t seemed to slow down publishing of LGBTQ children’s books, because kids need queer books! Picture books featuring two moms or two dads have been published since the 80s, and they’ve only diversified and multiplied from there. We still have a way to go, of course, especially for books that represent other identities (like trans parents and kids) or more intersectional representation (like disabled queer parents), but there is a lot more to choose from than there was a generation ago.
Happily, that means that LGBTQ board books are now available! Board books are children’s books made with sturdy paperboard pages, able to withstand grasping hands and some chewing. They’re perfect for babies, and they allow parents to introduce children to books early, so they always feel like a natural part of their lives. They are also useful for when babies hit the tear-up-every-book phase.
These LGBTQ board books range from incidentally showing LGBTQ families to teaching about Pride. This isn’t a complete list–I’ve left off the most well-known LGBTQ picture books that have been adapted to board books, because I want to introduce you to new titles!
Board Books About LGBTQ Families
We Are Little Feminists: Families by Little Feminist, Archaa Shrivastav and Lindsey Blakely
I highly recommend checking out all the Little Feminist board books! Each features photos of a diverse array of people on a theme. This one focuses on all the different forms a family can take, including families with two moms or two dads. There are families of many different races and cultures represented as well. This was the winner of the 2021 Stonewall Awards!
Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer
This board book with bright illustrations shows lots of different families, including families with one parent, two dads, or two moms, as well as representing interracial families. As the title suggests, it shows that love makes a family. There are lots of ways to show that love, from building blanket forts together to rescuing a toy from the fish tank!
My Family, Your Family! by Kathryn Cole, illustrated by Cornelia Li
“There is no one size fits all when it comes to families.” This story includes families who live in multigenerational homes, blended families, families who live far away from each other, as well as families with single parents, two moms, or two dads. They all go to the park together, and kids will be able to search the family that most resembles their own, whether it’s one with a pack of siblings or made up of just two or three people.
Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson
From the author of the classic Heather Has Two Mommies (also available in board book) comes another board book featuring a family with two moms. This one depicts a Black mother and a white mother taking care of their baby. A simple rhyming text narrates them playing together, the baby taking a bath, and finally, getting tucked into bed. This is a great title to show (without didactically explaining) that LGBTQ families are just like any other. Also check out the matching book, Daddy, Papa, and Me!
Love in the Wild by Katy Tanis
This one departs a bit from the previous books on this list. Instead of showing a human family, it shows same-sex families in animals in the wild, as well as non-binary gender expression and more! The author is a biologist who used data from scientific observations for the examples included. It is meticulously researched, but communicates in simple rhyming text and bright illustrations that babies will love.
LGBTQ Board Books with Incidental Representation
Baby’s First Words/Mis Primeras Palabras by Stella Blackstone and Sunny Scribens, illustrated by Christiane Engel
By “incidental representation,” I mean stories that “happen” to have LGBTQ characters without the story revolving about that fact. For instance, in this bilingual board book (also available in just English), everyday objects are labelled to help teach babies their first words. This family has two dads, but that’s not the focus of the story–it could easily have been a mom and dad family without changing a word. This helps to normalize LGBTQ families.
Federico and All His Families by Mili Hernández, illustrated by Gómez
Federico the cat travels along rooftops to visit all his families in the day, including families with two moms, two dads, and one with grandparents. They also have different skin tones and cultures. This title could just as easily be in the “family” section of this post, and would pair nicely with any of those, but the cat main character will be a great hook for animal-loving readers. This was originally published in Spanish as Federico y sus Familias!
Early One Morning by Lawrence Schimel, illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa
This one isn’t out until September 2021, but it looks adorable. This is a rhyming board book about a boy and his cat who wake up before his moms and make themselves breakfast. This author and illustrator also have a similarly incidental LGBTQ board with two dads: Bedtime, Not Playtime! Early One Morning is also available in French and was originally published in Catalan.
I’m a Librarian by Brian Briggs
Each of the Tinyville Town books follows a different character in the town going through a typical day in their profession. In this one, it’s the town librarian, and it shows him helping a boy find a book. At the end of the day, he comes home to his husband. This is a good match for kids who like Sesame Street, or who are interested in what different kinds of people do all day.
Board Books That Teach About Pride
Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson
Incidental representation is all well and good, but sometimes you want to read something loud and proud! This board book teaches the names of colors, but it also shows images of LGBTQ families, and there is a section at the back explaining the meaning behind each color in the Pride flag. Also stay tuned for Robin Stevenson’s upcoming picture book, Pride Puppy!
Our Rainbow by Little Bee Books
I love that this board book uses the Philadelphia rainbow flag with black and brown stripes! It goes through each color and its meaning, with a different illustrator for every spread. The book is in the shape of a waving flag, which adds some visual interest. This was produced in partnership with GLAAD.
Spirit Day: A Book About Spreading Joy by Little Bee Books, illustrated by Joy Yang
Pride isn’t the only holiday worth celebrating with an LGBTQ board book! This one explains what Spirit Day is: “A day to be super-kind and stand up to bullying! Because EVERYONE has a right to feel safe.” It sends a great message about kindness and anti-bullying in general, with a focus on LGBTQ acceptance. It includes a wheelchair-using main character and gender nonconformity, as well as people of different races.
RuPaul Charles (People of Pride) by Little Bee Books, illustrated by Vincent Chen
The People of Pride series each follows an LGBTQ icon in a brief biography. This one narrates RuPaul from childhood to the present, through performing in rock bands to hosting TV shows. It also includes some of his memorable quotes. Check out People of Pride: Harvey Milk, too!
Those picks should at least get you started in rainbowfying your baby’s bookshelves! (Or your niblings’!) I’m also interested in the upcoming Being You: A First Conversation About Gender (First Conversations) by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier. If you’re interested in starting a conversation about gender with your little one, the picture book (not board book, unfortunately) They, She, He: Easy as ABC by Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew Sg is also worth checking out.
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