As we make our way toward The Best Day of the Year — Pride, natch — publishers are releasing a whole slew of new LGBTQ+ picture books. A few of these are already available, but a handful will be released in May. I’m excited to get my greedy, gay lil’ hands on them.
There is such a breadth of queer life being covered by the books. We meet diverse families and children coming out as trans or gender-diverse, and other topics include first crushes, being yourself, the meaning of Pride, and the fabulousness of drag. As someone who didn’t grow up with any of this in childhood pop culture, these books have me warm, fuzzy, and occasionally teary.
Regardless of whether you have family or friends who are LGBTQ+, take it from this librarian that it’s essential to show children various ways to be happy and true to themselves. Finally, we’ve written about LGBTQ+ picture books and board books before, so visit those posts for more recommendations.
Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty and David Roberts
This is a perfect picture book. The text rhymes in the best and wittiest way. The art is charming and detailed with visual jokes, and the family featured is diverse, with two Black fathers and their adorable children. And finally, the story, about a family preparing for a family visit but contending with their wily cat, is hilarious.
Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild and Charlene Chua
This is a gently romantic story for kids with illustrations bathed in soft purple, pink, and yellow tones. It’s about Violet, who has a strong desire to adventure alongside her classmate Mira. Unfortunately, Violet panics each time Mira speaks to her. It’s all very sweet and earnest — definitely left me smiling and filled with memories of my youthful girl-crushes. Also, it is a 2022 Lambda Literary Award Finalist.
My Own Way by Joana Estrela and Jay Hulme
Using vibrant, simple images and succinct, rhyming text, My Own Way teaches children that everyone is unique and that there is no one way to be. It has been translated from its original Portuguese form by Jay Hulme, an award-winning transgender poet.
Calvin by JR Ford, Vanessa Ford, and Kayla Harren
Calvin knows he’s a boy, even if other people think he’s a girl. When he tells his family, they are incredibly loving and supportive. But once he needs to go back to school, he gets nervous again. When the day arrives, however, everyone is encouraging! Another 2022 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, written jointly by the parents of a trans child.
Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour and Kaylani Juanita
As a fan of LaCour’s writing for teens, I’m jazzed to get a copy of this picture book featuring a family with two moms. LaCour’s text is paired with Juanita’s mixed-media illustrations to tell a story about a little girl who misses her travelling parent.
Strong by Rob Kearney, Eric Rosswood, and Nidhi Chanani (May 10)
Rob wants to fulfil his dream of being a champion strongman, but he worries he won’t fit in because he loves bright colours and patterns. Will he be able to find the confidence to be himself? Co-authored by Kearney, the only openly gay professional strongman, and Rosswood, a gay parenting expert.
‘Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick and Juana Medina (May 10)
This book features the digital illustrations of Medina, a Pura Belpré Award-winning author and illustrator. Modelled on the poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”, the rhyming text provides a sense of community while explaining the topics that got us from Stonewall and AIDS marches to where we are now.
The Meaning of Pride by Rosiee Thor and Sam Kirk (May 10)
Another educational picture book that introduces young readers to historical and contemporary LGBTQ+ figures and threads it through with the importance of why we celebrate Pride.
If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It by Lil Miss Hot Mess and Olga De Dios Ruiz (May 17)
Bye Bye, Binary by Eric Geron and Charlene Chua (May 24)
A board book for your littlest ones. In this wry book, a baby chooses toys, colours, and clothes that make them happy. I love this line from the book’s description: “Our little bundle of joy has arrived — to dismantle gender norms!”
Overall, it’s inspiring to see how many new LGBTQ+ picture books there are right now. I love knowing that kids will have all sorts of representation to turn to — rhyming silliness, colourful information, celebrations of their uniqueness, and examples of diverse families. Find these books and share them with the people in your life.