23 LGBTQ Books For Children And Teens To Help Diversify Their Bookshelf
June is Pride Month, the annual celebration of the LGBTQ community and a commemoration of all of the battles for equal rights that have been fought, the battles that have been won, and that battles that are still ongoing. While adults take the opportunity to attend rallies, walk in parades, and participate in demonstrations, young people can use the time to explore what pride, acceptance, and equality means by reading these LGBTQ books for kids of all ages. Every child's bookshelf should have room for every kind of story, and now is a great time to expand
Children's books have come a long way in the 27 since the the publication of Leslea Newman's Heather Has Two Mommies , the first kids book to depict a lesbian relationship. From board and picture books all the way up to middle grade series and young adult novels, the last three decades has seen a meaningful increase in the visibility and inclusion of LGBTQ stories in children's literature. For LGBTQ children everywhere, this has been a welcome change, and an opportunity for those kids to see themselves or their families reflected in their bedtime stories. And for kids who don't identify as LGBTQ, its an opportunity to learn why it's so important to be an ally.
Whether you're an adult looking to share diverse stories with a little one in your life, or just a curious reader looking to expand your own library, here are 23 LGBTQ books for kids of all ages. There's always room on the bookshelf for another meaningful story.
1. The Royal Heart by Greg McGoon
Greg McGoon's The Royal Heart is a sweet, heartwarming story about a young princess who was assigned male ("prince") at birth. An inspiring book about figuring out who you are and sharing it with the world, this picture book is a simple introduction to gender identity any child can learn from.
2. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel
Based on the real-life experiences of trailblazing transgender teen Jazz Jennings, I Am Jazz is a remarkable book every child and every parent should read. I Am Jazz is an honest book that will hopefully inspire empathy and understanding.
3. King and King and Family by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
In the follow-up to her wildly popular King & King & Family, Linda de Haan gives us a fun, no-fuss story about two kings starting a family of their own. When the two kings head off into the jungle, they find an even bigger adventure than they had imagined — the adventure of adopting a child together. King & King & Family is an inclusive picture story that shares the joy of two people who have found love and family.
4. Rumplepimple by Suzanne DeWitt Hall
A charming story about a misbehaved dog, his annoying big sister Chicken the cat, and his two loving moms, Rumplepimple is a a fun book every young reader, especially animal lovers, will enjoy. The book's inclusion of a lesbian couple helps normalize the idea of same-sex relationships and also can provide a great talking point for children learning about different kinds of families.
5. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
When two people fall in love, does it really matter who wears a dress and who wears a suit to the wedding? Not in the world of J.J. Austrian's Worm Loves Worm, a delightful story about two worms who fall in love and decide to get married in the presence of all of their friends. An adorable picture book that celebrates love in every way, Worm Loves Worm is destined to become a classic.
6. The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell
A beautifully diverse story featuring a Chinese protagonist with a gay father, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is a charming book about identity, family, and love. The only Chinese girl living in her small town in Maine, India has always felt different from the people around her, and she struggles to find out who she truly is. Luckily, she has a supportive mom, a loving dad, and a best friend who is always there when she needs. Sweet and sentimental, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is a wonderful children's book perfect for any middle grade reader.
7. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
A truly remarkable story every young reader can relate to, Donna Gephart's Lily and Dunkin is a powerful book about the difficulties of feeling different and the people in our lives that help us make it through. Lily, assigned male at birth, knows she is a girl. But being who she truly is, especially in middle school, is nearly impossible — that is, until she meets Dunkin, a new kid in town who is struggling with bipolar disorder and secrets of his own. Their meeting changes both of their lives forever. A breathtaking and emotional story told in a dual narrative, Lily and Dunkin is for every kid — every reader, really — who has ever felt different.
8. Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and YOU by Coryy Silver and Fiona Smyth
In the follow up to What Makes A Baby?, a popular picture book about the many different places babies come from, Cory Silverberg gives older readers a comic book guide to the changing bodies and emotions that come along with growing up. In Sex Is a Funny Word, all kinds of families, sexual orientations, and gender identities are represented in bright and colorful drawings meant to start aid adults in their conversation with children about bodies, gender, and sexuality. A brand new interpretation of the "sex talk," this is a nonfiction guide children will actually love.
9. George by Alex Gino
A touching middle grade novel about learning to be who you are, Alex Gino's George shares the fictional story of a young girl struggling to realize her true identity, and the friends that help her to do it. George knows that even though she is a boy on the outside, she's meant to be a girl on the inside, and when her class decides to put on a production of Charlotte's Web, she sees an opportunity to show everyone the truth. When her teacher won't let her try out for the girl part in the play, George and her best friend Kelly have to come up with another plan to show people who George truly is. A heartwarming tale of identity, friendship, and love, George is a moving middle grade read.
10. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
The author of Better Nate Than Ever, Tim Federle is back again with an LGBTQ-inclusive story for young readers. In The Great American Whatever, Quinn Roberts is still reeling from the death of his sister when his best friend convinces him that it's time to start living again. When Quinn meets a cute guy at a party, his whole life begins to change, and he imagines himself getting the fairy tale ending that only really happens in movies.
11. How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy
In her heartbreaking YA novel about love, loss, and belonging, Yvonne Cassidy tackles the heavy-hitting issues of death, sexuality, and disability through the story of Rhea Farrell, a homeless girl living in New York. It's been over a decade since Rhea wrote to her deceased mother, but now that she finds herself alone on the streets, both parents dead, Rhea finds comfort in penning letters to the mom she never knew. It becomes an outlet for all of her secrets, including her sexuality, and a tool for figuring out not only who her mother was, but who she, Rhea, is. A diverse, emotionally stirring book, How Many Letters Are In Goodbye should be read with tissues in hand.
12. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
A poignant and stirring coming-of-age novel, Meredith Russo's If I Was Your Girl is a beautiful story about one young girl learning to be who she truly is, inside and out. After a violent incident in her home of Atlanta, Amanda moves in with her father, a man she's been estranged from for years, in Tennessee in an attempt to make a fresh start. There, she finds a set of friends she thinks she can trust and a boy whom she might actually love.... but what if they find out that she used to be Andrew? Will the truth destroy her new life? An honest and heartfelt book, If I Was Your Girl is a truly compelling read.
13. You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
YA superstars Nina LaCour and David Levithan team up for You Know Me Well, the story of two classmates who experience a chance encounter during Pride Week that changes their lives forever. When Kate runs into Mark miles away from home, she finally gets a chance to know the boy she's been sitting next to all year... and what she learns surprises her. While Kate grapples with her feelings for a mysterious girl, Violet, Matt struggles with his own feelings for his best friend, Ryan. The two unlikely friends find they have a lot more in common than they thought. Told in alternating points of view, You Know Me Well is a touching story about love, heartache, and friendship.
14. When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
In Raziel Reid's LGBTQ YA novel When Everything Feels Like the Movies, protagonist Reid feels just that: like his life is just like a film, right down to the divide between the extras and the movie stars. As he struggles with the homophobia and prejudice of his classmates at school, Jude retreats further and further into the fantastical life he's made up in his head. But eventually, he has to come to terms with his own reality. Loaded with pop culture references, important lessons about being yourself, and enough high school drama for a teen television series, When Everything Feels Like the Movies is a unique and shocking read — in a good way.
15. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
An inspiring story of a gender fluid teen, Jeff Garvin's Symptoms of Being Human is an honest look at what it's like to feel trapped and alone in high school. There are some morning Riley wakes up feeling like a girl, and other times Riley wakes up feeling like a boy. But mostly, Riley tries to look as androgynous as possible to avoid questions from classmates and unwanted attention that could hurt their father's political career. But when Riley starts an anonymous blog about what it is like to be gender fluid, it doesn't stay anonymous for long, and Riley must decided whether or not they're ready to share the truth with the world.
16. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Aaron Soto's life in the Bronx hasn't been easy: he's poor, his dad is dead, his mom is overworked. When his girlfriend leaves for a few weeks to attend an art camp, Aaron's life gets even more complicated when he falls in love with a new friend, Thomas. Instead of embracing these emotions, Aaron considers having his memory altered at the controversial Leteo Institute, because he believes it may be easier to change who he is than be who he is. An intense and gritty read, More Happy Than Not is a gripping story you won't want to miss.
17. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old Simon likes the drama in his life to be confined to the stage. But when his biggest secret lands in the hands of the wrong person, his life suddenly becomes very, very dramatic. A sweet and romantic story about young love and self-acceptance, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a fun and entertaining read that will have you cheering for Simon until the very last page.
18. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Benjamin Alire Sáenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a beautiful coming-of-age story about two young Mexican-American boys coming to terms with their feelings about themselves and about each other. For Aristotle, life is full of anger and loss, and for Dante, the world is a strange and unusual place full of possibility. When the two loners meet, they find they may have more in common then they thought. Powerful and poetic, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe will give you all the feels.
19. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
In the second installment of the Daylight Falls series, Under the Lights, teen actress Vanessa Park's already complex life gets a whole lot more complicated. With her best friend across the country, Vanessa find herself relying on Bri, her new career handler, for a lot more than just work. This sweet romance is told in the alternating perspectives of Vanessa and Josh, a fellow actor who falls for the Korean-American star. But, as the tagline says: Sometimes the boy doesn't get the girl. Sometimes, the other girl does.
20. True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
An emotional novel about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality, Kenneth Logan's True Letters from a Fictional Life is a coming out story every teen should read. Although it seems like James Liddell has it all — the dream girl, the great group of guy friends, the jock reputation — he's hiding a big secret: he's gay. James tries to come to terms with his sexuality through the letters he writes — the letters he never intends to send. But when the letters land in the wrong hands, James must come to terms with who he is.
21. Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry
The perfect summer read for teens, Alison Cherry's Look Both Ways is a fun story about a young girl who thought she knew exactly who she wanted to be — only her true self was someone she never expected. A poignant book about doubt and self discovery, Look Both Ways has everything a beach read needs: love, laughter, and plenty of page-turning drama.
22. Run by Kody Keplinger
When Bo Dickinson and Agnes Atwood's lives collide in Kody Keplinger's Run, both girls lives (and hearts) are changed forever. Agnes has lived a sheltered life, so when she begins to form a friendship with Bo, the town's resident bad girl, it seems like an unlikely pairing. But the more the girls get to know each other, the more they realize they have a stronger bond than either of them expected. An inspiring story of two strong young women, Run is exactly how quickly you should move to go pick up this book.
23. Without Annette by Jane B. Mason
Moving and funny all at once, Jane B. Mason's Without Annette tells the story of Josie Little, a teenager struggling to navigate a new life and new secrets. For Josie, there could be nothing better than finally moving to Brookwood Academy, a boarding school, with her girlfriend, Annette. But when Annette decides to to keep their relationship a secret, Josie finds not everything is as perfect as she had hoped. A raw and emotional story, Without Annette will make you laugh, cry, and do just about everything in between.