Published Date: 06/17/20
Speaking with children about diversity is critical in shaping their world view. Books and other media can open up those conversations and make it easier for parents who may not have direct experience with the subject matter.
In honor of Pride Month, here are ten books to help you discuss LGBTQIA+ topics with your children, including books about gender identity. For more diverse books, check out Children's Books by Black Authors With Black Characters to Help You Talk About Race with Preschoolers.
We’ve also included a helpful glossary of LGBTQIA+ terminology to help you can initiate conversations with your children using the correct language.
Conversations about LGBTQIA+ concepts do not have to include information about the physical act of sex (here’s a guide on speaking to children about sex in an age appropriate way). Children understand romantic love from seeing parents, family members, family friends, and through media and some information can be framed that way. And remember, sexual attraction is separate from gender identify.
Asexual: A person who is not sexually attracted to other people.
Biological sex: Also called assigned sex or assigned sex at birth, it refers to the male or female label given based on genitalia a person is born with.
Bisexual: A person who is sexually attracted to people who share their gender and people of the opposite gender.
Cisgender: People who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gay: A person who is sexually attracted to people of the same sex. Can encompass both men and women, but is more often used for men.
What to tell kids: Some men love other men romantically.
Gender: Behaviors, feelings, and attitudes that a culture ascribes to an individual’s biological sex.
Gender Expression: The ways in which someone chooses to demonstrate their gender to other people, for example through makeup, clothing, and hairstyles.
Gender Identity: The gender an individual feels they are, even if it differs from their sexual anatomy.
Gender Nonconforming: A person who expresses their gender and/or identity on a spectrum and whose appearance or behavior does not necessarily comply with societal expectations about what is appropriate for their gender.
Genderqueer: People who do not identify or express their gender within the gender binary. They may neither identify as male nor female and see themselves outside of the common gender binary or feel restricted by gender labels. Sometimes confused with nonbinary.
Lesbian: A woman who is sexually attracted to other women.
Nonbinary: A person who does not exclusively identify themselves with maleness or femaleness. Sometimes confused with genderqueer.
Pansexual: A person who is sexually attracted to others without regard to their gender identity.
Queer: Formerly a derogative term, queer has been reclaimed by the LGBTIA+ community and represents people who are not heterosexual and/or cisgender and have been marginalized for their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Transgender: A person whose biological sex at birth does not align with their gender identity.
Here's our list of great LGBTQIA+ books to pick up.
I Am Jazz
Jazz Jennings is a transgender woman known for being one of youngest transgender activists. Diagnosed with gender dysphoria before age five, her childhood journey through transformation was documented by the media, and she continues to be in the spotlight on with shows on YouTube and TLC, a published memoir, and more. "I Am Jazz," cowritten by Jennings and Jessica Herthel, is based on Jennings’ real-life experiences growing up transgender.
Maiden & Princess
The maiden is made to go to the ball where the princess is looking for a bride. Instead she discovers the princess and they fall in love. A wonderful story of acceptance featuring Black characters.
From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea
A beautiful story about identity, gender, and acceptance, Miu Lan has the power to change who she is into anything they can imagine. But they can’t decide who they want to be. Regardless of the shape they take, their mother’s love remains.
This Day in June
"This Day in June" won the 2015 Stonewall Book Award and was named one of The Advocate’s most important books of the last decade. Featuring multicultural characters, the book invites readers to unite and experience a Pride celebration. It also includes information about how to speak with children about sexual orientation in age-appropriate ways, as well as a guide with facts about the history of the LGBT movement.
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
Jill Twiss, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver comedy writer, released this book in 2018 after Vice President Mike Pence was very vocal about his anti-LGBTQ stance. Marlon Bundo is the Veep’s boy bunny rabbit who falls in love with another boy bunny rabbit. They face obstacles when the stink bug says that boy bunnies can’t marry boy bunnies.
Julian is a Mermaid
Julian spies women spectacularly dressed as mermaids while riding the subway with his abuela one day. From then on, all he can think about is donning his own fabulous mermaid costume - but what will Abuela think?
Red: A Crayon’s Story
A blue crayon is mistakenly labeled as “red.” Because of the packaging, Red’s family and teachers try to help him draw red, but he can only draw blue. This book draws (get it) perfect parallels between people whose gender identity does not match their biological sex at birth and makes it easy to initiate conversations around gender identity.
All Are Welcome
"All Are Welcome" depicts a group of diverse school children, including those with same-sex parents, interracial parents, children with disabilities, and children of different cultures. As one would guess from the title, the book teaches kids that all people are welcome.
Two Moms and a Menagerie
Interracial moms, their adopted children, their expanding animal family, and all of the chaos that goes into having such a full house.
And Tango Makes Three
The true story of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who fall in love at the Central Park Zoo. With the help of a zookeeper, they’re able to adopt a baby and create a happy, nontraditional family.
Have additional book recommendations? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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