I LOVE children’s books! And books for young adults! I feel they are a great learning tool for most things, in that they explain things simply; for example, if I wanted to learn how to play chess, a children’s book would explain it simply, often with pictures, whereas a book for adults would be complicated for a beginner like myself.
There is also the emotional learning that comes from children’s books. We can read stories of people and cultures that are different to our own, or learn more about the experiences of people we know. Reading books helps us become more empathetic.
And, in my work, where I teach workshops to children, young people, and women, I like to be able to share with them the stories I read that are relevant to their situation.
Because of my love for children’s and young adult books (well, books generally, really), I have quite the collection, and, as I am often asked which books I would recommend, I decided to write a blog. Then, as I added each new book I read to the blog, and started to revisit others I already had before I decided to do the blog, the blog itself started becoming full enough to be a book on its own! So, instead, I have decided to break it down into categories, and, as I frequently buy new books, there will probably be several blogs covering each category.
I decided to start with LGBTQ+ books as we’re in Pride month. Children and young people will be seeing more information around and may be asking questions that you may not feel you can answer; or you may want to add more to your answers, and these books can help. Or maybe all of the additional imagery around will be adding to questions they already had.
I will share links to the books so you can click on them straight away if they take your fancy; although I know there are ethical issues with Amazon, and many people choose to not shop with them, I will be using their links, as they are often the cheapest and easiest option for many; they do also have a wider selection of books that some independents don't have the space to stock. I will add here that I will be using affiliate links, so, if you purchase through them, you will be helping me reach more children, young people, and women with every purchase (that will take time, as it’s only pennies for each item, but, as the supermarkets says, every penny counts). Thank you.
I hope the language I use in this blog, in life, is inclusive and correct; I try very hard to use the right language, however I know that language is ever moving and that I might slip up. I am always willing to learn more, so please do let me know.
The first book is one that I could include in every list I write, as it’s so wonderfully diverse and inclusive. An ABC of Equality, written by Chana Ginelle Ewing, and illustrated by Paulina Morgan, is a thick board book aimed at toddlers. I think every human should read this book. It’s a brilliant alphabet book, going from ability to ze, via feminism, gender, oppression, and race! A wonderful book that has a very simple sentence to explain what every word means; a fantastic introduction for everyone, child and adult.
I Am Jazz, written by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas, is a picture book aimed at 4 to 8 year olds. This is a lovely, simple story of how Jazz came to be recognised as she truly is: a girl. A great way to simply explain that not everyone is born into the body they identify with. https://amzn.to/467ngCm
Nothing Ever Happens Here, written by Sarah Hagger-Holt, and aimed at ages 9 to 12, is a lovely fictional story about how a teen girl deals with her dad explaining they are a trans woman. A great story of honesty, family relations, bravery, and understanding. I love how every character is truly themselves, good and bad, because we all have those times when we’re not our best. And I love how accepting in every way this book is. There's a few mentions of musicals, one of my favourite things, so bonus points for that, too. https://amzn.to/467ngCm
My Dad at the End of the Rainbow, written by Benjamin Dean, aimed at ages 9+. I love this story of a boy whose dad comes out as gay. Without wanting to give anything away, I love its acceptance and gentleness, as well as the joy and exuberance. And the imagery the author creates is wonderful. https://amzn.to/42FmPw9
I love Juno Dawson! Over the series of blogs, you will see several of her books. You Need To Chill!, illustrated by Laura Hughes, aimed at ages 4 to 7, is her first picture book, and the first one written for this age range. It’s a wonderful introductory book to a child being transgender and how their sister explains it to her classmates. It’s also great fun to read out loud, getting the listeners to join in with the repeated sentence. https://amzn.to/42LXhxJ
Olly Pike has written some lovely picture books, and I am sure they will be included more than once. The Prince and the Frog, aimed at ages 3 to 6, is a lovely twist on a fairytale, challenging, in a very non-challenging way, gender stereotypes, and demonstrating that consensual love is beautiful, whoever it’s between. https://amzn.to/3XqYWYx
Frockodile, written by Jeanne Willis and Stephanie Laberis, and aimed at ages 3 to 5, is a fun picture book that shows it's best to be ourselves, that we can't always see everything a person is, and that acceptance is wonderful. I love its silliness at times, and I especially love that it does show us that, well, we really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. https://amzn.to/466sRZO
The Woodcutter and the Snow Prince, written by Ian Eagleton, another author that will appear across the blogs, and illustrated by Davide Ortu, aimed at ages 4 to 7, is a beautifully illustrated modern day fairytale, with hope at its very core. I especially love the maps at the beginning and end of the book. A lovely story to break from the heteronormative. https://amzn.to/42ImN6P
Two books now from the great team that are Jodie Lancet-Grant and Lydia Corry (illustrator). First, The Pirate Mums, aimed at ages 3 to 8. I want to listen to this book, with singalong sea shanties, and the sounds of the waves! It’s a fun book about how being different can sometimes be awkward, or embarrassing, and how it can also be wonderful. And The Marvellous Doctors for Magical Creatures, which is a brilliant book showing us that it's okay to be who you really want to be, even if who you really want to be is not what everyone expects you to be. And the illustrations are brilliant! Do take time to look at all of the details in them. https://amzn.to/3NxDbTd and https://amzn.to/42JguzN
The Princess Without a Crown was written by Claire Walsh and illustrated by Jayne Farrer, aimed at ages 3 to 8. This is a story of a princess who loves to do things her way, which isn’t the way princesses are always expected to behave. I really love that part of her self-care includes putting eczema cream on; I love that this normalises something that is so common for so many; and it’s always great to see, as a reader, someone who does something the same as you. Representation matters. There are lots of subtle LGBTQ+ rainbows and references, and a lovely positive ending. I have been given permission to share this, as Claire, the author, is a friend: what I especially love is that this story is based on the author’s daughter and her now wife! That’s beautiful! https://amzn.to/3XfqTlJ
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, written by Sarah S. Brannen and Lucia Soto, aimed at ages 3 to 6. This is a great story for any child who has LGBTQ+ relatives, especially if any of them are getting married, as it shares how, sometimes, our feelings, as completely valid as they are, may not be right. It has beautiful illustrations that feel vibrant and loving. https://amzn.to/3Cw0pmm
I am NOT a prince, written by Rachael Davis and Beatrix Hatcher, aimed at ages 3 to 5. This is a lovely rhyming story about a frog who doesn't want to be kissed to become a prince, like all the other frogs, so goes on a fairy tale quest of bravery and kindness to see who they really are. There's also a page where a bear has their bum stuck, which is likely to cause hilarity in all lovers of toilet humour. https://amzn.to/43VQxhO
This book is utterly joyful! The Hips on the Drag Queen go Swish, Swish, Swish, written by Lil Miss Hot Mess and illustrated by Olga De Dios Ruiz, aimed at ages 4 to 8. This is a retelling of the well-known children’s song, The Wheels on the Bus (I have rewritten it as an affirmation type song to sing in my workshops aimed at pre-schoolers). I love singing, and moving, along to it, and the illustrations are wonderful. This is a great introduction to Drag Queens. https://amzn.to/42KDMVW
Because fifteen books is probably enough to start with, I will finish with the delightful Julian is a Mermaid, written by Jessica Love, and aimed at ages 2 to 6. This is a wonderful book that embodies acceptance in many ways. It’s a delight to read. And the illustrations are so life affirming! This book could also go into the list I am compiling in the Race category, as all of the main characters are Black, which is sadly not too common, especially in children’s books. I have already said that representation matters, and that is not only true for the reader to see people that are like us, but to also see people that may not seem to be like us, to show that the world is made up of so many wonderful people who are all very different, but that we have far more in common than that which makes us different.
Please do let me know if you read any of these books, and what you think of them, and please do recommend any that you have come across, that are inclusive and diverse. I will be doing more blogs where I recommend other LGBTQ+ books, as well as books that are great representations of cultural diversity, racial diversity, disability awareness and diversity, religious diversity, as well as books that are around self-esteem and confidence. Oh! And mindfulness. You could also let me know which list you would like me to write next 🥰.
P.S. As a Community Interest Company, any funds raised enable me to reach more people with my self-esteem and confidence workshops. If you can, your support would be appreciated; you can donate via this link: https://ko-fi.com/vienesscic Or, if you have skills you would like to offer, please do get in touch; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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