Celebrating Pride Month with kids’ books about LGBTQ history and heroes
I’m celebrating Pride by showcasing some new kids’ books about Pride, LGBTQ history, and prominent LGBTQ people. Bring these volumes into your homes and share them with others who may enjoy them, this month and all year ’round!
Two middle-grade books offer a look at LGBTQ history:
A Child’s Introduction to Pride: The Inspirational History and Culture of the LGBTQIA+ Community, by Sarah Prager, illustrated by Caitlin O’Dwyer (Black Dog & Leventhal)
Prager, author of several excellent collective biographies of LGBTQ people, here takes a broader, more systematic approach to LGBTQ history and concepts. Through her usual clear and engaging prose, she gives us her thoughtful takes on LGBTQ achievements, cultures and communities.
The book could either be read right through or happily browsed at random; the layout is bright and engaging, with lots of side boxes containing quotes, questions to ponder, entertaining additional tidbits and a pull-out poster with a timeline of important events. This is bound to be a go-to volume for schools and libraries (or should be, in places that do not ban LGBTQ content) but should find a welcome place on many home bookshelves as well.
Hispanic Star: Sylvia Rivera, by Claudia Romo Edelman and J. Gia Loving, illustrated by Cheyne Gallarde (Roaring Brook Press)
Transgender icon Sylvia Rivera is the focus of this readable and informative biography that looks at her life from her birth to immigrant, migrant parents to her involvement at Stonewall and activism in helping trans youth. Published by the organization Hispanic Star in partnership with Macmillan, and available in English or Spanish editions, this is a welcome middle-grade biography of a figure who has long been due one. Content warning: Mention of domestic violence and her mother’s death by suicide.
Two middle-grade books compile short biographies of renowned LGBTQ people:
Rebel Girls Celebrate Pride: 25 Tales of Self-Love and Community, by Alexis Stratton, Jestine Ware, and Shadae Mallory (Rebel Girls)
This bright and inspiring collection of one-page biographies from the Rebel Girls media company includes not just girls/women, but also nonbinary people. They range from older figures like Marsha Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Billie Jean King, to younger ones such as singer Janelle Monáe, writer Darcie Little Badger and soccer star Quinn, as well as scientists, activists and others who have made an impact on the world but are less widely known.
The book highlights a diverse set of careers and places of impact, with a final section giving readers related activity ideas. Bright illustrations by female and nonbinary artists from around the world add color and interest. A worthy addition to the growing number of LGBTQ-inclusive collective biographies.
Gender Heroes: 25 Amazing Transgender, Non-Binary and Genderqueer Trailblazers from Past and Present! from Jessica Kingsley Publishers, illustrated by Filipa Namorado
This bright and celebratory book profiles 25 transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people from the U.S. and U.K. Within the pages are historical figures like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera as well as actors and entertainers like Laverne Cox, Elliott Page, Chella Man and Alok Vaid-Menon; LGBTQ activists (accidental or intentional) like Gavin Grimm, Freddy McConnell and Jazz Jennings; politicians like Sarah McBride and more.
Two fiction works offer fun stories of Pride and community:
I Got You Babe, by Paul Coccia (Orca) Twelve-year-old Mac — out, proud, and flamboyant — has convinced his school to give the year’s fun fair a Pride theme. He also wants to be the star and persuades his best friend Amy to do a Sonny and Cher drag performance, with him as Cher and her as Sonny. But Mac’s push for perfection also pushes Amy away, until she reveals she doesn’t like Sonny’s less-exciting costumes and really wants to be Cher herself.
Is there room in the show for two divas? Will their friendship survive the strain? And what happens when Mac’s big plans for the show come up against its limited budget?
This is a lighthearted but entertaining tale of friendship, with a queer protagonist fully supported by his family. The book is part of the Orca Currents series, “short, high-interest novels with contemporary themes written specifically for middle-school students reading below grade level.” It might also appeal to slightly younger readers looking for simple chapter books.
Grandad’s Pride, by Harry Woodgate (Little Bee): The follow-up (but stand-alone) volume to the Stonewall Award-winning picture book Grandad’s Camper is as warm and joyous as the first. Young Milly is again visiting Grandad for the summer. When she finds an old rainbow Pride flag in his attic, he explains to her what Pride is, and she motivates him to help her start a Pride parade in his small town. Soon many neighbors are volunteering their time and resources for the event.
A sweet and lovely story about intergenerational wisdom and community spirit. Woodgate’s illustrations are again outstanding — vibrant and cheerful, with lots of little details for readers to discover.
The above books are all new, published this year — but across all years, there are now more than 40 books for kids 0 to 12 years old specifically about Pride, its symbols and the LGBTQ leaders who are part of its history. Visit my Database of LGBTQ Family Books at mombian.com/database and filter by the “Pride” tag to find more. I wish you and your families happy reading and a joyous Pride!
Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian (mombian.com), a two-time GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory, plus a searchable database of 1200+ LGBTQ family books.