With June here, it’s time to remind ourselves of the great pride we take in the diverse tapestry of students and adults that we have in the United States. While the school year may be fading in the rear view mirror, teachers are always looking for great books to share with their own children or for their classroom next year – books that illustrate the inclusive society we strive to be.
ThinkFives believes we must continue to break down the walls of prejudice, divisiveness, and ignorance. A great place to start with is our children.
We have compiled a list of recommended books about family, self-discovery, and inclusion. For a bonus, we have three different lists, one for each of 3 different age groups.
Age 0 to 3
And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kind zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own. It’s a heartwarming true story of penguins who create a nontraditional family.
My Two Moms and Me, Michael Joosten, illustrated by Izak Zenou
Families with same-sex parents are celebrated in this board book that follows busy moms and their kids throughout their day—eating breakfast, going on a playdate, heading to the pool for a swim, and settling back in at night with a bedtime story and a good-night lullaby. Celebrate Pride every day with this adorable board book for the babies and toddlers of lesbian mothers, featuring a variety of diverse, loving families with two moms.
Families, Families, Families!, Suzanne Lang
No matter your size, shape, or pedigree–if you love each other, you are a family! This rhyming picture book celebrates every kind of family: families with lots of kids, only children, families with gay and lesbian parents, single-parent families, and children who live with extended family. But what’s most important is the love that families have for one another.
Heather Has Two Mommies, Lesléa Newman
Written 25 years ago and recently republished with updated text and illustrations, this is a charming story about a little girl, her two moms, and family diversity. It’s surprising to think of the controversy this innocent story caused in 1990 when it was denounced from the senate floor by Jesse Helms.
In Our Mothers’ House, Patricia Polacco
A heartwarming story of unconditional love of family, multiculturalism, and the challenges and discriminations that non-traditional families can face. Marmee and Meema are a lesbian couple raising three adopted children in California. They are a happy family who cooks, dances, laughs, and plays together. But a neighbor refuses to accept them and screams at them in front of the whole neighborhood. The children don’t understand what’s happening and Marmee must explain that some people are scared of things they don’t understand.
Age 4 to 8
Harriet Gets Carried Away, Jessie Sima
From the author and illustrator of the bestselling Not Quite Narwhal comes a sweet and funny story about remembering where you belong, no matter how far you roam, or what you’re wearing when you get there. Harriet loves costumes. She wears them to the dentist, to the supermarket, and most importantly, to her super-special dress-up birthday party. But when Harriet dons her special penguin errand-running costume and sets out to find the perfect ones, she finds something else instead—real penguins!
I Am Jazz, Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
This is the story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere. From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience, and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.
Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, Rob Sanders
An inspiring story that traces the history of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 when activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker first conceived it, to its rise as an international symbol of love, equality, and pride.
The Adventures of Honey & Leon, Alan Cumming, illustrated by Grant Shaffer
Theater and film star Alan Cumming and his husband Grant Shaffer were inspired to chronicle the adventures of their rescue dogs during their dads’ travels. It turns out, Honey and Leon tail their dads and rescue them at every turn. Their adventures continue in the Scotland-based sequel, Honey & Leon Take the High Road.
I Am Billie Jean King, Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
In this illustrated picture book biography, young readers learn about Billie Jean King and her journey to become a world champion tennis player AND a champion for women’s rights. She’s a great role model for girls, those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and anyone who feels like the world doesn’t take them seriously and is out to prove them wrong.
(Ages 5 – 8)
Age 9 to 13
The Whispers, Greg Howard
Eleven-year-old Riley knows a thing or two about wishes. Ever since his mom disappeared, all he’s been doing is wishing: wishing for her return, wishing he’d stop wetting the bed and wishing his dad would love him again. He turns to the Whispers, mythical wood creatures who will grant your heart’s desires if you bring them tribute. Greg Howard stuns in this heartrending, mesmerizing debut about love, magic and what it means to believe in the impossible.
Better Nate Than Ever, Tim Federle
A small-town boy hops a bus to New York City to crash an audition for E.T.: The Musical in this winning middle grade novel. His best friend, Libby, shares his love of theater and the two hatch a plan that will take Nate to New York and back without anyone even knowing he’s gone. But plans often go awry. This wonderful debut novel skillfully addresses big issues concerning family, sexuality, and religion.
Zenobia July, Lisa Bunker
Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she’s coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school’s website, Zenobia knows she’s the one with the abilities to solve the mystery. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.
Hot Dog Girl, Jennifer Dugan
In this quirky and queer rom-com novel set in an amusement park, Lou falls head over heels for Nick the Diving Pirate. Too bad Nick has a girlfriend who is the princess of the park and Lou is, well, a giant dancing hot dog. Things get messy when Lou concocts a scheme to break up the couple, dragging her best friend Seely down with her.
A High Five For Glenn Burke, Phil Bildner
Most peple don’t know the history or professional baseball’s first sort-of out gay player, nor did do they now he invented the high five but this wonderful middle grade novel about coming out, and playing baseball tells the story of Glenn Burke. This book is for kids who love sports books, kids who love history, and anyone who has ever worried about coming into their own as their full self and finding acceptance and community”
Do you have a book you would recommend for Pride Month?