LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Picture Books
By Becca Binnie, Carly Bennett and Rhys Wright
Picture books are bright, colourful works of art. They are lovely ways to visually engage readers in the story. We believe it is important that diverse and inclusive picture books exist so that a wider range of readers may see themselves reflected in stories and other readers can learn about an extensive range of experiences and backgrounds. So, we have collected a few LGBTQIA+ inclusive titles which we feel have uplifting and positive representation to enjoy.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold (illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman)
This bright and fun picture book by Alexandra Penfold not only celebrates and supports diversity but is also both educational and representative.
All Are Welcome follows a group of children through their school day as they welcome everyone warmly. Children from a diverse range of religions, abilities, backgrounds and family structures come together to learn from each other as they celebrate Lunar New Year.
This heart-warming book, with inclusive and beautiful illustrations by Suzanne Kaufman, creates a space for all children. It teaches readers that they should be celebrated for being who they are. All Are Welcome is the perfect back-to-school book for every child, promoting the notion that no matter your culture, appearance, family makeup or ability, everyone belongs.
My Shadow is Purple by Scott Stuart
“My Dad has a shadow that’s blue as a berry, and my Mom’s is as pink as a blossoming cherry. There’s only those choices, a 2 or a 1. But mine is quite different, it’s both and it’s none.”
My Shadow is Purple by Scott Stuart is a beautifully inspiring book that rejects gender binaries and encourages being true to oneself. The story follows a young child who is surrounded by gender stereotypes they feel they must conform to. As the story progresses, they explain how these stereotypes are not exclusive. What our character finds most important is how happy they are not restricting themselves to gender binaries.
This story belongs on the bookshelf, with its sweet and inclusive message encouraging readers to follow their hearts and be unapologetically themselves.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman (illustrated by Diana Souza)
Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies was published in 1989, making it one of the first LGBTQIA+ picture books – and certainly the first to gain widespread media attention. The titular Heather’s lesbian parents attracted as much negative attention as positive, and the book has been a staple on banned book lists since its publication.
Telling the story of Heather and her parents (Jane and Kate), readers follow Heather at her playgroup where she learns that, while they may come in many different shapes and forms, all families are special. A sweet, wholesome story about family and kinship, Heather Has Two Mommies is a staple in the LGBTQIA+ picture book canon.
Today, we are lucky to find many picture books with LGBTQIA+ characters and positive representation on the shelves of bookshops and libraries. But there’s always value in looking back at the books that paved the way for the representation we see today, and Heather Has Two Mommies absolutely falls into that category.
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (illustrated by Henry Cole)
And Tango Makes Three takes readers on the adorable story of Roy and Silo, two pair-bonded male penguins who build a family. After being given an egg to look after, the two share responsibilities to help hatch the egg and Tango, a female chick, brings their family unit from two to three. Not only is the story brimming over with heart, but it’s also actually based on the true story of two chinstrap penguins at Central Park Zoo.
And Tango Makes Three is the recipient of numerous awards, winning the ASPCA Henry Bergh Book Award in 2005 (its year of publication) and receiving a nomination for the ALA Notable Children’s Book in 2006. Despite this, it has also attracted calls for censorship and was the American Library Association’s most challenged book from 2006 to 2010.
Whether you’re reading it to a little one or simply wanting to sink into a heart-warming story about two penguins and their chick, this is a sweet story that’s sure to put a smile on your face.
The Frog’s Kiss by James Mayhew and Toto
The Frog’s Kiss is a queer retelling of The Princess and the Frog that proves everyone deserves love, even when it takes a different shape or size than what you’d expect.
Written and illustrated by husband and husband duo James Mayhew and Toto, the story follows a lonely frog who, after reading a book in which a frog kisses a princess, is inspired to find the love of a princess of his own. Instead of a princess, he finds what he’s looking for in an equally lonely prince.
Mayhew, best known for his long-running and best-selling Katie series, has created, in collaboration with Toto, a vibrant and accessible take on the iconic fable. The Frog’s Kiss allows children of all ages and from every type of family to experience a celebration of love and shows that we can all have our own unique happy ending.