The Publishing Post
LGBTQIA+ Pride in Children’s Books
By Annabella Costantino, Lauren Gantt, Aimee Haldron, Michaela O’Callaghan and Rosie Burgoyne
Children need inclusive, educational books that celebrate the beautifully diverse world we live in. As part of this Pride issue, we have highlighted a range of kids’ books – from picture book to young adult – that explore themes around LGBTQIA+ characters in a way that helps normalise these important narratives surrounding families and relationships.
Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love
With ingenuity and acceptance at the centre, Julian at the Wedding is just as charming as Jessica Love’s previous book, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlisted Julian is a Mermaid. This time around, Julian and his nana are at a wedding with his cousin, Marisol, celebrating the love of two women. Julian is back in bright and colourful clothing – gorgeously illustrated on double page spreads. This book’s illustrations are the star of the show and help younger readers to understand that love is love, regardless of gender. The acceptance and freedom Julian discovers once he embraces his true self is a true joy to read.
Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild
Written by Charlotte Sullivan Wild with beautiful pictures by Charlene Chua, Love, Violet is a story of friendship and the courage of sharing your feelings. Violet wants to share her feelings on Valentine’s Day for the one person who makes her heart skip a beat – Mira, the girl with the cheery laugh. But every time she tries to express her feelings, Violet goes shy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, she wants to tell Mira just how special she is. A finalist of the 2022 Lambda Literary Award, this picture book is perfect for teaching kids to share their feelings.
The Secret Sunshine Project by Benjamin Dean
Author of Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow, Benjamin Dean has brought us another joyous read with The Secret Sunshine Project. This heart-warming book tells the story of Bea and her family as they happily attend London’s Pride together. But a year later, Bea’s dad has passed away and everything has changed for them. Without their dad to look after them, Bea and her sister, Riley, have to move away and live with their Gran. Will Bea be able to cheer her family up and re-create Pride in the countryside? In Dean’s wonderful writing style, follow Bea’s journey in a book packed full of courage, kindness and love.
The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan
From Little Island, this is a beautiful story told in verse about a young girl who has started to develop feelings for her friend. A deceptively simple novel at only 180 pages, The Deepest Breath handles mental health issues and discovering your sexuality with real insight and nuance. Stevie is best friends with Andrew, but there is a girl at school who she has started to have very different feelings for. Through the support of a librarian, she begins to discover sapphic stories, understand herself and build up the courage to talk openly to her mum about her feelings. This is a sweet and quiet but impactful story of self-acceptance. Perfect for any young reader starting to reflect upon their own feelings for others.
Afterlove by Tanya Byrne
From award-winning young adult author Tanya Byrne comes Afterlove, a love story strong enough to defy even death. When Ash dies in a car accident, she’s invited to become a reaper and help souls after they die. But she can’t forget her first love, Poppy. With only death keeping them apart, Ash is determined to see Poppy again, even if only for a moment. Afterlove is a heart-warming and beautiful story about the power of love.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
From bestselling author and artist Alice Oseman comes Heartstopper. Now a live-action Netflix series, Heartstopper is a comic and graphic novel series following Nick and Charlie. Charlie, an openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a soft-hearted rugby player meet at school. They quickly become friends… or is it growing into something more? Heartstopper is a heart-warming story about friendship, navigating school, overcoming adversity and exploring sexuality that has been read online over fifty million times.
Double Booked by Lily London
Double Booked follows Georgina as she struggles with accepting her sexuality. Splitting her life into Gina, who is about to marry her long-term boyfriend while teaching piano to children, and George who is about to join a lesbian pop band, Georgina’s life is thrown into chaos. Torn between her safe old life and the potential of her new one, she must decide which side of her is the one she wants to embrace. A story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure, rooting for Georgina all the way.
Representation in children’s books matters - these titles are just a handful of some of the books that children can read to help open up discussions among younger readers about LGBTQIA+ pride. For more book recommendations, please visit the Book Trust website!