LGBTQ+ inclusive books for children and young people
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LGBTQ+ inclusive books for children and young people

Browse our list of LGBTQ+ inclusive books

Welcome to the Stonewall Book List for schools, colleges, parents, and carers. We’ve hand-selected a wide range of LGBTQ-inclusive books for children and young people to enjoy. Since we first released our book lists, there has been enormous growth in LGBTQ-inclusive children’s and young adult literature.

We hope you and the children in your life enjoy the books from this list. As with any resources for children and young people, do make sure you check them first to make sure they suit you and your children's needs.

Because our dedicated Education and Youth team take the time to review each book that we include on our list, it’s not possible to include every single LGBTQ-inclusive book. We are, however, constantly reviewing new books and updating the list. A book not appearing on the list doesn't necessarily mean we wouldn't recommend it – we just might not have read it yet!

If you’ve read a fantastic LGBTQ-inclusive book for children and/or young people that you haven’t seen on the list, let us know by emailing education@stonewall.org.uk.

 

Age 2-4

Celebrating difference

Aaaarrgghh! Spider!

by Lydia Monks, published by Egmont Books (UK), ISBN 1405210443

All Spider wants is to be a family pet. But the family whose house he lives in are terrified of him. Whenever he tries to show them what a great pet he would make, they simply cry, “Aaaarrgghh! Spider!”. A tale with themes of tolerance and misunderstanding.

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

Giraffes Can’t Dance

by Giles Andreae, published by Orchard Books, ISBN 0439287197

Gerald the giraffe longs to dance, but his legs are too skinny and his neck is too long. At the Jungle Dance, the warthogs waltz, the chimps cha-cha, and the lions tango. ‘Giraffes can’t dance’,  they jeer when it’s Gerald’s turn to prance. But with some sound advice from a wise cricket, Gerald starts swaying to his own sweet tune.

 

Llama Glamarama

by Simon James Green and Garry Parsons, published by Scholastic, ISBN 1407197037

Larry is a fabulous llama with a secret. When he finds another community of animals just like him, will he find the courage to let his family know that he’s a dancer?

 

Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell

by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK, ISBN 1847389767

Norman the slug desperately wants to be a snail – and he goes to astonishing lengths to look for the right shell! In the end, with the support of his friends, he finds his own way to stand out and join in.

 

Peanut Goes for the Gold

by Jonathan Van Ness and Gillian Reid, published by HarperCollins, ISBN 0062941003

Peanut the guinea pig is absolutely fantastic at gymnastics. They might not go about things in the same way that others might, but that doesn’t stop them from being a success.

Other themes: trans representation

 

Perfectly Norman

by by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, ISBN 9781408880975

When Norman grows wings, he’s afraid that other people will find out. However, hiding his wings becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Eventually Norman stops hiding his wings and finds that people accept him regardless.

 

Something Else

by Kathryn Cave, published by Mondo Publishing, ISBN 1572555637

Something Else tries to be like everyone else. But everything he does shows how different he is. Then one night, something shows up. Has Something Else finally met someone just like himself?

 

The Other Ark

by Lynley Dodd, published by Puffin, ISBN 0141500182

The rain is fast approaching, and Noah wants to set sail. There are still lots of animals queueing to get on to the Ark but it’s absolutely jam packed. Noah has to ask his friend, Sam Jam Balu to take the other Ark and all the rest of the animals. So, he valiantly starts gathering hip-hopping hippos, mad kangaroosters and flying flapdoodles – not to mention the dithering dingbats and sabretooth mice! But no sooner has Sam Jam Balu finished his task than the Other Ark is well and truly grounded. Come along with Noah and Sam Jam Balu as they try to figure their problem out!

 

Tyrannosaurus Drip

by Julia Donaldson, published by MacMillan UK, ISBN 1405090006

Everyone knows that tyrannosauruses are big and scary, so when a placid duckbill dinosaur’s egg ends up in the wrong nest, confusion is sure to ensue! When the baby dinosaur hatches out, he’s so out of place that his grisly big sisters call him Tyrannosaurus Drip. Poor little Drip: all he wants is a quiet life munching on water weed. 

 

Welcome to Lizard Lounge

by Laura Hambleton, published by Milet Publishing, ISBN 1840593903

Lizard thinks all lizards are the same until he arrives at Lizard Lounge and meets new reptile friends with different names and qualities – Gecko, Iguana, Gila Monster, Salamander, and Komodo Dragon. Come along with them as together they discover what makes them special.

 

Challenging gender stereotypes

Baking with Dad

by Aurora Cacciapuoti, published by Child's Play, ISBN 1846437547

The child in this picture book has a great time baking with their dad. This simple story will be a great addition to your library.

Other themes: different families

 

Jacob’s New Dress

by Sarah Hoffman and Ian Hoffman, published by Albert Whitman & Company, ISBN 0807563730

Jacob loves playing dress-up, so that he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear ‘girl’ clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants?

 

Julián Is a Mermaid

by Jessica Love, published by Candlewick, ISBN 9780763690458

Julián sees three women dressed as beautiful mermaids on the subway and decides he wants to be a mermaid himself. Julián worries his Nana will be angry when she sees his beautiful new outfit, but instead she takes Julián to see many other mermaids, all dressed up and beautiful and loving themselves. This book is a hymn to celebrating creativity, individuality and intergenerational love.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Super Duper You

by Sophie Henn, published by Puffin ISBN 0141385480

This fun book is a celebration of all the things that make a person who they are. A great book to use when beginning conversations about challenging gender stereotypes and celebrating difference.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

The Paper Bag Princess

by Robert Munsch, published by Annick Press, ISBN 0920236162

The Princess Elizabeth is slated to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps Ronald. In resourceful and humorous fashion, Elizabeth finds the dragon, outsmarts him, and rescues Ronald, who is less than pleased at her un-princess-like appearance.

 

The Sissy Duckling

by Harvey Fierstein, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ISBN 1416903135

Let’s just say that Elmer’s not your run-of-the-mill duck. He likes to decorate cookies, enjoys building sand-castles instead of forts, and would rather put on puppet shows than play sports. Being different is fine for sweet Elmer; he’s as happy as a duck in water doing everything he loves.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Tough Chicks

by Cece Meng, published by Clarion Books, ISBN 0618824154

From the moment Penny, Polly, and Molly hatch from their eggs, the whole farm knows they are truly tough chicks. They wrestle worms, rope roosters, and are often found under the bonnet of the tractor. All the other animals – and even the farmer himself – tell Mama Hen to make her chicks good. ‘They are good!’, Mama Hen replies. But could her chicks be too loud, too independent, and too tough?

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Tough Guys Have Feelings Too

by Keith Negley

An eye-catching picture book with one clear message: everybody has feelings. A great book to help children challenge gender stereotypes.

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

Coping with change

Truelove

by Babette Cole, published by Red Fox, ISBN 0099433052

Truelove is a dog who has had his wet, loveable nose put out of joint by the arrival of a new baby in the house. He tries his best to attract his owners’ attention, but finally gives up and leaves home. Soon, he falls into bad company and is forced to return shamefaced. His family’s delighted to see him – and his slightly dodgy new friends, of course. 

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

Different families

ABC, a Family Alphabet Book

by Bobbie Combs, published by Two Lives Publishing, ISBN 0967446813

Learn the alphabet while having fun with the kids, mums, dads and pets in this delightful book that celebrates LGBTQ+ families.

 

And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0689878451

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. Follow along as two male penguins, based on a true story from the Central Park Zoo, become partners and raise a penguin chick together.

 

Dad David, Baba Chris and Me

by Ed Merchant, published by British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), ISBN 1905664893

Seven-year-old Ben leads a pretty ordinary life, living with the two dads who adopted him. But he also gets bullied at school because he has two dads. Follow along as Ben confronts the emotional turmoil associated with his fear of rejection and concern for his birth parents, but ultimately discovers that two fathers are able to love the same way a mum and dad would.

Other themes: Adoption, coping with change, gay representation

 

Daddy, Papa, and Me

by Lesléa Newman, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582462623

A toddler is spending the day with their daddies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together. Feel the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children in this rhythmic illustrated story.

Other themes: Gay representation

 

Donovan’s Big Day

by Lesléa Newman and Mike Dutton, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582463328

Donovan is getting ready for a special event. His family help him to get up and dressed in his smart suit, ready for it all to start. He has an extra special responsibility – he’s carrying the ring for his mums’ wedding. This book is great to read with younger children when learning about celebrations and weddings.

Other themes: Lesbian visibility

 

Heather Has Two Mummies

by Lesléa Newman and Laura Cornell, published by Walker Books, ISBN 1406365556

Heather worries that her family is unusual, but soon discovers that the only thing families have in common is that they are all different. This book first came out in the late eighties and is thought to be the first lesbian-themed children's book published.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Hello, Sailor

by Ingrid Godon, published by Macmillan UK, ISBN 0333992903

Matt lives in a lighthouse. He watches the sea every day for ships and for his friend, Sailor. Rose and Felix say Sailor is never coming back, but Matt won’t give up hope. Surely Sailor will come back for Matt’s birthday? Follow along with this gentle story of hope, friendship, and same-sex relationships, complemented by Ingrid Godon’s subtle illustrations.

Other themes: Relationships, gay representation

 

I Am Living in 2 Homes (I Am Book)

by Garcelle Beauvais, published by Stranger Kids, ISBN B00JKGDP98

Jay and Nia are the children of two worlds and two homes. Follow the twins from I Am Mixed as they address the difficulties of having parents who are no longer together and discover the benefits of having two very different homes to explore and enjoy.

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

If I Had a Hundred Mummies

by Vanda Carter, published by Onlywomen Press, ISBN 0906500915

A little girl imagines what it would be like to have 100 mummies, eventually deciding that she is happy with just the two she’s got.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

King and King

by Stern Nijland and Linda de Haan, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582460612

Once, there lived a lovelorn prince whose mother decreed that he must marry by the end of the summer. So began the search to find the prince’s perfect match, and lo and behold, his name was Lee. You are cordially invited to join the merriest, most unexpected wedding of the year, as King and King find true love and live happily ever after.

Other themes: Gay representation

 

Love Makes a Family

by Sophie Beer, published by Caterpillar Books, ISBN 1838910670

Families come in all shapes and sizes, but something they all have in common is love. Love Makes a Family is full of beautiful illustrations representing a wide range of families.

 

Mister Seahorse

by Eric Carle, published by Puffin, ISBN 0140569898

Come along with Mister Seahorse in this stunning picture book from Eric Carle, as he meets Mr Stickleback, Mr Tilapia, Mr Kurtus and many other fish fathers, who were hiding behind rocks and reeds, and caring for their eggs and babies in the most surprising ways.

Other themes: Trans inclusion

 

Mommy, Mama, and Me

by Lesléa Newman, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582462631

A toddler is spending the day with their mommies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together. Feel the giddiness of Mommy on the merry-go-round or the whoosh of Mama and the child as they shoot down the slide in this rhythmic illustrated story that shares the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Our Twitchy

by Kes Gray, published by Henry Holt and Co., ISBN 0805074546

Twitchy and his parents live in a burrow and munch on carrots, just like any bunny family. But when Twitchy wonders why he doesn’t look like his parents, the answer surprises him – he’s adopted! How can the three of them truly be a family if they’re not really the same? With lots of love (and plenty of carrots) Twitchy’s parents show him that they are indeed a family after all.

Other themes: Emotional literacy, adoption

 

Picnic in the Park

by Joe Griffiths, published by British Association for Adoption & Fostering, ISBN 1905664087

Join Jason at his birthday picnic, as he meets a range of family structures, including two and one parent families; adoptive and foster families; LGBTQ+ families; stepfamilies; and more!

Other themes: Adoption

 

Plenty of Hugs

by Fran Manushkin, published by Dial Books, ISBN 0525554017

A child goes on a fun day out with their mums. Their day is full of adventure and, of course, plenty of hugs!

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Stella Brings the Family

by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown, published by Chronicle Books, ISBN 1452111901

Stella is worried because she doesn’t have a mum to bring to the Mother’s Day party. However, she ends up bringing her dads and lots of other special people too! A fantastic book for younger children.

Other themes: Gay representation

 

The Family Book

by Todd Parr, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0316155632

Whether you have two mothers or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, be assured that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way. Come along as we celebrate the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in.

 

The Great Big Book of Families

by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith, published by Lincoln Children's Books, ISBN 1847805876

Families come in all shapes and sizes, live in different places and have different circumstances and interests. This beautiful book helps children to understand and celebrate that.

 

Two Dads: A book about adoption

by Carolyn Robertson and Sophie Humphreys, published by Sparklypoo Publications, IBSN 0993115306

A child talks about their relationship with their two dads, who adopted them as a baby. This is a lovely book that can be used to introduce younger children to the concept of adoption.

Other themes: Adoption, gay representation

 

Two Mums and a Menagerie

by Carolyn Robertson and Patricia deVilliers, published by Sparklypoo Publications, IBSN 0993115314

After two mums adopt their children, they are soon convinced to look after lots and lots of animals. They get so many animals that they end up going to live on a farm. A lovely book for younger children.

Other themes: Adoption, lesbian representation

 

We Are Family

by Patricia Hegerty and Ryan Wheatcroft, published by Tiger Tales, ISBN 9781680100549

A lovely book looking at lots of different families and what they all have in common – love, care and support.

 

Worm Loves Worm

by J.J. Austrian, published by Balzer + Bray, ISBN 0062386336

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm and a worm. When a worm meets a special worm, and they fall in love, you know what happens next – they get married! But their friends want to know: Who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux? The answer is that it doesn’t matter. Because Worm loves Worm.

Other themes: Relationships

 

Emotional literacy

Cock-A-Moo-Moo

by Juliet Dallas-Conte, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0316605050

Poor Rooster has forgotten how to crow. Cock-a-moo-moo? Cock-a-oink-oink? Rooster can’t seem to get it right. When all the other animals make fun of him, Rooster loses hope. Will he ever remember how roosters crow? One night, a surprise visitor arrives – it’s Fox. Find out whether Rooster can save the day and remember what to say!

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Emma and Meesha My Boy: A Two Mom Story

by Kaitlyn Taylor Considine, published by TWOMOMBOOKS.com ISBN 1413416004

Emma is a little girl with two mums, who is learning how to be nice to her cat. Follow along as Emma gets in trouble trying to play with Meesha Kitty, and cheer as she learns to treat him with care.

Other themes: Different families, lesbian representation

 

Frog in Love

by Max Velthuijs, published by Henry Holt, ISBN 0805076549

Frog is worried because his heart is beating too fast  – could he be in love? But who is he in love with? Join Frog as he finds ways to express his love in different ways! 

Other themes: Different families, emotional literacy

 

Spacegirl Pukes

by Katy Watson, published by Onlywomen Press, ISBN 0906500877

Young Spacegirl is especially lucky to have two mothers and a very curious cat nearby when rocket troubles and nausea begin.

Other themes: Different families, lesbian representation

 

This Is Our House

by Michael Rosen, published by Walker, ISBN 1406305642

George says the cardboard house is his and that no one else can play with it. But when some of George’s friends give him a taste of his own medicine and claim the house as theirs, he has to agree that it should be for everyone to play with.

Other themes: Friendship

 

Under the Love Umbrella

by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, published by Scribble UK, ISBN 1925228975

A beautifully illustrated book all about love and the wonderful support that family members provide for children.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Friendship

Friends

by Kathryn Cave, published by Hodder Children’s Books, ISBN 034065600X

Come along on this journey of friendship through the woods and the darkness – both of which are less scary with a friend by your side. A tale about the importance of being there for one another through good times and bad. 

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Jack & Jim

by Kitty Crowther, published by Disney-Hyperion, ISBN 0786806141

When Jack, a blackbird, ventures out of the woods to see the ocean for the first time, he meets Jim, a gregarious seagull. They fly together all day and become fast friends. But when they visit Jim’s village, their fun ends. The other seagulls don’t like Jack because he looks different.

Then Jim discovers that Jack can do something no other seagull can – he can read! It is the strength of Jim and Jack’s friendship – and the remarkable power of story – that eventually opens the minds and changes the hearts of the village seagulls.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Trans inclusion

10,000 Dresses

by Marcus Ewert and Rex Ray, published by Seven Stories Press, ISBN 1583228500

Every night, Bailey dreamed of dresses. Thousands of beautiful dresses! Bailey’s parents wouldn’t let her get a dress of her own – they told her boys don’t wear dresses. Eventually Bailey finds a friend who helps her to make a dress of her own.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?

by Sarah Savage and Fox Fisher, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 178592267X

When Tiny starts a new school, the other children keep asking whether they are a boy or a girl. The other children eventually come to realise that it doesn’t matter what gender Tiny is. What matters is that Tiny is themselves.

Other themes: Challenging gender stereotypes, celebrating difference

 

I Am Jazz

by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, published by Dial Books, ISBN 0803741073

Jazz was born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. This confuses her family until they go to see a doctor, who tells them that Jazz was transgender and that she had been born that way.

 

Red: A Crayon’s Story

by Michael Hall, published by GreenWilBk, ISBN 9780062252074

Although Red was given a red label, Red is actually blue. However hard he tries, Red can’t be anything apart from blue.

A lovely book that can be a great starting point for talking about trans people and how it might feel to be trans.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Age 5-7

Celebrating difference

Aaaarrgghh! Spider!

by Lydia Monks, published by Egmont Books (UK), ISBN 1405210443

All Spider wants is to be a family pet. But the family whose house he lives in are terrified of him. Whenever he tries to show them what a great pet he would make, they simply cry, “Aaaarrgghh! Spider!”. A tale with themes of tolerance and misunderstanding.

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

An ABC of Equality

by Chana Ginelle Ewing and Paulina Morgan, published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books, ISBN 1786037416

An ABC of Equality is a great introduction to the concept of equality and of different aspects relating to it. It will help children to understand that we’re all different, we’re all worth celebrating, and we all deserve to be treated fairly.

 

Free to Be...You and Me

by Marlo Thomas, published by Running Press, ISBN 0762413069

Celebrate diversity, challenge stereotypes, and feel encouraged to be yourself in a joyful, positive manner, through a collection of songs, poems, and stories to be read aloud and shared with new generations.

 

Giraffes Can’t Dance

by Giles Andreae, published by Orchard Books, ISBN 0439287197

Gerald the giraffe longs to dance, but his legs are too skinny and his neck is too long. At the Jungle Dance, the warthogs waltz, the chimps cha-cha, and the lions tango. ‘Giraffes can’t dance’,  they jeer when it’s Gerald’s turn to prance. But with some sound advice from a wise cricket, Gerald starts swaying to his own sweet tune.

 

Kenny Lives with Erica and Martina

by Olly Pike, published by Oliver Pike, ISBN 0993340776

When some new people move into Kenny's neighbourhood, they immediately stand out. They're colourful in a land of black and white. Others (including Kenny's mums) are initially unkind, but eventually come to realise their mistake.

Other themes: Different families, lesbian representation

 

Llama Glamarama

by Simon James Green and Garry Parsons, published by Scholastic, ISBN 1407197037

Larry is a fabulous llama with a secret. When he finds another community of animals just like him, will he find the courage to let his family know that he’s a dancer?

 

My Footprints

by Bao Phi and Basia Tran, published by Raintree, ISBN 1474762433

After a young girl is teased for being different, she discusses it with her mums. They help her to understand difference, linking the discussion to their heritage and traditional mythology.

Other themes: Different families, challenging gender stereotypes, lesbian representation

 

Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell

by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK, ISBN 1847389767

Norman the slug desperately wants to be a snail – and he goes to astonishing lengths to look for the right shell! In the end, with the support of his friends, he finds his own way to stand out and join in.

 

Peanut Goes for the Gold

by Jonathan Van Ness and Gillian Reid, published by HarperCollins, ISBN 0062941003

Peanut the guinea pig is absolutely fantastic at gymnastics. They might not go about things in the same way that others might, but that doesn’t stop them from being a success.

Other themes: trans representation

 

Perfectly Norman

by by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, ISBN 9781408880975

When Norman grows wings, he’s afraid that other people will find out. However, hiding his wings becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Eventually Norman stops hiding his wings and finds that people accept him regardless.

 

Something Else

by Kathryn Cave, published by Mondo Publishing, ISBN 1572555637

Something Else tries to be like everyone else. But everything he does shows how different he is. Then one night, something shows up. Has Something Else finally met someone just like himself?

 

The Different Dragon

by Jennifer Bryan, published by Two Lives Publishing, ISBN 0967446864

Noah is being read a bedtime story when he meets a dragon who’s trying to fit in with his friends and those around him. Follow along as Noah convinces the dragon that being different or unique is ok, and there will always be people out there that like you for who you are.

 

The Other Ark

by Lynley Dodd, published by Puffin, ISBN 0141500182

The rain is fast approaching, and Noah wants to set sail. There are still lots of animals queueing to get on to the Ark but it’s absolutely jam packed. Noah has to ask his friend, Sam Jam Balu to take the other Ark and all the rest of the animals. So, he valiantly starts gathering hip-hopping hippos, mad kangaroosters and flying flapdoodles – not to mention the dithering dingbats and sabretooth mice! But no sooner has Sam Jam Balu finished his task than the Other Ark is well and truly grounded. Come along with Noah and Sam Jam Balu as they try to figure their problem out!

 

Tyrannosaurus Drip

by Julia Donaldson, published by MacMillan UK, ISBN 1405090006

Everyone knows that tyrannosauruses are big and scary, so when a placid duckbill dinosaur’s egg ends up in the wrong nest, confusion is sure to ensue! When the baby dinosaur hatches out, he’s so out of place that his grisly big sisters call him Tyrannosaurus Drip. Poor little Drip: all he wants is a quiet life munching on water weed. 

 

Welcome to Lizard Lounge

by Laura Hambleton, published by Milet Publishing, ISBN 1840593903

Lizard thinks all lizards are the same until he arrives at Lizard Lounge and meets new reptile friends with different names and qualities – Gecko, Iguana, Gila Monster, Salamander, and Komodo Dragon. Come along with them as together they discover what makes them special.

 

Challenging gender stereotypes

Baking with Dad

by Aurora Cacciapuoti, published by Child's Play, ISBN 1846437547

The child in this picture book has a great time baking with their dad. This simple story will be a great addition to your library.

Other themes: different families

 

Jacob’s New Dress

by Sarah Hoffman and Ian Hoffman, published by Albert Whitman & Company, ISBN 0807563730

Jacob loves playing dress-up, so that he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear ‘girl’ clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants?

 

Julián Is a Mermaid

by Jessica Love, published by Candlewick, ISBN 9780763690458

Julián sees three women dressed as beautiful mermaids on the subway and decides he wants to be a mermaid himself. Julián worries his Nana will be angry when she sees his beautiful new outfit, but instead she takes Julián to see many other mermaids, all dressed up and beautiful and loving themselves. This book is a hymn to celebrating creativity, individuality and intergenerational love.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Jump

by Michelle Magorian, published by Walker Books Ltd, ISBN 0744589614

Every Saturday, Steven watches his sister at her ballet class – jumping and dancing – and he longs to join in. But his mother says that real boys don’t dance; they play games like basketball. However, there’s one skill that you need for both ballet and basketball and, fortunately for Steven, it’s the thing that he loves doing best.

 

Oliver Button Is a Sissy

by Tomie dePaola, published by HMH Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0156681404

Oliver Button is confident about being himself, even though he’s teased for being a ‘sissy’ because he likes dancing rather than sports. At the end, it’s not Oliver that changes but his family and the people around him.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Super Duper You

by Sophie Henn, published by Puffin ISBN 0141385480

This fun book is a celebration of all the things that make a person who they are. A great book to use when beginning conversations about challenging gender stereotypes and celebrating difference.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

The Paper Bag Princess

by Robert Munsch, published by Annick Press, ISBN 0920236162

The Princess Elizabeth is slated to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps Ronald. In resourceful and humorous fashion, Elizabeth finds the dragon, outsmarts him, and rescues Ronald, who is less than pleased at her un-princess-like appearance.

 

The Princesses Have a Ball

by Teresa Bateman, published by Albert Whitman & Company, ISBN 0807566284

Despite the king's concern that his daughters aren't spending enough time thinking about the princes they will one day wed, the little princesses aren't concerned as a helpful cobbler, pairs of perfect shoes, and a special ball begin to aim things in the right direction. Follow along as the princesses wear out their shoes every night not by dancing, but by playing basketball! 

 

The Queen Engineer

by Suzanne Hemming and Jacquie Hughes, published by Thea Chops Books, ISBN 0995725926

When Flo the princess grows up, she is expected to get married, be a queen and be a mum. But she wants to be an engineer. After a small accident, her dad comes round to the idea.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

The Sissy Duckling

by Harvey Fierstein, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ISBN 1416903135

Let’s just say that Elmer’s not your run-of-the-mill duck. He likes to decorate cookies, enjoys building sand-castles instead of forts, and would rather put on puppet shows than play sports. Being different is fine for sweet Elmer; he’s as happy as a duck in water doing everything he loves.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Tough Chicks

by Cece Meng, published by Clarion Books, ISBN 0618824154

From the moment Penny, Polly, and Molly hatch from their eggs, the whole farm knows they are truly tough chicks. They wrestle worms, rope roosters, and are often found under the bonnet of the tractor. All the other animals – and even the farmer himself – tell Mama Hen to make her chicks good. ‘They are good!’, Mama Hen replies. But could her chicks be too loud, too independent, and too tough?

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Tough Guys Have Feelings Too

by Keith Negley

An eye-catching picture book with one clear message: everybody has feelings. A great book to help children challenge gender stereotypes.

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

Coping with change

A Plan for Pops

by Heather Smith, published by Orca Book Publishers, ISBN 1459816145

Lou spends every weekend with Grandad and Pops. One day, Pops has an accident which means that he needs to use a wheelchair. Pops is very upset, but Grandad and Lou make a plan to help him.

Other themes: Different families, family, gay representation

 

Tadpole’s Promise

by Jeanne Willis, published by Atheneum Books, ISBN 0689865244

Where the willow tree meets the water, a tadpole met a caterpillar. They gazed into each other’s tiny eyes and fell in love. ‘I love everything about you’” said the caterpillar. ‘Promise you’ll never change.’ And foolishly the tadpole promised... But we all know that tadpoles don’t stay the same, and neither do caterpillars. Will they still be able to love each other?

Other themes: Emotional literacy, relationships

 

Truelove

by Babette Cole, published by Red Fox, ISBN 0099433052

Truelove is a dog who has had his wet, loveable nose put out of joint by the arrival of a new baby in the house. He tries his best to attract his owners’ attention, but finally gives up and leaves home. Soon, he falls into bad company and is forced to return shamefaced. His family’s  delighted to see him – and his slightly dodgy new friends, of course. 

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

Different families

ABC, a Family Alphabet Book

by Bobbie Combs, published by Two Lives Publishing, ISBN 0967446813

Learn the alphabet while having fun with the kids, mums, dads and pets in this delightful book that celebrates LGBTQ+ families.

 

And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0689878451

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. Follow along as two male penguins, based on a true story from the Central Park Zoo, become partners and raise a penguin chick together.

 

Dad David, Baba Chris and Me

by Ed Merchant, published by British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), ISBN 1905664893

Seven-year-old Ben leads a pretty ordinary life, living with the two dads who adopted him. But he also gets bullied at school because he has two dads. Follow along as Ben confronts the emotional turmoil associated with his fear of rejection and concern for his birth parents, but ultimately discovers that two fathers are able to love the same way a mum and dad would.

Other themes: Adoption, coping with change, gay representation

 

Daddy, Papa, and Me

by Lesléa Newman, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582462623

A toddler is spending the day with their daddies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together. Feel the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children in this rhythmic illustrated story.

Other themes: Gay representation

 

King and King

by Stern Nijland and Linda de Haan, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582460612

Once, there lived a lovelorn prince whose mother decreed that he must marry by the end of the summer. So began the search to find the prince’s perfect match, and lo and behold, his name was Lee. You are cordially invited to join the merriest, most unexpected wedding of the year, as King and King find true love and live happily ever after.

Other themes: Gay representation

 

Donovan’s Big Day

by Lesléa Newman and Mike Dutton, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582463328

Donovan is getting ready for a special event. His family help him to get up and dressed in his smart suit, ready for it all to start. He has an extra special responsibility – he’s carrying the ring for his mums’ wedding. This book is great to read with younger children when learning about celebrations and weddings.

Other themes: Lesbian visibility

 

Heather Has Two Mummies

by Lesléa Newman and Laura Cornell, published by Walker Books, ISBN 1406365556

Heather worries that her family is unusual, but soon discovers that the only thing families have in common is that they are all different. This book first came out in the late eighties and is thought to be the first lesbian-themed children's book published.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Hello, Sailor

by Ingrid Godon, published by Macmillan UK, ISBN 0333992903

Matt lives in a lighthouse. He watches the sea every day for ships and for his friend, Sailor. Rose and Felix say Sailor is never coming back, but Matt won’t give up hope. Surely Sailor will come back for Matt’s birthday? Follow along with this gentle story of hope, friendship, and same-sex relationships, complemented by Ingrid Godon’s subtle illustrations.

Other themes: Relationships, gay representation

 

If I Had a Hundred Mummies

by Vanda Carter, published by Onlywomen Press, ISBN 0906500915

A little girl imagines what it would be like to have 100 mummies, eventually deciding that she is happy with just the two she’s got.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

I Am Living in 2 Homes (I Am Book)

by Garcelle Beauvais, published by Stranger Kids, ISBN B00JKGDP98

Jay and Nia are the children of two worlds and two homes. Follow the twins from I Am Mixed as they address the difficulties of having parents who are no longer together and discover the benefits of having two very different homes to explore and enjoy.

Other themes: Emotional literacy

 

Love Makes a Family

by Sophie Beer, published by Caterpillar Books, ISBN 1838910670

Families come in all shapes and sizes, but something they all have in common is love. Love Makes a Family is full of beautiful illustrations representing a wide range of families.

 

Mister Seahorse

by Eric Carle, published by Puffin, ISBN 0140569898

Come along with Mister Seahorse in this stunning picture book from Eric Carle, as he meets Mr Stickleback, Mr Tilapia, Mr Kurtus and many other fish fathers, who were hiding behind rocks and reeds, and caring for their eggs and babies in the most surprising ways.

Other themes: Trans inclusion

 

Mommy, Mama, and Me

by Lesléa Newman, published by Tricycle Press, ISBN 1582462631

A toddler is spending the day with their mommies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together. Feel the giddiness of Mommy on the merry-go-round or the whoosh of Mama and the child as they shoot down the slide in this rhythmic illustrated story that shares the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Mummy Never Told Me

by Babette Cole, published by Red Fox, ISBN 0099407132

What are tummy buttons for, and how do they get there? What does the tooth fairy really look like? Why do grown-ups have hair in their ears and up their noses, but sometimes none on their heads? Why do Mummy and Daddy lock you out of their bedroom, and where do they go at night? Explore these questions and many more through Babette Cole’s wonderfully sharp text and riotously funny illustrations.

Other themes: Relationships

 

My Maddy

by Gayle E. Pitman and Violet Tobacco, published by Magination Press

A story about a child’s relationship with their Maddy. This book will help children to understand that some people are not a man or a woman, and that’s OK.

Other themes: trans inclusion

 

Pearl Power and The Girl with Two Dads

by Mel Elliott, published by I Love Mel, ISBN 1527266729

Pearl goes for tea at her new classmate’s house. She’s excited because her new friend has two dads, but is in for a disappointment when they’re no more fun than any other parents!

Other themes: gay representation

 

Picnic in the Park

by Joe Griffiths, published by British Association for Adoption & Fostering, ISBN 1905664087

Join Jason at his birthday picnic, as he meets a range of family structures, including two and one parent families; adoptive and foster families; LGBTQ+ families; stepfamilies; and more!

Other themes: Adoption

 

Plenty of Hugs

by Fran Manushkin, published by Dial Books, ISBN 0525554017

A child goes on a fun day out with their mums. Their day is full of adventure and, of course, plenty of hugs!

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

She’s My Dad

by Sarah Savage and Joules Garcia, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 1785926152

A wonderful book about a child’s relationship with their dad, who is a trans woman. The explanation of what ‘trans’ means is clear, simple and great for younger children.

Other themes: trans representation

 

Stella Brings the Family

by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown, published by Chronicle Books, ISBN 1452111901

Stella is worried because she doesn’t have a mum to bring to the Mother’s Day party. However, she ends up bringing her dads and lots of other special people too! A fantastic book for younger children.

Other themes: Gay representation

 

The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans

by Johnny Valentine, published by Alyson Books, ISBN 1555831990

In one story the Frog Prince leaves his mean parents to live with his rescuer, Nicholas. In another, a Duke states that all families must have one mother and one father, to which the children in the land mock the silly law and get it taken away. Come along in this series of fairy tales that depict diverse families through fun and engaging stories.

Other themes: Relationships, gay representation

 

The Family Book

by Todd Parr, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0316155632

Whether you have two mothers or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, be assured that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way. Come along as we celebrate the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in.

 

The Great Big Book of Families

by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith, published by Lincoln Children's Books, ISBN 1847805876

Families come in all shapes and sizes, live in different places and have different circumstances and interests. This beautiful book helps children to understand and celebrate that.

 

The Pirate Mums

by Jodie Lancet-Grant and Lydia Corry, published by OUP Oxford, IBSN 0192777793

Billy's family is different to the families of other children in his class – not only does he have two mums, but both of them are pirates! He's embarrassed by the way his mums dress, the way they sing sea shanties when his friends come over, and the way they talk like sea-faring pirates.

Through the story, Billy learns that the things that make his family different are also the things that make them special.

Other themes: Celebrating difference, lesbian representation

 

Two Dads: A book about adoption

by Carolyn Robertson and Sophie Humphreys, published by Sparklypoo Publications, IBSN 0993115306

A child talks about their relationship with their two dads, who adopted them as a baby. This is a lovely book that can be used to introduce younger children to the concept of adoption.

Other themes: Adoption, gay representation

 

Two Mums and a Menagerie

by Carolyn Robertson and Patricia deVilliers, published by Sparklypoo Publications, IBSN 0993115314

After two mums adopt their children, they are soon convinced to look after lots and lots of animals. They get so many animals that they end up going to live on a farm. A lovely book for younger children.

Other themes: Adoption, lesbian representation

 

We Are Family

by Patricia Hegerty and Ryan Wheatcroft, published by Tiger Tales, ISBN 9781680100549

A lovely book looking at lots of different families and what they all have in common – love, care and support.

 

What Makes a Baby

by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, published by Seven Stories Press, ISBN 1609804856

A psychedelic gender-neutral delight! This beautiful picture book brilliantly unpacks the ways that babies come to be, answering all the usual questions. It also gives equal weight to different types of conception, making it inclusive and diverse.

 

Worm Loves Worm

by J.J. Austrian, published by Balzer + Bray, ISBN 0062386336

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm and a worm. When a worm meets a special worm, and they fall in love, you know what happens next – they get married! But their friends want to know: Who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux? The answer is that it doesn’t matter. Because Worm loves Worm.

Other themes: Relationships

 

Emotional literacy

Claydon Was a Clingy Child

by Cressida Cowell, published by Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0340757248

Claydon goes everywhere with his mother: skydiving, skateboarding, skiing, and more. He thinks it is safer but one day he decides that maybe, just maybe, life might be better not clinging to his mother’s leg. Join Claydon as he explores his growing sense of independence in this delightful, hilarious, yet sympathetic book.

 

Cock-A-Moo-Moo

by Juliet Dallas-Conte, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0316605050

Poor Rooster has forgotten how to crow. Cock-a-moo-moo? Cock-a-oink-oink? Rooster can’t seem to get it right. When all the other animals make fun of him, Rooster loses hope. Will he ever remember how roosters crow? One night, a surprise visitor arrives – it’s Fox. Find out whether Rooster can save the day and remember what to say!

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Emma and Meesha My Boy: A Two Mom Story

by Kaitlyn Taylor Considine, published by TWOMOMBOOKS.com ISBN 1413416004

Emma is a little girl with two mums, who is learning how to be nice to her cat. Follow along as Emma gets in trouble trying to play with Meesha Kitty, and cheer as she learns to treat him with care.

Other themes: Different families, lesbian representation

 

Frog in Love

by Max Velthuijs, published by Henry Holt ISBN 0805076549

Frog is worried because his heart is beating too fast  – could he be in love? But who is he in love with? Join Frog as he finds ways to express his love in different ways! /p>

Other themes: Different families, relationships

 

Jennifer Jones Won’t Leave Me Alone

by Frieda Wishinsky, published by Lerner Publishing Group, ISBN 0876149212

Jennifer Jones is in love and she doesn’t care who knows it. But the object of her affection sure does. He’s embarrassed by the love poems, the terms of endearment, the cute little red heart stickers, and especially the laughter and snickers from his classmates. He wishes that Jennifer Jones would just move away, and one day, she does. There are no more sickening stickers, no more silly poems, and no more fun. Does he miss Jennifer Jones now?

Other themes: Relationships

 

Spacegirl Pukes

by Katy Watson, published by Onlywomen Press, ISBN 0906500877

Young Spacegirl is especially lucky to have two mothers and a very curious cat nearby when rocket troubles and nausea begin.

Other themes: Different families, lesbian representation

 

This Is Our House

by Michael Rosen, p

George says the cardboard house is his and that no one else can play with it. But when some of George’s friends give him a taste of his own medicine and claim the house as theirs, he has to agree that it should be for everyone to play with.

Other themes: Friendship

 

Under the Love Umbrella

by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, published by Scribble UK, ISBN 1925228975

A beautifully illustrated book all about love and the wonderful support that family members provide for children.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Friendship

Friends

by Kathryn Cave, published by Hodder Children’s Books, ISBN 034065600X

Come along on this journey of friendship through the woods and the darkness – both of which are less scary with a friend by your side. A tale about the importance of being there for one another through good times and bad. 

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Jack & Jim

by Kitty Crowther, published by Disney-Hyperion, ISBN 0786806141

When Jack, a blackbird, ventures out of the woods to see the ocean for the first time, he meets Jim, a gregarious seagull. They fly together all day and become fast friends. But when they visit Jim’s village, their fun ends. The other seagulls don’t like Jack because he looks different.

Then Jim discovers that Jack can do something no other seagull can – he can read! It is the strength of Jim and Jack’s friendship – and the remarkable power of story – that eventually opens the minds and changes the hearts of the village seagulls.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

The Girls

by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie, published by Caterpillar Books, ISBN 1848578431

A lovely book about a group of girls growing into women. While they all change with time, their friendships remain constant.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Trans inclusion

10,000 Dresses

by Marcus Ewert and Rex Ray, published by Seven Stories Press, ISBN 1583228500

Every night, Bailey dreamed of dresses. Thousands of beautiful dresses! Bailey’s parents wouldn’t let her get a dress of her own – they told her boys don’t wear dresses. Eventually Bailey finds a friend who helps her to make a dress of her own.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?

by Sarah Savage and Fox Fisher, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 178592267X

When Tiny starts a new school, the other children keep asking whether they are a boy or a girl. The other children eventually come to realise that it doesn’t matter what gender Tiny is. What matters is that Tiny is themselves.

Other themes: Challenging gender stereotypes, celebrating difference

 

Be Who You Are

by Jennifer Carr, published by Authorhouse, ISBN 1452087253

Hope was given the label of ‘boy’ when she was born but has always felt like a girl inside. Hope’s parents find a group for families like theirs. Join Hope as, with their support, she expresses a desire to be addressed as ‘she’, and then to be named ‘Hope’. 

 

I Am Jazz

by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, published by Dial Books, ISBN 0803741073

Jazz was born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. This confuses her family until they go to see a doctor, who tells them that Jazz was transgender and that she had been born that way.

 

Red: A Crayon’s Story

by Michael Hall, published by GreenWilBk, ISBN 9780062252074

Although Red was given a red label, Red is actually blue. However hard he tries, Red can’t be anything apart from blue.

A lovely book that can be a great starting point for talking about trans people and how it might feel to be trans.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Colour Who Made LGBTQ+ History

by Joy Ellison and Teshika Silver, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 1787755304

This fantastic book which explains who Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were and how they had a positive impact on the lives of others.

Other themes: LGBTQ+ history

 

When Aiden Became a Brother

by Kyle Lukoff, published by Lee & Low Books, ISBN 1620148374

When Aiden comes out as trans, he finds love and acceptance from his family. Upon discovering that his mum is pregnant, Aiden sets out to make sure the baby will be supported to be themselves too.

Other themes: family, celebrating difference

 

When Kayla Was Kyle

by Amy Fabrikant, published by Avid Readers Publishing Group, ISBN 1612861547

Kyle doesn’t understand why the other kids at school call them names. They look like other boys, but doesn’t feel like them. Can Kyle find the words to share their feelings about gender, and can Kyle’s parents help them?

 

Who Are You? A Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity

by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 1785927280

This beautifully illustrated book offers a clear, child-friendly explanation of what gender identity is. The main message is simple: ‘be who you are’.

Other themes: Celebrating difference, challenging gender stereotypes

 

Age 8-11

Celebrating difference

Free to Be...You and Me

by Marlo Thomas, published by Running Press, ISBN 0762413069

Celebrate diversity, challenge stereotypes, and feel encouraged to be yourself in a joyful, positive manner, through a collection of songs, poems, and stories to be read aloud and shared with new generations.

 

Kenny Lives with Erica and Martina

by Olly Pike, published by Oliver Pike, ISBN 0993340776

When some new people move into Kenny's neighbourhood, they immediately stand out. They're colourful in a land of black and white. Others (including Kenny's mums) are initially unkind, but eventually come to realise their mistake.

Other themes: Different families, lesbian representation

 

Llama Glamarama

by Simon James Green and Garry Parsons, published by Scholastic, ISBN 1407197037

Larry is a fabulous llama with a secret. When he finds another community of animals just like him, will he find the courage to let his family know that he’s a dancer?

 

My Footprints

by Bao Phi and Basia Tran, published by Raintree, ISBN 1474762433

After a young girl is teased for being different, she discusses it with her mums. They help her to understand difference, linking the discussion to their heritage and traditional mythology.

Other themes: Different families, challenging gender stereotypes, lesbian representation

 

Perfectly Norman

by by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, ISBN 9781408880975

When Norman grows wings, he’s afraid that other people will find out. However, hiding his wings becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Eventually Norman stops hiding his wings and finds that people accept him regardless.

 

Princess Princess Ever After

by K O’Neill, published by Oni Press, ISBN 1620103400

After a princess rescues another princess from a tower, they go on an adventure. The comic book style story addresses the impact of others’ expectations, gender stereotypes and self-actualisation.

Other themes: Challenging gender stereotypes, emotional literacy, graphic novel, lesbian representation

 

Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different

by Ben Brooks, published by Quercus, ISBN 9781787471986

A book packed full of biographies of men and boys from different walks of life and with different identities. Some are very famous, some less so. All are inspirational.

Other themes: Trans representation, gay representation

 

The Manny Files

by Christian Burch, published by Aladdin, ISBN 1416955348

The young boy in this story has a new nanny who’s a man – a manny. A lovely story of acceptance building up to a big reveal at the end when the boy realises that his manny and Uncle Max are dating. This is a fabulous, inclusive book that’s perfect children from eight years and above.

Other themes: Family, challenging gender stereotypes, gay representation

 

Challenging gender stereotypes

Better Nate Than Never

by Tim Federle, published by Walker Books, ISBN 9781406361539

When 13-year-old Nate sneaks off to New York to audition for the musical of his dreams, it doesn’t quite go to plan. Young readers won’t want to put this book down.

Content note: This book makes reference to alcohol addiction and contains homophobic slurs in a bullying context.

Other themes: Gay/bi representation

 

Bill’s New Frock

by Anne Fine, published by Egmont Books Ltd, ISBN 140520060X

One morning, almost as if in a dream, Billy wakes up to find that he has turned into a girl. His mother casually dresses him in a pink dress and sends him off to school, where he realises how differently girls are treated.

 

Lumberjanes 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters and Brooke Allen, published by Boom Entertainment, ISBN 1608866874

Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-types is not your average summer camp and the Lumberjanes are not your average campers. Will they discover the mystery behind those robotic foxes in the woods? There’s only one way to find out!

Other themes: Graphic novel

 

Oliver Button Is a Sissy

by Tomie dePaola, published by HMH Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0156681404

Oliver Button is confident about being himself, even though he’s teased for being a ‘sissy’ because he likes dancing rather than sports. At the end, it’s not Oliver that changes but his family and the people around him.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

The Princesses Have a Ball

by Teresa Bateman, published by Albert Whitman & Company, ISBN 0807566284

Despite the king's concern that his daughters aren't spending enough time thinking about the princes they will one day wed, the little princesses aren't concerned as a helpful cobbler, pairs of perfect shoes, and a special ball begin to aim things in the right direction. Follow along as the princesses wear out their shoes every night not by dancing, but by playing basketball! 

 

The Queen Engineer

by Suzanne Hemming and Jacquie Hughes, published by Thea Chops Books, ISBN 0995725926

When Flo the princess grows up, she is expected to get married, be a queen and be a mum. But she wants to be an engineer. After a small accident, her dad comes round to the idea.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Coping with change

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy

by Bre Indigo and Rey Terceiro, published by Little, Brown Young Readers US

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy is a modern retelling of Little Women, set in New York City. This graphic novel includes a few departures from the original story, including Jo coming out as gay. It also handles issues including being a mixed-race family and dealing with cancer.

Other themes: Family, relationships, graphic novel, lesbian representation

 

Different families

My Maddy

by Gayle E. Pitman and Violet Tobacco, published by Magination Press

A story about a child’s relationship with their Maddy. This book will help children to understand that some people are not a man or a woman, and that’s OK.

Other themes: trans inclusion

 

Pearl Power and The Girl with Two Dads

by Mel Elliott, published by I Love Mel, ISBN 1527266729

Pearl goes for tea at her new classmate’s house. She’s excited because her new friend has two dads, but is in for a disappointment when they’re no more fun than any other parents!

Other themes: gay representation

 

The Best Man

by Richard Peck, published by Puffin Books, IBSN 0147515793

A wonderful story about growing up. As Archer grows from 4 to 13, so do his relationships with his family. The book starts with one wedding and ends with another, the second one between his Uncle Paul and Ed.

Other themes: Relationships, coming of age, family, gay representation

 

She’s My Dad

by Sarah Savage and Joules Garcia, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 1785926152

A wonderful book about a child’s relationship with their dad, who is a trans woman. The explanation of what ‘trans’ means is clear, simple and great for younger children.

Other themes: trans representation

 

Emotional literacy

Fearless Fairy Tales

by Konnie Huq and James Kay, published by Piccadilly Press, ISBN 1848128118

A book of fairy tales for the modern age. They’re funny, and inclusive, tackling topics including gender stereotypes, racism, greed and fake news, all in an LGBTQ-inclusive manner.

Other themes: Challenging gender stereotypes, celebrating difference

 

Friendship

Death in the Spotlight: A ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ mystery

by Robin Stevens, published by Puffin, ISBN 0141373822

Two schoolgirls continue their adventures as detectives, solving the case of a double murder at the Rue Theatre.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World

by Ashley Herring Blake, published by Little, Brown Young Readers US, ISBN 0316515477

When a tornado sweeps through Ivy’s town, it doesn’t just take her home – it takes her secret notebook too. A secret notebook filled with drawings of her holding hands with other girls. Will the notebook reappear, or will it be lost forever?

Other themes: Family, coping with change, lesbian/bi representation

 

Rick

by Alex Gino, published by Scholastic, ISBN 9780702301827

We follow Rick as he starts middle school, gets a bit wiser and starts to learn the difference between good friends and bad friends. During this time, he also realises there’s a name for people that aren’t attracted to people of any gender. With the help of his new friends, he comes to accept his asexuality.

Other themes: Family, ace representation

 

The Girls

by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie, published by Caterpillar Books, ISBN 1848578431

A lovely book about a group of girls growing into women. While they all change with time, their friendships remain constant.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Trans inclusion

Be Who You Are

by Jennifer Carr, published by Authorhouse, ISBN 1452087253

Hope was given the label of ‘boy’ when she was born but has always felt like a girl inside. Hope’s parents find a group for families like theirs. Join Hope as, with their support, she expresses a desire to be addressed as ‘she’, and then to be named ‘Hope’. 

 

George

by Alex Gino, published by Scholastic USA, IBSN 0545812577

George is a 10-year-old with a secret. The secret is that she’s a girl. A lovely book about a trans girl growing in confidence.

 

Gracefully Grayson

by Ami Polonsky, published by Disney-Hyperion, IBSN 1484723651

Gracefully Grayson is a heart-warming story about a young trans girl overcoming her fears and stepping out of the shadows.

 

I Am Jazz

by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, published by Dial Books, ISBN 0803741073

Jazz was born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. This confuses her family until they go to see a doctor, who tells them that Jazz was transgender and that she had been born that way.

 

Red: A Crayon’s Story

by Michael Hall, published by GreenWilBk, ISBN 9780062252074

Although Red was given a red label, Red is actually blue. However hard he tries, Red can’t be anything apart from blue.

A lovely book that can be a great starting point for talking about trans people and how it might feel to be trans.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Colour Who Made LGBTQ+ History

by Joy Ellison and Teshika Silver, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 1787755304

This fantastic book which explains who Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were and how they had a positive impact on the lives of others.

Other themes: LGBTQ+ history

 

When Aiden Became a Brother

by Kyle Lukoff, published by Lee & Low Books, ISBN 1620148374

When Aiden comes out as trans, he finds love and acceptance from his family. Upon discovering that his mum is pregnant, Aiden sets out to make sure the baby will be supported to be themselves too.

Other themes: family, celebrating difference

 

When Kayla Was Kyle

by Amy Fabrikant, published by Avid Readers Publishing Group, ISBN 1612861547

Kyle doesn’t understand why the other kids at school call them names. They look like other boys, but doesn’t feel like them. Can Kyle find the words to share their feelings about gender, and can Kyle’s parents help them?

 

Who Are You? A Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity

by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 1785927280

This beautifully illustrated book offers a clear, child-friendly explanation of what gender identity is. The main message is simple: ‘be who you are’.

Other themes: Celebrating difference, challenging gender stereotypes

 

Age 12-14

Celebrating difference

Colour Outside the Lines: Stories about Love

by Sangu Mandanna, Published by Soho Press, ISBN 1641290463

A wonderful, positive anthology of stories about race, gender, sexuality, and love that celebrates the beauty of difference. Portraying teen protagonists ‘of all colours’ in multicultural and LGBTQ+ relationships, standing up for their beliefs, for each other and for themselves.

This book will be an inspiration for teens struggling with labels and bigotry, as the characters gather the strength to express their beliefs in defence of their identities. It is a call to arms for celebrating beautiful and complex identities.

Other themes: Friendship, relationships

 

Moonstruck, Vol 1: Magic to Brew

by Grace Ellis, published by Image Comics, ISBN 1534304770

When Julie and Selena go on a disastrous date, a spell is cast, placing a curse on their friend. The search for a solution tests their nerve as well as their relationships. A theme of embracing who you are, rather than trying to fit in, runs through this graphic novel.

Other themes: Friendship, relationships, coming of age, emotional literacy, graphic novel, lesbian representation

 

Challenging gender stereotypes

Lumberjanes 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters and Brooke Allen, published by Boom Entertainment, ISBN 1608866874

Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-types is not your average summer camp and the Lumberjanes are not your average campers. Will they discover the mystery behind those robotic foxes in the woods? There’s only one way to find out!

Other themes: Graphic novel

 

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

by Liz Prince, published by Zest Books, ISBN 1936976552

Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't interested in dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighbourhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys, either. She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, ‘the middle’ wasn’t exactly an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores – with humour, honesty, and poignancy – what it means to ‘be a girl’.

Other themes: Coming of age, graphic novel

 

Coming of age

Drama

by Rana Telgemeier, published by Scholastic, ISBN 0545326990

When Callie gets involved in the high school production, there’s even more drama than she might have anticipated. Putting on a play is not straightforward – and neither is friendship when you develop feelings for one of your friends. With not one but two twists to this tale, it’ll have teenagers reading to the very end.

Other themes: Relationships, graphic novel, gay representation

 

Heartstopper Volume 1

by Alice Oseman, published by Hodder Children's Books, ISBN 1444951386

When Charlie and Nick meet at school, it seems like they couldn’t possibly be any different from each other. However, they find themselves increasingly drawn to each other. Heartstopper is an LGBTQ+ coming-of-age story in graphic novel form.

Other themes: Relationships, graphic novel, gay representation, representation

 

Leah on the Offbeat

by Becky Albertalli, published by Penguin, ISBN 9780241331057

Set in the same world as Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this book focusses on Simon’s friend Leah. Follow Leah as she explores her bi identity, navigates changing friendships and plans her big move to college.

Other themes: Bi representation

 

Two Boys Kissing

by David Levithan, published by Knopf Books, ISBN 0307931900

Two 17-year-old boys, Harry and Craig, decide to take part in a 32-hour kissing marathon to set a new Guinness World Record. The boys’ kissing becomes a focal point to explore the lives, loves and struggles of a long-time couple, a broken-up couple, a new couple, and a boy searching to be part of a couple. Based on true events.

Other themes: Relationships, gay representation

 

Coping with change

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy

by Bre Indigo and Rey Terceiro, published by Little, Brown Young Readers US

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy is a modern retelling of Little Women, set in New York City. This graphic novel includes a few departures from the original story, including Jo coming out as gay. It also handles issues including being a mixed-race family and dealing with cancer.

Other themes: Family, relationships, graphic novel, lesbian representation

 

My Brother’s Husband

by Gengoroh Tagame, published by Blackfriars, ISBN 034913457X

When his husband dies, Mike goes to visit his twin brother and niece in Japan. It takes a while for his brother-in-law to adjust, but they develop a friendship. A fantastic graphic novel for teenagers.

Content note: This book focuses on the theme of bereavement.

Other themes: Relationships, friendship, family, graphic novel, gay represenation

 

Nothing Ever Happens Here

by Sarah Hagger-Holt, published by Usborne Publishing, ISBN 1474966233

When Izzy’s dad comes out as trans, it takes her a while to get used to it. And while there are ups and downs in their friendship, Izzy’s friend Grace turns out to be an excellent source of support.

Other themes: friendship, family, trans representation

 

Emotional literacy

The Fascinators

by Andrew Eliopulos, published by QuilTreeBk, IBSN 0062888048

Sam is turning 18, openly gay and living in a small town. The book follows him as he navigates relationships, friendships and planning for his future. However, Sam and his friends are not ordinary teenagers – they’re ‘magickers’, dedicated to cultivating their magical powers.

When one of Sam’s friends steals a spell book from a mysterious group, the friends find themselves caught up in a terrifying plot with far-reaching consequences.

Content note: This book includes references to abuse.

Other themes: Coming of age, relationships, friendship, gay representation

 

Family

See you at Harry’s

by Jo Knowles, published by Walker Books, IBSN 1406346071

After a bereavement, a family find it hard to adjust. Meanwhile, one family member is also in the process of coming out as gay. A book about growing up and coping with change and loss.

Content note: This book deals with the theme of bereavement.

Other themes: Coming of age, relationships, friendship, emotional literacy, gay representation

 

Strange Boy

by Paul Magrs, published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0689836570

David’s an outsider. He’s smart, sensitive – and convinced he has secret superpowers. Life for him and his brother is a constant whirl of would-be stepfamilies, and overbearing friends and relations. And even aged ten, he’s not sure what he thinks about fancying girls when 14-year-old John down the road seems so much more interesting.

Other themes: Relationships, friendship, coping with change, gay representation

 

What’s up with Jody Barton?

by Hayley Long, published by Macmillan Children’s Books, ISBN 9781447267829

16-year-olds Jody and Jolene are identical twin sisters living above their parents’ diner London. When a new boy, Liam, comes to the diner, both Jody and Jolene fall for him. Jody decides not to tell her sister, but instead help her sister move forward with Liam all whilst hiding a big secret. Through this complicated love triangle, Long explores sexuality, cyberbullying and gender.

Other themes: relationships, bi representation

 

Friendship

Death in the Spotlight: A ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ mystery

by Robin Stevens, published by Puffin, ISBN 0141373822

Two schoolgirls continue their adventures as detectives, solving the case of a double murder at the Rue Theatre.

Other themes: Lesbian representation

 

Last Bus to Everland

by Sophie Cameron, published by Macmillan Children's Books, ISBN 1509853189

Brody Fair has always felt like an outsider. Brody knows he's gay, but can't tell anyone – not even his best friend, Megan. When he meets Nico, Zahra and Kasia and finds the magical world of Everland, he's swept away into a world of romance, magic and new friendship. But Everland isn't all it seems – and Brody has to face the fact that he might not be able to hide behind the magic forever.

Other themes: Family, relationships, coming of age, gay representation

 

Rick

by Alex Gino, published by Scholastic, ISBN 9780702301827

We follow Rick as he starts middle school, gets a bit wiser and starts to learn the difference between good friends and bad friends. During this time, he also realises there’s a name for people that aren’t attracted to people of any gender. With the help of his new friends, he comes to accept his asexuality.

Other themes: Family, ace representation

 

Relationships

Boy Meets Boy

by David Levithan, published by Knopf Books, ISBN 0375832998

Follow the story of Paul and his best friends Joni and Tony – who has an uncommonly strict religious background – through their romantic high school experiences, set in a fictional gay friendly small town in New Jersey, USA.

Other themes: Friendship, coming of age, gay representation

 

Girl2girl – The Lives of Young Lesbian and Bisexual Women

by Norrina Rashid and Jane Hoy (editors), published by DIVA, ISBN 187374145-6

A book written by and for LGBTQ+ young women questioning their sexuality. Their voices resonate through poems, autobiographies, jokes, messages and advice to each other. Young women from 14 to 21 tell it like it is as they struggle to discover themselves and find a way to live openly in a homophobic, biphobic and transphobic world. There are also contributions from parents and important advice for teachers, plus a helpful resource list of support groups and organisations in the UK and North America.

Other themes: Coming of age, lesbian representation, bi representation

 

Totally Joe

by James Howe, published by Atheneum, ISBN 0-689-83957-X

Joe is a 12-year-old who has always known who he is. He tells all about his secret boyfriend and non-conforming fashion choices in his homework assignment. But what if it falls into the wrong hands?

Other themes: Coming of age, gay representation

 

You Should See Me in a Crown

by Leah Johnson, published by Scholastic, ISBN 0702304328

Liz is a reluctant candidate for prom queen, but she needs the scholarship that comes with the title. The story follows the lead-up to prom, with love and heartbreak along the way.

Other themes: Coming of age, friendship, lesbian representation

 

Trans inclusion

Alex As Well

by Alyssa Brugman, published by Text Publishing, ISBN 1922079235

Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or. When she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex – the boy Alex – has a lot to say about that. Follow along as Alex explores gender and sexuality, navigating friendships, and finding a place to belong.

Other themes: Coping with change

 

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, published by Flux, ISBN 0738732516

Running his own radio show creates a space for Gabe to be himself. However, as the show gains in popularity, will people find out that he’s trans before he’s ready for them to?

 

George

by Alex Gino, published by Scholastic USA, IBSN 0545812577

George is a 10-year-old with a secret. The secret is that she’s a girl. A lovely book about a trans girl growing in confidence.

 

Parrotfish

by Ellen Wittlinger, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ISBN 1416916229

Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl, so coming out as a boy called Grady feels right him. However, he isn't prepared for the reaction he gets from everyone else. Grady’s life is miserable until he finds friends in some unexpected places – like the school geek, Sebastian and Kita, a senior who might just be Grady’s first love.

Other themes: Family, friendship, relationships

 

The Art of Being Normal

by Lisa Williamson, published by David Fickling Books, ISBN:1910200328

Two young people. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. Only David’s two best friends know the real truth – David is a girl.

On the first day at his new school, Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

Other themes: Relationships, friendships

 

Age 15+

Challenging gender stereotypes

Mooncakes

by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu, published by Lion Forge, ISBN 154930304X

Mooncakes is a truly magical graphic novel which revolves around Nova (a witch who lives with her grandmothers) and Tam (a werewolf). There's a mysterious demon to be battled, but Nova and Tam still find time to fall in love along the way.

Other themes: Family, relationships, graphic novel, disability representation, representation of LGBTQ+ People of Colour, lesbian representation, trans representation

 

One in every crowd

by Ivan E. Coyote, published by Arsenal Pulp Press, ISBN 1551524597

Ivan had a tomboy youth and an adult life with experiences of cruelty and kindness in unexpected places. Funny, inspiring, and full of heart, come along with this story of embracing and celebrating difference and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin, written for anyone who has ever felt different or alone in their struggles to be true to themselves.

Other themes: Celebrating difference

 

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

by Liz Prince, published by Zest Books, ISBN 1936976552

Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't interested in dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighbourhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys, either. She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, ‘the middle’ wasn’t exactly an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores – with humour, honesty, and poignancy – what it means to ‘be a girl’.

Other themes: Coming of age, graphic novel

 

Coming of age

The Black Flamingo

by Dean Atta and Anishika Khullar, published by Hodder Children’s Books, ISBN 14449486-1

A beautiful book centring the experience of a young, mixed-race gay man as he grows up. Through Michael’s life and story, the reader is encouraged to reflect on feelings of difference and discomfort, and the journey it takes to become comfortable within yourself.

Other themes: Gay representation

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky, published by MTV Books/Pocket Books, ISBN 0-671-02734-4

Charlie often writes letters to an unknown recipient, but despite him being a shy ‘wallflower’, he is befriended by high school seniors Patrick and his stepsister Sam. Follow Charlie’s coming-of-age high school journey, which includes his love for Sam; Patrick and closeted footballer Brad’s relationship; and Charlie dealing with traumatic experiences from his past.

Other themes: Friendship, relationships, gay representation

 

Two Boys Kissing

by David Levithan, published by Knopf Books, ISBN 0307931900

Two 17-year-old boys, Harry and Craig, decide to take part in a 32-hour kissing marathon to set a new Guinness World Record. The boys’ kissing becomes a focal point to explore the lives, loves and struggles of a long-time couple, a broken-up couple, a new couple, and a boy searching to be part of a couple. Based on true events.

Other themes: Relationships, gay representation

 

Openly Straight

by Bill Konigsberg, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, ISBN 0-54550989-0

Rafe is already out and has been for a while, but he’s fed up of always being labelled as ‘the gay guy’. So, when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school miles away from home, he decides to reinvent himself and keep his sexuality a secret. Come along with this interesting, emotional, funny (very funny!) story of personal reflection, special friendships and first love.

Other themes: Relationships, gay representation

 

Coping with change

Love in Revolution

by B. R. Collins, published by Bloomsbury Children’s, ISBN 1-40881570-2

Follow fifteen-year-old Esteya, a doctor’s daughter, in an imagery Basque country on the cusp of a communist revolution. Following a chance encounter at a pello match, she falls in love with Skizi, a girl shunned by society because of her peasant, Zikindi class. When her parents and twin brother are forcibly taken away by the Revolutionary guard in the middle of the night, Esteya is left alone with no choice but to flee the country, not knowing if she will ever see her family or Skizi again.

Other themes: Relationships, family, lesbian representation

 

Emotional literacy

I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

by Kai Cheng Thom, published by Arsenal Pulp Press, ISBN 1551527758

A series of essays and poems on activism, community, and embracing an ethics of love.

I Hope We Choose Love proposes solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, family, vengeance, and forgiveness. It is a call for nuance in a time of political polarisation..

Content note: This book deals with themes of prejudice and abuse.

Other themes: Trans representation, celebrating difference

 

The Fascinators

by Andrew Eliopulos, published by QuilTreeBk, IBSN 0062888048

Sam is turning 18, openly gay and living in a small town. The book follows him as he navigates relationships, friendships and planning for his future. However, Sam and his friends are not ordinary teenagers – they’re ‘magickers’, dedicated to cultivating their magical powers.

When one of Sam’s friends steals a spell book from a mysterious group, the friends find themselves caught up in a terrifying plot with far-reaching consequences.

Content note: This book includes references to abuse.

Other themes: Coming of age, relationships, friendship, gay representation

 

Family

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, published by Simon and Schuster Books, ISBN 1442408928

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. While at first it appears they have nothing in common, the boys discover common ground and develop a friendship that will change their lives.

Other themes: Friendship, coming of age, gay representation

 

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by Tennessee Williams, published by Signet, ISBN 0451171128, 9780451171122

Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play has captured both stage and film audiences since its debut in 1954. One of his best-loved and most famous plays, it exposes the lies plaguing the family of a wealthy Southern planter of humble origins.

Content note: This book contains themes relating to addiction.

Other themes: Relationships, mental health, gay representation

 

The Love and Lies of Rukshana Ali

by Sabina Khan, published by Scholastic, ISBN 1407194577

Rukshana is a 17-year-old lesbian with a secret girlfriend. When her family finds out, they take her from her home in the US to Bangladesh and start the hunt for a husband. Rukshana avoids marriage by running away from her family and returning to her girlfriend in the US. However, a dramatic turn of events causes her family to re-evaluate their behaviour.

Content note: This book contains themes of forced marriage and conversion therapy.

Other themes: Relationships, friends, coping with change, lesbian representation, gay representation, Asian representation

 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

by Emily Danforth, published by Balzer and Bray, ISBN 0062020560

Just moments before both her parents were killed in a car crash, Cameron Post had been kissing a girl. Part of Cameron is relieved that they will never discover her sexuality, but this relief is short lived as she moves in with her conservative Aunt and old-fashioned Grandmother in Miles City, Montana. Then the beautiful and perfect cowgirl, Coley Taylor, comes to town along with her boyfriend, and Cam and Coley form an unexpected and intense friendship. As their relationship shows signs of developing further, Cam’s Aunt begins to take drastic action in the name of ‘fixing’ Cameron who has to address the cost of her denial.

Content note: This book deals with themes of conversion therapy and bereavement

Other themes: Coping with change, relationships, lesbian representation

 

What’s up with Jody Barton?

by Hayley Long, published by Macmillan Children’s Books, ISBN 9781447267829

16-year-olds Jody and Jolene are identical twin sisters living above their parents’ diner London. When a new boy, Liam, comes to the diner, both Jody and Jolene fall for him. Jody decides not to tell her sister, but instead help her sister move forward with Liam all whilst hiding a big secret. Through this complicated love triangle, Long explores sexuality, cyberbullying and gender.

Other themes: relationships, bi representation

 

Friendship

Between You and Me

by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin, published by Atria Books, ISBN 1439188181

27-year-old Logan Wade takes a trip to LA to visit her famous cousin Kelsey Wade, who she hasn’t seen since they were both children. Kelsey offers Logan the role of her assistant, and Logan rediscovers the toxic relationship between Kelsey and her parents. Kelsey attempts to break away from the fame, and Logan is torn between protecting Kelsey and saving herself. Explore the peaks and falls of stardom and the difficult family relationships that often go with it.

Other themes: Family

 

Otherbound

by Corinne Duyvis, published by Amulet Books

Set partly in our world and partly in a magical world, Otherbound is a story about magic, friendship, love and finding yourself. An enjoyable read for over 14s.

Other themes: relationships, coming of age

 

Out of the Pocket

by Bill Konigsberg, published by Dutton Juvenile, ISBN 0525479961

Bobby Framingham is the star quarterback and one of the most talented high school football players in California. Bobby shares a typically strong brotherly bond with his fellow teammates but he’s keeping one essential difference about him from them: he’s gay. Bobby’s worried about still being able to be one of the guys if he is open and honest about his sexuality. A student reporter then outs Bobby against his will, meaning Bobby must find a way to gain back his teammates’ trust and accept his success path may now look somewhat different to his peers’.

Other themes: Coming of age, relationships, gay representation

 

Proxy

by Alex London, published by Philomel, ISBN 0399257764

Set in a futuristic world after the collapse of society, this science fiction novel tells the story of Knox, a ‘patron’ boy from one of the wealthiest families in the 1% that make up the Upper City, and his proxy Syd, a poor orphan living below in the debt-ridden Valve. When children from the Upper City break the law, they watch the punishment being carried out on their proxy, whom they have never met. From practical jokes to murder, Knox pushes the system of Proxy to the limit.

But it turns out that Knox and Syd share lots in common and, realising that to beat the system they must save one another, they decide to flee.

Other themes: Coming of age, gay representation

 

Mental health

This Song Will Save Your Life

by Leila Sales, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), ISBN 0374351384

Elise Dembowski is a typical teenager who feels like she doesn’t quite fit in. Unusually for Elise, one day she finds herself at a warehouse party where she meets three girls who share her love for music and new-found love for DJing. Many will find a connection with Elise’s story of a teenager whose hobby becomes her life and vehicle for self-exploration.

Content note: This book contains references to self-harm.

Other themes: Friendship, coming of age, lesbian representation

 

Relationships

Almost Perfect

by Brian Katcher, published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0385736649

Logan Witherspoon befriends Sage Hendricks at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. As time goes on, he finds himself drawn to Sage. Eventually, Logan’s feelings for Sage grow so strong that he can’t resist kissing her. When Logan discovers Sage’s secret, it drives a wedge in their relationship.

Other themes: Emotional literacy, family, coping with change, trans inclusion

 

Boy Meets Boy

by David Levithan, published by Knopf Books, ISBN 0375832998

Follow the story of Paul and his best friends Joni and Tony – who has an uncommonly strict religious background – through their romantic high school experiences, set in a fictional gay friendly small town in New Jersey, USA.

Other themes: Friendship, coming of age, gay representation

 

Boys Don’t Cry

by Malorie Blackman, published by Double Day Books, ISBN 0385604793

17-year-old Dante eagerly answers the front door awaiting his A-Level results but instead finds his ex-girlfriend, Melanie, holding his 11-month-old daughter, Emma. Shortly thereafter, Melanie abruptly exits, leaving Dante to raise his daughter alone. Dante’s dreams of a career in journalism and a university degree are turned upside down by this unexpected parenthood. Explore themes of parenthood, gender, prejudice, and homophobia through the perspectives of Dante and his brother, Adam.

Other themes: Emotional literacy, coping with change, gay representation

 

Colour Outside the Lines: Stories about Love

by Sangu Mandanna, Published by Soho Press, ISBN 1641290463

A wonderful, positive anthology of stories about race, gender, sexuality, and love that celebrates the beauty of difference. Portraying teen protagonists ‘of all colours’ in multicultural and LGBTQ+ relationships, standing up for their beliefs, for each other and for themselves.

This book will be an inspiration for teens struggling with labels and bigotry, as the characters gather the strength to express their beliefs in defence of their identities. It is a call to arms for celebrating beautiful and complex identities.

Other themes: Celebrating difference, friendship

 

Girl2girl – The Lives of Young Lesbian and Bisexual Women

by Norrina Rashid and Jane Hoy (editors), published by DIVA, ISBN 187374145-6

A book written by and for LGBTQ+ young women questioning their sexuality. Their voices resonate through poems, autobiographies, jokes, messages and advice to each other. Young women from 14 to 21 tell it like it is as they struggle to discover themselves and find a way to live openly in a homophobic, biphobic and transphobic world. There are also contributions from parents and important advice for teachers, plus a helpful resource list of support groups and organisations in the UK and North America.

Other themes: Coming of age, lesbian representation, bi representation

 

Not Your Sidekick

by C.B. Lee, published by Duet Books, ISBN 9781945053030

Andover is an ordinary town, but Jess’ family is no ordinary family. Come along with this coming-of-age novel and superhero story all rolled into one.

Other themes: Coming of age, bi representation, trans representation, Asian representation

 

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

by Jeanette Winterson, published by Grove Press, ISBN 9780802135162

This semi-autobiographical novel draws on Jeanette Winterson’s experiences growing up as a lesbian in an Evangelical Christian community in the North West. A timeless classic and true coming of age story.

Content note: This book contains themes of emotional abuse and conversion therapy.

Other themes: Family, coming of age, lesbian representation

 

Orlando: A Biography

by Virginia Woolf, published by Wordsworth Editions ISBN, 1853262390, 9781853262395

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando spans a 300-year time period. Thought to be a love letter to Vita Sackville-West, Orlando is a journey through time and gender.

Other themes: Trans inclusion, challenging gender stereotypes

 

The Colour Purple

by Alice Walker, published by Pocket Books, ISBN 0671727796, 9780671727796

The story of a young, Black girl born into a life of poverty and segregation. A harrowing but important story, and an absolute classic.

Content note: This book contains themes of rape and abuse.

Other themes: Family, coming of age, lesbian representation

 

The Full Spectrum: A new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and other identities

by David Levithan, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, ISBN 0375832904

Teens are more aware of sexuality and identity than ever, and they’re looking for answers and insights, as well as a community of others. In order to help create that community, the authors have collected original poems, essays, and stories by young adults in their teens and early 20s. The Full Spectrum includes a variety of writers, on a variety of subjects: coming out, family, friendship, religion/faith, first kisses, break-ups, and many others.

Other themes: Family, gay representation, bi representation, trans representation

 

Trans inclusion

Alex As Well

by Alyssa Brugman, published by Text Publishing, ISBN 1922079235

Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or. When she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex – the boy Alex – has a lot to say about that. Follow along as Alex explores gender and sexuality, navigating friendships, and finding a place to belong.

Other themes: Coping with change

 

Freakboy

by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong – why he sometimes fantasises about having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls?

 

Parrotfish

by Ellen Wittlinger, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ISBN 1416916229

Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl, so coming out as a boy called Grady feels right him. However, he isn't prepared for the reaction he gets from everyone else. Grady’s life is miserable until he finds friends in some unexpected places – like the school geek, Sebastian and Kita, a senior who might just be Grady’s first love.

Other themes: Family, friendship, relationships

 

Pretend You Love Me

by Julie Anne Peters, published by Samhain Publishing, ISBN 1599983958

Mike is an iron-pumping, truck-driving softball player from Coalton, Kansas. Mike’s world is turned upside down when new girl, Xanadu, arrives in the small town. Mike falls instantly in love and has to overcome the fact that Xanadu may not feel the same way. This novel explores ideas around love, reciprocity, friendship and sexuality.

Other themes: Friendship, relationships, coping with change, family

 

The Art of Being Normal

by Lisa Williamson, published by David Fickling Books, ISBN:1910200328

Two young people. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. Only David’s two best friends know the real truth – David is a girl.

On the first day at his new school, Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

Other themes: Relationships, friendships

 

Trumpet

by Jackie Kay, Published by Pantheon Books,ISBN 0375405097, 9780375405099

Joss Moody is a celebrated jazz trumpeter who created music that convinced everyone who heard it that they knew the man who made it. But Joss’s death has proved them all wrong: Joss Moody lived his life inside a stunning secret. His wife, Millie, had known about it. But their adopted son, Colman, now in his thirties, has just learned of it. With everything he understood about himself and his family thrown into question, Colman forms an uncomfortable alliance with a journalist intent on telling Joss’s story her own way. Together they reveal the startling and poignant story of Joss and Millie: how a complex, dazzling lie became the foundation for a family, a life, and a rare, unshakable love.

Content note: this book deals with themes around bereavement

Other themes: Emotional literacy, family, relationships, coping with change