Celebrate Pride in June

Now more than ever it is important to celebrate Pride and show support for LGBTQ+ families! The attack on LGBTQ+ rights this year and the psychological toll it has had on LGBTQ+ kids, teens and their families has been enormous. This wave of hate is being perpetrated by only a small (though powerful) minority of Americans. This hateful legislative push runs completely counter to the beliefs and values of most Americans. Matt Lavietes and Elliott Ramos write in their NBC article, “As the number of anti-LGBTQ bills hits record highs, research shows that so, too, has support for LGBTQ rights and policies prohibiting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans, or 79 percent, support laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations, according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey… That same survey also found that nearly 70 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage.” To read further on the current rash of abusive legislation and its effects, I recommend reading Lavietes’ and Ramos’ article, Nearly 240 Anti-LGBTQ Bills Filed in 2022 So Far and also Kimberly Kindy’s article in the Washington Post, GOP lawmakers push historic wave of bills targeting rights of LGBTQ teens, children and their families. In solidarity with LGBTQ+ kids and their families and to celebrate Pride, I have put together a range of excellent titles (many of them brand-new) of LGBTQ+ children’s books for kids from preschool to sixth grade – read proudly!

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlo
(Grades 5 & UP)
Library Catalog
Libby

“A 13-year-old Long Island girl thinks she has her summer plans figured out–until her life turns upside down. With the end of summer looming, Dalia has one goal: to finally ride an actual roller coaster instead of living vicariously through point-of-view videos. Then she learns about Vanessa, her father's secret girlfriend. And that they are engaged and his fiancee has a college-aged daughter named Alexa. Anxious about this news that comes only a year after her mother left them, Dalia turns to her new swim-team friend, Rani, whom she's eager to get to know better. As the adults want the soon-to-be stepsisters to bond, Dalia, with Rani for company, is allowed to go off with Alexa and her college friend Dhruv on their weeklong amusement park road trip. Along the way, Dalia keeps some of her own secrets–including growing and confusing feelings for Rani that have her brain spinning. This first-person present narration quickens and slows just like the roller coasters Dalia obsesses over. Many readers will identify with the feelings of uncertainty around changing family dynamics and budding first crushes. While this book contains many elements that are widely relatable, the storyline around exploring sexuality is especially resonant. Dalia and her father are Polish American Jews; Vanessa is Colombian American, Rani is Persian American and Muslim, Dhruv is Indian American, and other characters default to White. A heartwarming, queer-affirming story.” – Kirkus Reviews

Pride: An Inspirational History of the LGBTQ+ Movement by Stella Caldwell & Layton Williams
(Grades 6 & Up)
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Libby

“A short but global view of LGBTQIA+ milestones and important figures, this vibrant book shines all the colors of the rainbow on history that's largely only been told in black and white. Bright infographics, time lines, and notable quotations add visual interest, while one-page profiles of notable figures such as Oscar Wilde, Audre Lorde, and Marsha P. Johnson will be sure to motivate readers to seek out additional sources on their own. Starting with ancient human societies across the globe and moving through the centuries to today, this bird's eye view of LGBTQIA+ history will help young people find hope in how far we've come and gain inspiration for the necessary work still ahead. The author never balks at sharing hard truths about the hate and violence that many folks have faced throughout history; however, the major notes are positive, affirming, and full of pride. Inspiring messages from modern-day young adults offer many diverse perspectives and serve as a cleansing breath at the end of each chapter. VERDICT A highly accessible, entertaining, and visually engaging nonfiction book that is a recommended first purchase for all middle and high school libraries.” – School Library Journal

The Best Bed for Me by Gaia Cornwall
(Preschool – 2nd Grade)
Libby

“A young child's imagination runs wild before bedtime. It's lights out, but energetic Sweet Pea, depicted with light-brown skin and straight hair, isn't quite ready to go to sleep yet. Mama, a stout White woman, repeatedly tries to tuck them in, but they obstruct her attempts by chattering on about all the various ways they could sleep. Climbing up a bedpost, they declare that they want to sleep like koalas do, high up in trees. Hiding under their pillow, they pretend that they are dozing like a puffin in its burrow. Standing on their bed, they wonder if they can sleep upright like emperor penguins snoozing on rocks. After making their way through several more animals and their sleeping habits, Sweet Pea's stalling ends as they conclude that their bed is ‘the best bed for me.’ Cornwall's art, rendered in pencil and watercolor with a digital finish, uses a restrained palette of minimal, muted colors that adds a soporific feel to the narrative. The text is dialogue-heavy but flows easily and combines the humor of Sweet Pea's bedtime antics with the tenderness of their relationship with their patient caregivers. The illustrations show that Sweet Pea has two moms, one of whom shares their skin color and hair color. A sweet, playful bedtime story with animal appeal.” – Kirkus Reviews

Calvin by JR Ford, Vanessa Ford & Kayla Harren
(Preschool – 2nd Grade)
Library Catalog
Libby

“After coming out to his family as transgender, a biracial (half Black, half White) boy thrives. A young, brown-skinned child who presents as a girl has always felt like a boy inside and wants to be called Calvin. Admitting this openly is scary, but with loving parental support, the child begins to express his true self. He, his mother, and his father spend the summer at his grandparents' house, a vacation that turns out to be ‘the best ever.’ The family have fun visiting a comic-book convention and a waterpark where Calvin gets to wear trunks for the first time and makes a friend with whom he proudly shares his new name. Before school reopens, Calvin's family helps him shop for boy clothing, and his grandfather cuts off his hair. Calvin worries his classmates won't accept him, but his friends and teachers readily validate his gender expression, bolstering his confidence and joy. This transition story depicts a community cultivating an affirming environment in which a child can flourish. The first-person narration reveals Calvin's inner fears, but his identity and transition never cause external conflict, a welcome departure from the problem-focused storylines of other coming-out picture books written by cisgender adults. However, the text emphasizes that Calvin's gender is in his heart and brain, perpetuating a problematic narrative that divorces transgender people from their bodies. Harren's warm, expressive illustrations communicate much of the emotion in the story and are populated with diverse background characters who have various body sizes, skin colors, hair textures, and disabilities… A valuable model of intentional, compassionate response to gender expansive kids and their needs.” – Kirkus Reviews

Frankie and Bug by Gayle Forman
(Grades 5 & Up)
Library Catalog
Libby

“When Bug's traditional summer routine is shaken up, her entire life changes. It's 1987, and 10-year-old Beatrice ‘Bug’ Contreras has a plan: spend her summer months with her brother, Danny, on Venice Beach as she has for the past two years. But when 14-year-old Danny–who has matured into the name Daniel–wants more time to himself, Bug learns she will be instead hanging out with 11-year-old Frankie, the nephew of Phillip, her mother's best friend and their upstairs neighbor. Frankie, who is visiting from Ohio, is trans at a time before this identity was well understood and has not been treated with kindness or acceptance by his parents. Frankie and Bug become fascinated with trying to solve the case of the Midnight Marauder, a serial killer who has been striking in the area. When Phillip is attacked, ending up in the hospital, their investigation swivels, and the titular characters uncover a few untold family tales. Bug and Daniel's late father was a professor from El Salvador with Indigenous ancestry who spoke Nahuatl as well as Spanish and English. Biracial identity is explored in part through the differences in the siblings' physical appearances: Their mother is implied to be White, and Daniel–who resembles their father more than Bug does–experiences more overt racism and dives into an exploration of his Salvadoran heritage. Readers interested in complex emotional development and relationships will appreciate each character's subtle nuances. Superb storytelling.” – Kirkus Reviews

Alice Austen Lived Here by Alex Gino
(Grades 4-6)
Library Catalog
Libby

“When Staten Island (‘a place known for ways to leave it’) holds a contest for a new statue of a local historical figure, white seventh grader Sam Marino and their best friend, tan-skinned TJ, both nonbinary, design a statue of lesbian photographer Alice Austen, a turn-of-the-century Staten Island resident. As Sam researches Austen, they find another personal connection: not only was Austen queer, she once lived in Sam’s apartment. It’s proof that queer people have always existed, and Sam wants everyone to know—especially their history teacher, who only seems to be interested in DSCWM (‘Dead Straight Cisgender White Men’). With the help of their largely white neighbors, including femme 28-year-old Jess, with whom Sam discusses being ‘fat and fabulous,’ and 82-year-old lesbian Ms. Hansen, they gain a deeper understanding of queer community. Gino (You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!) provides a memorable protagonist in confident, stubborn Sam, whose enthusiasm for Austen’s legacy—and the importance of queer history—is infectious. Sam has a strong understanding of institutional racism, and conversations with their older queer friends often center around intersectional oppression. A late interpersonal conflict feels tacked-on, but the solid representation in this novel offers a testament to the power of intergenerational queer community.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Pride 1 2 3 by Michael Joosten & Wednesday Holmes
(Preschool – Kindergarten)
Library Catalog

“Using a classic count-to-10 format (‘1 parade in the month of June// 2 DJs spin fabulous tunes’), Joosten employs simple rhyming text to identify people and things associated with Pride, from ‘families of all different types’ to ‘activists,’ ‘divas,’ and ‘flags.’ Holmes’s colorful, confetti-dusted illustrations have a relaxed charm; dot-eyed, smiling people of assorted skin tones, gender expressions, and physical abilities (a child in a pink wheelchair appears, and a person is shown using a cane) populate the pages. Though the illustrations occasionally depart from the text—the ‘motorcycles’ revving are unmistakably scooters, and the sixth of ‘6 floats carrying people who are proud’ barely creeps onto the edge of the page—they add helpful context to Joosten’s words through multiple visual signifiers. Signs that read ‘Be kind,’ ‘I love my two daddies,’ and ‘You are magical’ help to clue little readers in on the importance of Pride.” – Publishers Weekly

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour & Kaylani Juanita
(Preschool – 2nd Grade)
Library Catalog
Libby

A child misses their Mommy when she goes away for a few days. On Monday, when ‘the sun is still hiding and the moon is still bright,’ Mommy, a Black woman, wakes her young daughter with a kiss on the cheek. Like ‘always,’ Mama, a White woman with purple hair, gets the plates, the child gets the silverware, and Mommy cooks pancakes. But, unlike most days, Mommy leaves for a work trip to a ‘faraway place,’ to return on Sunday. After her departure, many things throw off the child's routine and elicit big feelings. At the sidewalk cafe, there are two cups instead of the usual three. At the store, the child picks up ‘blueberries for Mommy’ before remembering she isn't home. The girl grows more and more despondent, eventually succumbing to tears; but after a snuggle from Mama, things begin to look up when the child gets an idea for how to welcome Mommy home. YA author LaCour's picture-book debut, narrated from the child's first-person perspective, is filled to the brim with love. Juanita's mixed-media illustrations–a combination of spot art and full-bleed spreads–vividly capture the coziness of the family's life and the range of emotions the child experiences. Visual motifs throughout–such as three raccoons crossing the street and three chairs at the cafe–subtly remind readers of Mommy's absence. Mama has tattoos, and Mommy and the girl both have natural hair and skin patches that suggest vitiligo… A tender tale featuring a loving two-mom family that will resonate with any child who has ever missed a loved one.” – Kirkus Reviews

If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It by Lil Miss Hot Mess & Olga De Dios Ruiz
(Preschool – 2nd Grade)
Libby

“The classic children's action song gets a fabulous twist. Drag queens take center stage in this adaptation of ‘If You're Happy and You Know It.’ The lively, colorful illustrations and the characters' wild costumes will engage readers from the first page. There is no storyline per se; the text consists entirely of three verses of song lyrics. The instructions for a wide range of bodily actions (blow a kiss, strike a pose, say ‘taa-daaa,’ wink, shake your bum, ‘laugh real big,’ mouth the words, twirl around, and shout ‘yesss queen!’) will encourage young readers to get up and move. On each double-page spread one drag queen demonstrates an action and three other cross-dressers mimic it. In addition to celebrating drag queens, this picture book celebrates human beauty in its diverse forms. There is a drag queen using a wheelchair and others sporting glasses, a mustache, and tattoos. There is also a range of skin tones. The book works as an active read that can be enjoyed either individually or in groups. Adults will enjoy reintroducing children to a new version of a timeless childhood song. And of course, for libraries participating in Drag Queen Story Hour, this title is a must! – Kirkus Reviews

C is for Country by Lil Nas X & Theodore Taylor III
(Preschool – 2nd Grade)
Library Catalog
Libby

This alphabet book glides on the style of viral country-rap superstar Lil Nas X. By now just about everyone must know the words to 2019's ever present ‘Old Town Road.’ Those who follow Lil Nas X closely may also recall the initial rejection he weathered as a Black artist who sought to blend hip-hop and country. Even deeper, his courage in publicly declaring and living his gay identity and his hilarious social media antics have buoyed his fame. X's brand of joyousness, boldness, and abundant love follow through in this alphabet book that presents a day in the life of a child Lil Nas X on his ranch. There's the expected animals (horses, cows, rabbits), ‘dirt’ (letter D), and beautiful sunset landscapes (featuring that famous road for the letter O). But remember, this is Lil Nas X, so there's also his gaudy ‘swag’ (letter S), ‘fake fur’ (letter F), signature ‘hats’ (letter H), and stylish ‘boots’ (letter B). Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award winner Taylor provides the illustrations, taking a (mostly) realistic approach to depicting a pint-sized artist amid his beautiful family. Assuredly, Lil Nas X was trolling when he tweeted that this endeavor would the ‘the best kids book of all time,’ but it delivers on expanding the boundary-busting, genre-blending, self-defining, positive-energy universe that Lil Nas X is building for his youthful fan base. And that's probably enough… Sure to excite the youngest fans of Lil Nas X.” – Kirkus Reviews

This is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them and Us by Katherine Locke & Nicole Mellaby
(Grades 3-6)
Library Catalog
Libby

“These 16 short stories by celebrated authors of literature for young people center the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in pivotal moments of childhood and adolescence. As the title suggests, this collection delivers a spectrum of diversity in representation of both personal identities and genre. Whether the stories contain overt fantasy (like dragons, spells, the undead, and time loops), subtle glimmers of the supernatural (like ghosts and magical letters), or realistic grounding in the everyday (like a new kitten, sports, and school), they capture with honesty and vulnerability the feelings that accompany events like the grief of losing a friend or facing rejection from a crush, the nervous thrill of new feelings for someone special, and the freeing, but sometimes still scary, power of self-discovery. Although the majority of the selections are prose, the anthology includes two comics and one story in verse. Many of the protagonists feel a budding desire for close connection–a witch with a squish on her ordinary neighbor, an aspiring marine biologist with a changing friend group, a pirate who misses their sister–and they overcome self-doubt to reach for it. Not every crush works out, and sometimes feelings get hurt, but these outcomes lean toward recovery and personal growth while validating the sadness of loneliness. An essential read, this collection breaks free from the dichotomy of representing LGBTQ+ lives as total tragedy or one-true-love, happily-ever-after coming-out stories. Vital and liberating.” – Kirkus Reviews

In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington
(Grades 4-8)
Library Catalog
Libby

“Following her mother's death, rising eighth grader Andrea ‘Andi’ Byrd is grieving and missing the trust and independence her artist mother afforded her. Living in a new town with her Aunt Janine and Uncle Mark, who are expecting their first child, Andi feels like she's in the way of their growing family and has lost the magic she once felt when playing the trumpet. When her aunt and uncle suggest she attend a prestigious summer music camp–with uniforms, a no-cellphone policy, and mostly White campers–she's sure that going is a mistake. However, soon she finds friendship with Christopher Flores, a quirky Filipino American logophile who is harboring family secrets and trauma of his own. She also meets Zora Johnson, a flutist and the only other Black girl there. Zora seemingly couldn't be more different: Her clothes are sparkly, and she's bubbly and groomed for perfection by her high-achieving parents. But beneath her extroverted veneer, Zora has her own dreams and desires that diverge from her parents' plans. Over time, the girls come to realize how much they have in common. Told in Andi's and Zora's alternating perspectives, the well-paced coming-of-age narrative is sprinkled with contemporary references that bolster its authenticity as it sensitively explores topics such as racism and self-harm and offers a touching portrayal of young queer love. An author's note includes mental health resources for Black women and girls and LGBTQ+ youth. Vivid writing and relatable characters make this a worthwhile read.” – Kirkus Reviews

LGBTQ+ Rights by Virginia Loh-Hagan
(Grades 6 & Up)
Library Catalog
hoopla
Libby

“This series features a colorful layout and youthful text that helps readers explore different social justice topics. The books begin with a short definition of the cause and use color to highlight key words important in the discussion centered around the cause. Different segments allow readers to engage with the cause in an accessible way. The ‘Get Started’ segments provides a blueprint readers can follow; ‘Get in the Know’ highlights historical events or people involved with the cause; ‘Get Inspired’ showcases groups who are active in the movement; and ‘Get Involved’ and ‘Stand Up, Speak Out’ segments list the many ways kids can support the cause. VERDICT These books provide a quick primer on different social justice causes and are suitable for tweens and teens who are passionate about activism.” – School Library Journal

Julián at the Wedding by Jessica Love
(Preschool – 2nd grade)
Library Catalog
hoopla

“Julián is back! He is going to be in a wedding, and he arrives, dressed in a sharp lavender suit and magenta shoes, with his abuela. ‘A wedding is a party for love,’ Love (Julián Is a Mermaid) writes. Julián and flower girl Marisol, who attends in a ball cap with her own caretaker, meet each other, greet the brides—both clad in dazzling white and bright blue shoes—and walk down the aisle with dog Gloria, Marisol sprinkling petals as they go. The brides kiss, the party starts, and Julián and Marisol wander off, Julián having donned Marisol’s flower wreath. When Marisol’s fancy gown suffers from play with Gloria, Julián fashions her a new outfit from his dress shirt and a willow’s trailing boughs—for a magical moment, inside the willow’s arbor, the two become butterflies. ‘There you are!,’ the brides cry when the children rejoin the celebration, and an energetic dance party begins, the Statue of Liberty in the background. Artwork on brown paper allows warm, clear views of the characters, who appear to be Black and Afro-Latinx. The specificity of Love’s characterizations—the way the abuelas kick off their high heels, the brides’ enthusiasm, the children’s expansive gender expressions—offers vibrancy and immediacy, and under their community’s watchful eyes, Julián and Marisol find affection, acceptance, and room to grow.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Being You: A First Conversation About Gender by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli & Anne/Andy Passchier
(Preschool – 1st Grade)
Library Catalog
Libby

“This primer on gender lays the groundwork for affirming conversations and creates opportunities for self-identification. In straightforward, encouraging prose, Madison and Ralli guide readers through a gentle and interactive introduction to gender, sex, self-expression, and feminism. Beginning with a concrete foundation of commonality (everyone has a body), the lesson continues naturally into specific body parts (elbows, noses, vaginas, penises–the latter two not depicted), all the while normalizing that ‘every person's body parts look different.’ With that understanding, the narrator transitions into the way grown-ups describe babies as boys or girls when they are born, based on genitalia; here there's a refreshing (but brief) acknowledgement that sometimes grown-ups aren't sure but make a guess anyway. Emphasizing joy, wonder, the fluidity of identity, and self-expertise, the text carefully distinguishes gender from expression, which leads seamlessly into a developmentally conscious explanation of harmful stereotypes, unfair rules that give boys unearned power, and ultimately a call to action. Prompting questions invite the audience to deepen the facilitated conversation through moments of self-love, reflection, and sharing personal truths. Accompanying illustrations feature a racially diverse cohort of children learning about themselves, playing with one another, and engaging with their community, which includes recurring representations of disabled people as active participants. The final pages, targeted at caregivers, provide additional means of engaging with the conversation and pointedly challenge adults not to underestimate young people. An invaluable resource that supports ease and confidence.” – Kirkus Reviews

Cuando Amamos Cantamos/When We Love Someone We Sing to Them by Ernesto Javier Martínez, Jorge Gabriel Martínez Feliciano & Maya Gonzalez
(Grades K-3)
Library Catalog
“What a groundbreaking gem of a book that recognizes and celebrates the first heartbeats of a boy's crush on another boy. This sensitively written story and its stunning illustrations hold up to the light an emotional truth that has heretofore been whispered and sings it to life!” – Rigoberto González, award-winning author, critic and educator
‘Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick & Juan Medina
(Preschool – 2nd grade)
Library Catalog
Libby

“A small family gets ready for the next day's Pride march. On ‘the night before Pride,’ drag queens brush their wigs ‘with great care,’ while bikers check the air pressure in their motorcycle tires. Across the city, marchers-to-be plan their outfits or polish musical instruments. Inside a family's home, a brown-skinned mom encourages everyone to ‘go to bed early,’ while the other mom, a White woman, packs snacks. At the older, wavy-haired, light-brown-skinned child's behest, the family tells light-brown-skinned, curly-haired baby Sammy ‘the whole story’ about ‘Prides past.’ Harking back to 1969–’a less fair time’–the family's account abridges some of the many injustices that led to the famous Stonewall riot that sparked ‘a march that spread worldwide.’ Going beyond ‘tutus and rainbow suspenders,’ the family tells Sammy about ‘rights for queers and all our beautiful genders.’ As they settle into bed, the older child notes what Pride means to them: being yourself! Debut author McClintick, a social worker, joins forces with award-winning illustrator Medina to present a child's-eye view of Pride that borrows its cadence and rhyming scheme from Clement Clarke Moore's classic Christmas poem. Rainbows abound in Medina's full-color digital illustrations, which incorporate historical references and depict a wonderfully diverse cast, including background characters with disabilities. While there is no shortage of picture books about Pride, this one may be the most inclusive and expansive yet. Endpapers depict over 80 important historical LGBTQ+ figures, including some prominent children's book authors and illustrators… An affirming and kid-friendly history lesson.” – Kirkus Reviews

The One Who Loves You the Most by Medina
(Grades 5 & Up)
Libby

“An uplifting narrative about the freedom and clarity labels can offer. Gabriela is a middle schooler on a journey of self-discovery. As a Honduran child adopted by a White mom, they have never felt completely comfortable with their body or their community. But things start to change when Abbie and Héctor enter their school. Abbie is an Indian and Peruvian American trans intersex girl, and Héctor is a Guatemalan American bisexual genderfluid person. Together, with understanding, patience, and lessons in Queer 101, they invite Gabriela to start exploring words that could fit them. Though Gabriela's crush on Maya is a sweet addition to the story, it's the friendship between Gabriela and their two new friends that makes the book shine. With their acceptance and love, Gabriela navigates middle school classes and turmoil, their mother's depression, and a world that isn't always welcoming to queer folks. With stellar adult characters, accessible prose, a diverse cast, and an uplifting narrative, the book tells a quick-moving story that can serve as a guide for adults to explore the LGBTQ+ lexicon with young people and help middle-grade readers discover, like Gabriela does, the power of understanding and identifying themselves. Gabriela and their friends offer queer kids a story with a happy ending. A sweet book that's sure to spread love and hopefulness.” – Kirkus Reviews

Our Subway Baby by Peter Mercurio & Leo Espinosa
(Grades K-3)
Library Catalog
Libby

“Families are formed everywhere–including large metropolitan mass-transit systems! Baby Kevin, initially known as ‘Danny ACE Doe,’ was found in New York City's 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin's other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete's point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using ‘piggy banks’ instead of ‘bank accounts’ to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa's posterlike artwork–which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see–extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author's note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love… A delightful story of love and hope.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Rainbow Parade by Emily Neilson
(Preschool – 3rd grade)
Library Catalog

“Inspired by the author's childhood memories of attending San Francisco Pride, this picture book offers a delightfully dynamic child's-eye view of the festivities. Emily, a young White girl, and her two White moms take the train to join their ‘family of friends’ alongside the parade route. Emily narrates the story in the first person, relaying her observations. She admires the bikers and the loud, proud, colorful marchers and performers, who vary in size, skin color, physical ability, and age and who wear ‘whatever makes them feel most like themselves.’ But when Mommy spots a group of LGBTQ+ families (‘just like us!’) marching and suggests they join them, Emily worries she's ‘not loud or proud enough to be in the parade.’ Her moms' poignant, encouraging responses are just what she (and likely, many readers) needs to hear. Neilson employs simple, accessible language to deliver a buoyant tale that fleshes out the notion of Pride–an integral cultural concept within the LGBTQ+ community–by showing rather than telling. The stylized digital illustrations include true-to-life details that affectionately reflect the array of outfits, identities, and signage one might encounter at a Pride celebration. Meanwhile, the pitch-perfect visual pacing (the artwork shifts effortlessly between immersive, full-bleed pages and spot illustrations) captures the movement, scope, and many moods of the parade. Readers familiar with San Francisco may recognize the BART train, which helps establish the setting… An exploration of community and belonging that's highly recommended for all families and all bookshelves.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro
(Grades 4-6)
Library Catalog
Libby

“Injecting a contemporary story of middle school cliques with magical realism, Oshiro’s (Each of Us a Desert) gentle, imaginative novel drops 12-year-old Héctor Muñoz, a gay theater kid of Mexican descent from San Francisco, into an inland suburb where his family moves for his mother’s new teaching job. Targeted by Mike, a white kid who declares that being gay is ‘so… gay,’ Héctor takes refuge in a janitor’s closet that seems to appear whenever he needs it. He soon finds that the room is a sort of pocket dimension; it not only roves, but also morphs to meet the needs of anyone drawn there from their own school—including Juliana Chin, a hot-tempered, gay Black and Chinese girl in Charleston, and Sal Ocampo, a quiet nonbinary Filipino and white kid outside Phoenix. Oshiro literalizes every middle school kid’s dream of occasionally disappearing, while investigating the idea of safe spaces and, eventually, brave ones, as the three Roomies venture into their respective schools to navigate their specific difficulties. Starring an assured queer protagonist who turns his flair for drama into a means of helping others, and a number of supportive adults, Oshiro’s intersectional saga conveys a strong message about letting go of secrets and, with help from loved ones, reclaiming space.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Stitch by Stitch: The Story of Cleve Jones and the AIDS Memorial Quilt by Rob Sanders & Jamey Christoph
(Grades K-4)
Library Catalog

“Learn the history of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt stitch by stitch. Cleve Jones, San Franciscan activist and mentee of Harvey Milk, is the central figure in an informative picture book that captures the history and tone of the era in which the AIDS Quilt grew. While in San Francisco, Cleve witnessed a mysterious illness that was sweeping through the gay male community, killing the majority of victims. On Nov. 27, 1985, Jones helped organize a march to remember recently assassinated politicians Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Cleve and a co-organizer handed out cardboard and markers, asking participants to write down names of friends who'd died of AIDS. The sight of these names taped to the walls of San Francisco's Federal Building became the impetus for the quilt. Its story is beautifully captured in the book's smooth pacing and brief paragraphs. Readers will follow its journey from that march as it becomes both a monument to mourning and a means of changing the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. The weighty backmatter, which includes discussion points, a glossary, timeline, biographies, and brief bibliography, will help educators and caregivers guide further learning. The racial diversity on display throughout the book is admirable; it's a shame that diversity did not extend to body shapes as well. This quibble aside, the book is pretty darn impressive… Storytelling and history, beautifully stitched together.” – Kirkus Reviews

Two Grooms on a Cake: The Story of America’s First Gay Wedding by Rob Sanders
(Preschool – 3rd Grade)
Library Catalog

“The first legal gay marriage in the U.S. was held in…1971. The two groom figurines on the top of the cake at the first legal same-sex wedding celebration narrate the story of Jack and Michael, who met in 1966. The cake-topping grooms compare the creation of the cake they will stand on to the growing relationship of the couple and then to their struggle to get a marriage license, which includes law school, a name change (from Jack to the gender-neutral Pat), and a solo visit to City Hall for the license (for Michael). The cake is finished; the license is granted. Michael and Jack celebrate their wedding…but the battle for equality is far from over. Fifty years on, the couple is even more in love, and finally LGBTQ+ couples can marry in all 50 states. Sanders tells the tale in easy-to-understand language, sweet as the frosting on the cake, and leaves the bulk of the details for the comprehensive backmatter: author's note, marriage equality timeline, photographs of Jack and Michael as young and older men, and a well-rounded bibliography. Cathro's whimsical, retro-feeling illustrations on cream-colored paper show the cake toppers assisting in the creation of the cake as their human counterparts work for the right to marry. Both cake toppers and human grooms present White… As beautiful as it is informative about this little-known battle in the fight for equality.” – Kirkus Reviews

Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper
(Grades 5 & Up)
Library Catalog
Libby

“In a heartfelt middle grade debut, Stamper (Golden Boys) traces a gay 13-year-old’s arc toward authenticity and queer community in Midwestern America. After Jake Moore comes out to his parents, his father installs a large pride flag in the family’s front yard, spurring uncomfortable reactions from more conservative members of their rural Ohio village—led by Jake’s neighbor mayor, who actively silences discourse around the topic. Fearing that he’ll never be fully accepted, but inspired by queer inclusion in a farming simulation game in which he feels at home, Jake decides to throw Barton Springs’ first Pride festival, envisioning ‘something huge and full of joy that for once didn’t have to do with a basketball game.’ He has the support of his parents and his academically ambitious best friend, Jenna, and finds an unexpected ally in his crush, mayor’s son Brett Miller. But village politics and red tape threaten to derail the festival, forcing Jake and his cohort to work toward changing the system for the better. Drawing from his own childhood experiences and employing sympathetically rendered characters (protagonists read as white), Stamper keeps the accessible story hopeful with a clear-eyed message of acceptance, inclusion, and bighearted community.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Pride Puppy by Robin Stevenson & Julie McLaughlin
(Preschool – 2nd Grade)
Library Catalog
hoopla
Libby

“LGBTQIA + ABC + dog = fun! This queer-centric alphabet book follows a young light-brown-skinned protagonist of ambiguous gender, their moms (an interracial couple), baby sibling, and rambunctious dog as they get ready to head off to a Pride parade. Disaster looms, however, when a tumble leads to a loose dog and a chase through the parade to reunite the four-legged member of the family with its bipedal owners. Each page introduces the next letter of the alphabet, advancing the story and along the way offering a plethora of vocabulary words (sometimes in print, sometimes in illustrations–a concluding search-and-find word list will send readers back through the book). While the story is sweet, the illustrations are the real stars of the show, depicting realistic characters and a crowd that is diverse in age, skin tone, racial presentation, size and shape, ability, and body modification. The cartoon illustrations are highly detailed, which may make the book challenging for large-group storytimes, but it will keep lap-readers invested as they pore over the characters, designs, and background actions. The only thing missing is a flag identification guide to help caregivers identify the variety of identities found and supported within the book. That quibble aside, the book is sheer delight and will be a welcome addition to shelves everywhere. Highly–and proudly–recommended.” – Kirkus Reviews

Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild & Charlene Chua
(Preschool – 2nd Grade)
Library Catalog
Libby

“Violet only has eyes for one other child in her class: Mira. Violet longs to spend her days dreaming and adventuring with Mira. But whenever Mira comes close, Violet panics and is unable to speak. In the winter, Violet gets an idea: If she can't express her feelings in words, maybe she can express them through art. She decides to make Mira an extra-special valentine, covering it with glitter and signing it, ‘Love, Violet.’ On Valentine's Day, she tucks the paper heart under her lucky cowboy hat and plucks up her courage. But no amount of preparation or lucky charms can protect Violet from what happens next. After bumping into Mira, Violet trips and falls, and the whole class laughs at her. At recess, her hat flies away, leaving the valentine she made soaked with snow. It takes all Violet's courage and resilience to pick herself up, dust herself off, and express her feelings–but when she does, the results are more wonderful than her wildest dreams. The book's text is action-packed and heartfelt, capturing the juddering rhythms of Violet's nervousness, and the watercolor illustrations are suffused with emotion, detail, and movement. The gentle, child-friendly romance at the heart of the story is a perfect celebration of courage and queerness, and earnest, awkward Violet is a protagonist every reader will root for. Violet presents White, and Mira has brown skin. A sweetly empathetic, child-friendly girl-girl romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

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