It’s Nonbinary Parents Day—so whether you go by maddy, baba, mapa, moppa, nibi, zeze, or any other parental name, may you bask in celebration! Here are a few picture books with nonbinary, genderqueer, and two-spirit parents and other adults (or ones that could be read as such) that may help add to the fun!
I’m taking a broad view here in order to be as inclusive as possible; note that some characters’ identities are not specified but could be read as nonbinary. I recognize that different folks may have different definitions of nonbinary; my intent here is not to dictate, but rather to offer a selection from which you can choose what fits your needs.
- My Maddy, by Gayle Pitman and illustrated by Violet Tobacco (Magination Press). “Most mommies are girls. Most daddies are boys. But lots of parents are neither a boy nor a girl. Like my Maddy,” begins this gentle story told as a series of reflections by a child about her parent. While an afterward indicates that the story was inspired by an intersex parent, the text never specifies Maddy’s identity as intersex, transgender, or anything except “neither a boy nor a girl,” allowing nonbinary parents with a range of identities to see themselves here—and more importantly, for their children and children’s peers to see them. Pitman also deftly avoids having the child use any pronouns when referring to Maddy, again leaving room for readers to engage with the story as best suits them, whether the Maddy in their lives uses “they/them,” “xe/xir,” or other pronouns.
- Bell’s Knock Knock Birthday, by George Parker and illustrated by Sam Orchard (Flamingo Rampant). A gender creative child is welcoming their gender diverse friends and family to their birthday party in this fun book that will have you doing the sound effects. The guests include “Grandmani,” who uses “they” pronouns, and other guests who could be read as nonbinary.
- 47,000 Beads, by Angel Adeyoha and Koja Adeyoha, illustrated by Holly McGillis (Flamingo Rampant). A Lakota child gets a little help from her aunt, mother, cousin, and a two-spirit elder in expressing a two-spirit self and dancing at a pow wow.
- Bridge of Flowers, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware (Flamingo Rampant). A story of magic and connection about a child whose two parents, one of whom uses “they” pronouns, have separated.
- The Little Library, by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Schwartz & Wade Books). Part of the author and illustrator’s popular Mr. Tiffin’s Classroom series, this is the tale of a boy who “is a slow and careful reader” and a librarian (who happens to be nonbinary) helping him find just the right book for his interests. Notable for making the librarian’s gender identity a given and incidental to the story. While the librarian isn’t a parent per se, they’re an adult who’s helping a child, so I’m including them here. Full review.
- Similarly, They Call Me Mix/Me Llaman Maestre, by Lourdes Rivas and illustrated by Breena Nunez, is the autobiographical story of a nonbinary child who becomes a teacher and tells their students about “respecting all genders.” Again, not a parent, but I’m making an exception for teachers.
- My Family, Your Family! by Kathryn Cole and illustrated by Cornelia Li (Second Story Press). This simple board book celebrates different types of families, including ones with same-sex parents and one with a child who uses “they” pronouns—and one of the adults on that page could be read as nonbinary, too.
- Super Power Baby Shower, by Fay Onyx and Tobi Hill-Meyer, illustrated by Janine Carrington (Flamingo Rampant). A child with three parents is told a fantastical tale of adventure about the night of their parents’ baby shower. The parents’ gender identities aren’t specified, but at least one of them could be read as nonbinary. The publisher tags this one as having a nonbinary adult, so let’s assume it’s so.
- M Is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book, by Catherine Hernandez and illustrated by Marisa Firebaugh (Flamingo Rampant). We learn an alphabet of Pride-related words through the eyes of a Filipino American child attending a parade with the many “titas,” or aunties, of her chosen family. Some of the characters appear to be gender creative, genderqueer, or nonbinary, though their specific identities are not stated.
- The Last Place You Look, by j wallace skelton and illustrated by Justin Alves (Flamingo Rampant). Two bubbies (grandmothers) who are a couple host a Passover seder for their grandchildren and other family members. All must think creatively when the afikomen (a special piece of matzo) cannot be found. One of the children uses “they” pronouns and one of the adults could be read as nonbinary. The publisher tags this one as having a nonbinary adult, so let’s assume it’s so.
- The Zero Dads Club, by Angel Adeyoha and illustrated by Aubrey Williams (Flamingo Rampant). A child with two moms and one being raised by a single mom (both, incidentally, children of color) tackle a similar issue to Stella—doing a Father’s Day project in class. They team up with a child that lives with a grandmother and an aunt, and one that lives with her Mama and Baba (the latter of whom identifies as a “butch”) to share their stories. Some folks who identify as “butch” see this as a nonbinary identity and others don’t; I’m including the book here for those who do.
- I Looked Into Your Eyes: A Poem for New Families, by Aviva L. Brown and Rivka Badik-Schultz, with illustrations by Catherine Sipoy (SpringLight). This gentle book for new parents and their children celebrates diverse families in the Jewish spiritual tradition. The author told me in an interview that one of the parents (on the cover and on an interior page) is “gender non-conforming.” They could be seen as nonbinary. Full review.
- Over the Shop, by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Qin Leng (Candlewick Press). In this beautifully illustrated wordless tale about found family, a girl and her gender-ambiguous grandparent must rent the apartment over their run-down shop. No one wants it—until one day, a queer couple arrives. One person is dark-skinned with long hair, and reads as female; the other is Asian with short hair and could be read as a transgender man, nonbinary, or a butch/masculine woman. Lawson’s dedication in the front of the book is “To trans activists of all ages,” but without any clarification in the story itself, however, readers have some leeway in interpretation. The grandparent’s gender is never stated; they could be seen as nonbinary, too. Full review.
- Porcupine Cupid, by Jason June and illustrated by Lori Richnmond (Margaret K. McElderry Books). Porcupine is excited that it’s Valentine’s Day, and uses his quills like Cupid’s arrows to poke the other animals as he tells them he hopes they will find their true loves. The others don’t like being poked, however, and call a town meeting to discuss—where pairs of them bond over their shared dislike of Porcupine’s actions, leading to new romances. Some are same-sex pairs and queer cues in the illustrations indicate other LGBTQ identities as well. One wears a scarf colored like the trans flag; another has a yoga mat colored like the genderqueer flag. Yes, some may distinguish between nonbinary and genderqueer; others may see nonbinary as an umbrella term including genderqueer. I leave it to you to decide whether this book fits your needs.
- Plenty of Hugs, by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Kate Alizadeh (Dial Books). I’m including this celebration of the loving relationship between a toddler and parents with some hesitancy, since the publisher has described it as a book about two moms, which implies (but doesn’t absolutely confirm, of course) that they identify as women. Neither of the parents’ genders or pronouns is specified, however. One has a more masculine gender identity and could be read as nonbinary. Full review.
You can always easily search my database of LGBTQ family media again in the future with the “Nonbinary/genderqueer parent/adult(s)” tag (across whatever age categories you choose) to see what’s new—and use the “Nonbinary/genderqueer kid” tag for the growing number of books with representation of younger nonbinary and genderqueer folks!