Tag: Board

16 LGBTQ-Inclusive Picture Books and Board Books You May Have Missed

Mombian - Sustenance for Lesbian Moms Since 2005

I’ve been adding books fast and furiously to my database and haven’t mentioned them all individually on the blog—so here are a few newish ones that are worth a look!

16 LGBTQ-Inclusive Kids' Books You May Have Missed

Click the links to see the database entries for each book, including longer reviews. All are picture books except when noted. Click the headers for even more books from the database on these topics.

Two-Mom Families and Queer Women

  • A Mother’s Day Surprise, by Lindsay B and illustrated by Kate Phillips. A young Black girl is excited about surprising her two moms (one Black, one White) on Mother’s Day—two mothers mean “two times the fun,” but also “twice the work.”
  • Mom Marries Mum! by Ken Setterington and illustrated by Alice Priestley (Second Story Press). The simplified board book version of Setterington’s 2004 Mom and Mum Are Getting Married. A young girl wants to help on her moms’ wedding day, and she ends up being the flower girl as her brother carries the rings.
  • A Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas, by Evie Robillard and illustrated by Rachel Katstaller (Kids Can Press). A biography of Gertrude Stein and “her partner Alice Toklas” that focuses on their life together in Paris. The poems of the title are free verse and addressed directly to the reader (“The next time you go to Paris…”), and interspersed with bits of Stein’s own writings. Quirky and charming, just like its subjects. Best for the older end of the picture-book age range.

Two Dads and Queer Men

  • Leaders Like Us: Bayard Rustin, by J. P. Miller and illustrated by Markia Jenai (Discovery Library). A biography that focuses on Rustin’s work with the Black civil rights movement, but that also notes “Some people treated Bayard unfairly because he was gay, but that did not stop him.”
  • Aalfred and Aalbert: A Love Story, written and illustrated by Morag Hood (Peachtree). Aardvarks Aalfred and Aalbert each sometimes longed to be part of a pair, but each had his own life, one nocturnal and one diurnal, so they never met. When a little bird notices, wordlessly, that they might do well together, it sets out to nudge them into encountering each other. While I tend to prefer books with human LGBTQ characters, who often provide more authentic representation, this book is just darn cute, and would make a nice addition to a collection that already has books with human LGBTQ characters. (Additional observation: The hardback version is titled just Aalfred and Aalbert, but the 2020 paperback version is Aalfred and Aalbert: A Love Story. In its review, School Library Journal called the book “a lovely book about finding a new friend.” Clearly they missed the point—the original U.K. publisher’s own blurb calls the bird a “matchmaker” and says the story “will appeal to families with LGBTQ parents and family members.” The two aardvarks have obviously found aamor.)

Queer Parents and Divorce

  • Two Moms, Two Houses, by Jessica Wexler and illustrated by Jeric Tan (Pride Fairy Press). A young child of unspecified gender introduces readers to their divorced mommy and mama, to the separate houses they live in with each one, and to the different routines they have with each. I like that it doesn’t try pedantically to explain what divorce is, but just focuses on the positive things that the child does with each mom.
  • My Family Is Changing: A Drawing and Activity Book for Kids of Divorce, by Tracy McConaghie and illustrated by Karen Greenberg (Rockridge Press). This interactive book is intended to help children better understand and cope with the changes that come with having divorced parents. In it, seven (fictional) children of various skin tones, including one with two moms and one with two dads, share their own stories of having divorced parents. Each story is followed by prompts and activities.

Family Diversity

  • Federico and All His Families, by Mili Hernández and illustrated by Gómez (Nubeocho). A cat wanders through the neighborhood, visiting families with two moms, two dads, one of each, a single mom, and a grandparent caregiver. Also available in Spanish.
  • Under the Love Umbrella, by Davina Bell and illustrated by Allison Colpoys (Scribble US). Several children encounter everyday difficulties—a broken toy; a friend who is unfair; a scary barking dog, a moment of shyness—as a parental narrator (or really, several narrators, as we see several different families) soothingly reassures them that the “umbrella of my love” is always with them. One of the children has two moms.
  • Love in the Wild, by Katy Tanis (Mudpuppy). This board book celebrates the many types of love found in the animal kingdom, “based on scientists’ observations of same-sex couples, adoption, non-binary gender expression and more.” It’s impossible to tell from the illustrations what sex or gender most of the animals are, though, so adults might need this supplemental PDF to launch further discussions of sex and gender, but the book is full of rainbows and the message that “love is love,” making this a sweet addition to storytime reading, regardless.
  • Families Belong, by Dan Saks and illustrated by Brooke Smart (Penguin Workshop). A simple board book about the things that families do that show they belong together. One page includes a two-mom family.
  • I Love Us: A Book About Family (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), illustrated by Luisa Uribe. A board book about different types of families, including one with two dads (and maybe one with two moms; it’s unclear if they’re together or in two separate families). On each page, a narrator (presumably a child in the depicted family) tells us all the things they love to do with their family. Includes a mirror (unbreakable) in the back and a freeform family tree for readers to reflect themselves.
  • Family Is: Count from 1 to 10, by Clever Publishing, illustrated by Katya Longhi. A board book that counts from one to 10 with images of diverse families and the various people in them, including families with two moms or two dads.
  • My Family, Your Family, by Kathryn Cole and illustrated by Cornelia Li (Second Story Press. A board book celebration of different types of families, including ones with same-sex parents and one with a child who uses “they” pronouns (and maybe a nonbinary adult, too). Note, however, that the page for “Blended family” shows a family with a Black mom, White dad, one White kid, and two Black kids, so some children might assume that “blended” always means multiracial. Adults will need to explain.

Gender Identity and Expression

  • Patrick’s Polka-Dot Tights, by Kristen McCurry and illustrated by MacKenzie Haley (Capstone Editions). Patrick loves wearing his polka-dot tights and using them imaginatively. They don’t really belong to him, however—they’re his sister’s, though “she failed to appreciate their many uses,” he thinks. When she stains them beyond repair, he’s upset—but both his mom and dad step in to help. Notable for not involving anyone questioning or harassing him for his gender creativity.
  • Rainbow Boy, by Taylor Rouanzion and illustrated by Stacey Chomiak (Beaming Books). A young boy finds it hard to answer the question: “What’s your favorite color?” He loves his pink tutu, red crayon, orange basketball, and more. His mom tells him at the end that his heart is too big for just one color: “You need a whole rainbow to fill it up.” The protagonist clearly identifies himself as a boy, but has an expanded view of what that means.

And don’t forget the many LGBTQ-inclusive books that I’ve already written about here on the blog!

I got board so I made a lesbian moodboard : actuallesbians

I got board so I made a lesbian moodboard :

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Board Book with Same-Sex Parents, Gender Creative Kids, and Pregnant Trans Man Wins Prestigious Stonewall Book Award

Stonewall Book Award Winners for LGBTQ Kids’ and Young Adult

The American Library Association (ALA) today announced its 2021 Stonewall Book Awards for LGBTQ-inclusive children’s and young adult books, part of the Youth Media Awards that also include the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott Medals. The winner was a board book that includes not only same-sex parents, but also gender creative kids and a pregnant transgender man.

We Are Little Feminists: Families

The Stonewall Book Awards — Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award (to distinguish them from the Stonewall Book Awards for adult books) are chosen by a committee of the ALA’s Rainbow Round Table, “the oldest professional association for LGBTQIA+ people in the United States.” This year’s winner is:

  • We Are Little Feminists: Families, by Archaa Shrivastav (Little Feminist), a board book that uses simply rhymes to celebrate many types of families as it shows photos of real families around the world engaged in everyday activities. While other books may have similar themes, this one is notable for the photos of actual families and the broad LGBTQ inclusion. Several of the families include two moms and two dads; there are also children who seem nonbinary or gender creative, and one image of a transgender man who is pregnant. (Readers may recognize him as trans advocate Trystan Reese, who posts about his family on Instagram at @biffandi.) Some images are below; note the publisher has not made the one with Reese available to the media, but it’s very similar to this one on his Instagram. This is truly a joyous book that belongs in any library or bookshelf for young children.

Four honor books were also selected:

  • Beetle & The Hollowbones, written and illustrated by Aliza Layne (Atheneum Books for Young Readers): In this middle grade graphic novel, 12-year-old goblin-witch Beetle, who lives in the eerie town of ‘Allows, fits in neither as a sorceress nor as a ghost whose spirit is trapped in the mall, like her nonbinary best friend Blob Ghost. When Beetle’s old best friend, Kat Hollowbone, returns to town for a sorcery apprenticeship with her Aunt Hollowbone, Beetle is reminded of her inadequacy. Yet plans are afoot that endanger Blob Ghost and force Beetle to act, confronting her fears and her feelings for Kat. A fun and clever story that is surprisingly human despite the fantastical characters.
  • You Should See Me in a Crown, by Leah Johnson (Scholastic): In this middle grade novel, Liz Lighty is a Black, nerdy, poor, wallflower, which sets her apart in her small, rich, Midwestern town. But when a scholarship to an elite college falls through, she unexpectedly finds herself in the social spotlight, running for prom queen and the prize money that brings. As if that’s not hard enough, she may also be falling for one of her competitors. Full review.
  • Darius the Great Deserves Better, by Adib Khorram (Dial Books): This sequel to Khorram’s young adult novel Darius the Great Is Not Okay, continues the story of Darius, an out gay Iranian American teen navigating romantic relationships and family as well as bullying, racism, and his family’s financial struggles. He also has queer grandmothers.
  • Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender (Balzer + Bray): A young adult novel about a Black, transgender teen whose plan to foil transphobic harassment lands him in an unexpected love triangle—but also leads him to redefine how he feels about himself.

In addition to the above, Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail, by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Susan Gal (Charlesbridge) won the Sydney Taylor Book Award, presented annually to “outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.” While the LGBTQ content is slight (one pair of visiting relatives to the Passover seder is a two-dad couple), I’m still going to mention it. Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies and many other LGBTQ-inclusive works, arguably brought LGBTQ picture books into mainstream awareness, so I’m happy to celebrate any recognition of her work. Full review.

And queer mom Jacqueline Woodson won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award for her middle grade novel Before the Ever After (Nancy Paulsen Books) about a 12-year-old whose father, a retired football player, is grappling with traumatic brain injury.

The full list of ALA Youth Media Award winners is here.

Congratulations to them all!


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Library Board to Discuss Removal of LGBTQ Books from Children’s Section

Library Board to Discuss Removal of LGBTQ Books from Children's

A group of patrons has asked for LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books to be removed from the children’s section of a Louisiana public library and made available for checkout only by adults. The library board is set to discuss the matter this afternoon.

Books challenged in Lincoln Parish Library children's section

The Ruston Leader in Ruston, Louisiana, reported Friday that according to Lincoln Parish Library Director Vivian McCain, she and members of the library’s Board of Control in mid-November “began receiving emails from more than a dozen patrons, all with identical verbiage, asking that ‘LGBTQ items’ be removed from the shelves and displays in the children’s department.”

Among the books targeted for removal, according to the paper, are My Two Moms and My Two Dads by Claudia Harrington; Real Sisters Pretend, by Megan Dowd Lambert; The Great Big Book of Families, by Mary Hoffman; Jazz Jennings: Voice for LGBTQ Youth, by Ellen Rodger; Snapdragon, by Kat Leyh; the Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland, and George and Rick

by Alex Gino. Other books would also be impacted, but were checked out at the time the paper did its reporting and photographs.

A few board members met to discuss the complaints and asked McCain to remove the books, which she allowed, reported the paper. It added that McCain said, “This goes against every grain in my body as a public librarian.”

McCain told local news station KNOE yesterday that the books had been chosen for the library’s collection according to “stringent criteria,” and that they were removed after the complaints in order to make sure they did meet the criteria. My interpretation is that she was willing to subject them to this extra scrutiny knowing that they are fine, but that she is not in favor of permanently removing them from the children’s section. She spoke with KNOE about the stigma that restricting the books puts on patrons, particularly children, who want to check them out.

The board has now reviewed the books, KNOE reported, and is expected to recommend at a meeting today at 4:00 p.m. CT, that they be placed back on the shelves. KNOE said McCain is “thrilled.”

The library is in fact now closed to the public until December 14 because a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, but the meeting is as of this writing, still proceeding.

Unfortunately for the library, too, the town on Saturday voted down the property tax that funds most of its budget. The Ruston Leader said that this vote had been mentioned in the November letters challenging the LGBTQ books; it is unclear if the challenges impacted the vote.

LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books are among those most often targeted for removal or restriction, as the American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books of the Past Decade list shows. Authors of such books also face attempts to stop them from giving book talks in schools or libraries, whether in-person or virtual. Once books about LGBTQ people and those with LGBTQ parents are restricted in libraries and/or schools, what’s next? Banning a transgender parent from taking their kids to a library book reading? Telling a kid during show-and-tell that they can’t talk about taking a family vacation with their two moms?

And yes, it’s a parent’s choice about what to teach our kids and expose them to, though our ability to control that declines rapidly as our children grow, in my experience. As I wrote way back in 2007 (in relation to attempted censorship in a school curriculum), “At some, if not many, points in my child’s education, the curriculum will contain something that contradicts a viewpoint I hold. The solution is not to ban it from being taught, but rather for me to be involved enough—with both the school and my son—that I can use the occasions as opportunities to teach him what I do believe. Wanting to ban something from the curriculum is an admission that I have little faith in my own teaching abilities and influence over my child.” (Though again, that influence tends to decline as our kids reach adulthood, which is something we parents just have to roll with.) Same applies to books in libraries.

Let’s hope that the board does indeed do the right thing, as KNOE indicates it will, and keeps these books on the shelves.


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Board Book Explores Joyful Messes and Diverse Families

Board Book Explores Joyful Messes and Diverse Families

A fun board book for the youngest children is full of surprises and diverse families as it celebrates the messiness of life.

Who Is Making a Mess? - Maria D'Haene

Who Is Making a Mess? written by Maria D’Haene and illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan (Amicus Publishing), is told in alternating two-page spreads. The first spread asks the titular question and shows a close-up portion of an image—jeans-clad legs sticking out from under a car bumper; the bottom of a frilly apron worn by an adult standing next to a child at a table; or the back of an adult standing at a sink of dirty dishes, for example.

The second page of each spread changes the perspective to show who is really making the mess. “Mama is making a mess,” we read as we zoom back to see that the jeans-clad legs belong to a woman in overalls fixing a car as her presumed husband stands by holding their baby; their other daughter is fixing her scooter, in imitation of Mama. The frilly apron is worn by a grandpa, helping his grandchildren bake. The person at the sink is a mother wearing a baby carrier over her chest as her baby splashes water; she looks slightly harried as she turns to speak with another woman bringing in groceries, presumably her spouse.

The people are racially diverse and come together on the last page for a big, messy picnic. It’s unclear if they’re all part of one big family or just a community, but their joy at being together is obvious.

I love the interactivity generated by the question-and-answer format and the zoomed-in/zoomed-out illustrations. Young readers will delight in guessing at what’s to come (even after the umpteenth reading; trust me, I had a toddler)—and in seeing the characters make their messes. Ryan’s images are full of color, motion, and joyous splatters, and make the whole concept work.

Subtle messages about breaking gender stereotypes may also serve them well in the years ahead. Who Is Making a Mess? is a book worth adding to the mess on your bookshelf.


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