Book Review

7 Queer Reads for Little Beans

Yes, little kids need LGBTQIA+ books. From affirming their family lives to providing information for their inquiring minds, these picture and chapter books are age-appropriate and perfect for every bookshelf. 

Love is Love by Michael Genhart

Dealing with bullying and homophobia, we see the story from a little boy’s point of view. He loves wearing his rainbow shirt and supporting his two dads, but when children at school tease him for his shirt, his sadness radiates off the page. Talk about a heart-breaker. And as the story goes on, we see his family, their love, and the love shared between families and children with a very important, very simple message: love is love, and that is universal and beautiful.

Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love

A 2019 Stonewall Book Award winner! An absolutely charming picture book about a little boy who lives with his abuela and has an obsession with mermaids. It’s all he thinks and dreams about. So when he sees three women on the subway dressed as mermaids, he goes home and wraps a curtain around his waist. When his grandmother sees his ensemble, she takes him to a festival where people of all kinds and shapes are dressed in fabulous, outrageous costumes. The illustrations are gorgeous, the message so very sweet, and the honesty of it makes this book a keeper.

My Rainbow by DeShana Neal and Trinity Neal

Oh my heart for this book, and it’s a true story! Trinity is an autistic, transgender Black girl and she really wants long hair. DeShana, her mother, helps her by creating a fabulous, colorful wig and giving her love and reassurance. It is an incredibly endearing, heartwarming picture book featuring the struggles and reality of helping a child dealing with identity and gender expression.

This Is Our Rainbow by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby

The only book like this for older elementary and middle grade kids! It’s a delightful anthology of stories about different ways LGBTQIA+ kids can express themselves, and the realities that come along with being part of a marginialized group. From fantasy and sci-fi to contemporary, these stories are joyous and perfect for readers who want to understand themselves better, or understand someone else in their lives.

Too Bright To See by Kyle Lukoff

It’s a ghost story, a book about grief and understanding, and honestly just a beautiful story. Bug is a transgender boy and he lives in a haunted house, which feels more claustrophobic and less joyful now that his Uncle Roderick, who was gay, has passed away. When an unamed ghost starts following him around, Bug turns to find comfort in his friend Moira, who is detached and going through her own difficulties as the start of middle school looms over them. Rightfully so, the book is a National Book Award finalist.

How To Become A Planet by Nicole Melleby

I can’t resist this book – and that cover! This is a very gentle coming-of-age story about Pluto, who loves astronomy but is reeling from her recent diagnosis with anxiety and depression. Her family isn’t taking the news well, either, and her single mother worries, but still expects an awful lot from her daughter. When Pluto meets Fallon, a girl questioning her identity, they form an immediate, special bond. It’s a valuable book for a number of reasons, but the setting and characters truly shine with gentle authenticity and relatability.

Our Subway Baby by Peter Mercurio

“Some babies are born into their families. Some are adopted. This is the story of how one baby found his family in the New York City subway.” Possibly my favorite book on this list, and that was a tough call to make! Based on the true story of when Peter’s husband Danny discovered an abandoned baby on the subway station in New York while on his way home from work. Together they work to adopt the little boy, who they name Kevin, and give this child a loving home. The soft illustrations from Leo Espinosa sing on every page, and create a beautiful backdrop for a dear story that hit me right in the heart.

Halli Starling (she/her) writes fantasy worlds, vampires, and romance, focusing on stories with deep emotional investment. And the occasional bloody bit of violence.

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