LGBTQ+ Pride Month Book Suggestions for Kids, Teens and Young Adults

Books are a great way to launch a discussion at home about acceptance, understanding, and empathy

By Kara Murphy, publisher of Macaroni KID Erie, Pa. / Brenna Gutell publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas June 16, 2023

Pride month is celebrated each year in June, it's a vibrant and meaningful time of year filled with rainbow-colored joy! It all began in 1969 with the iconic Stonewall riots, a historic event that paved the way for the rights of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) Americans. While the Stonewall uprising wasn't the beginning of the LGBTQ+ fight for equal rights, it certainly accelerated the movement as more people joined in working to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ+ people in the United States and around the world. 

In today's world, Pride Month has evolved into a spectacular extravaganza with celebrations encompassing grand parades, lively picnics, spirited parties, concerts and more that reverberate with joy across the U.S. But it also feels more important now than ever to raise our voices in support of LGBTQ+ rights, especially on behalf of the entire LGBTQ+ community.

Be sure to check the Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas event calendar for the most up to date Pride events and activities happening in Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Malibu, Oak Park, Thousand Oak, Newbury Park, Westlake Village and in nearby communities in Ventura and Los Angeles County. Please note: not all Pride celebrations are family friendly or meant for all ages, please use your own discretion. 

While this month is a good reminder to spotlight the accomplishments and work still needed to be done, it shouldn't be restricted to just one month, let's embrace and learn about and support our LGBTQ+ community all year long. Spark conversations with your children about LGBTQ+ rights and the significance of being an ally with books that embrace diversity, celebrate individuality, and instill compassion. 

Let these thought-provoking stories, recommended by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others guide you and your family toward a more inclusive and accepting world. 

Together, we can create a future where every child feels seen, heard, celebrated, and loved for who they truly are.

FatCamera from Getty Images Signature via Canva

Many of these books are available at your local community Library as well as online - Librarians are a great resource for finding just the right book.

LGBTQ+ Book recommendations for kids and teens:

Note:  Keep in mind that not all books are appropriate for all ages, use your own discretion. 

It's Okay to Be Different

By Todd Parr

While not specifically a Pride themed book, I felt it was important to include since it's simple messaging expresses the same ideas. It's also one of my favorites - I love the childlike drawings, vibrant colors and simplicity that any reader, young or old can relate to. This really is a must have picture book for your diverse home library. I think you will enjoy any of his books as they all have such a positive message. 

From the Todd Parr website:

Told with Todd Parr’s signature wit and wisdom, It’s Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format. The book features the bold, bright colors and silly scenes that made Todd a premiere voice for emotional discussions in children’s literature. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence–and it’s never to early to develop a healthy self-esteem.

It’s Okay to be Different is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism and diversity, and promote character growth.

Recommended ages:  0-8

The ADL offers these LGBTQ+ literature recommendations for children and young adults. 

The book links below take you to book discussion guides on their website.

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle
By Nina LaCour, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

From the publisher: For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars.

Recommended ages:  3-7

When Aidan Became a Brother

By Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

From the publisher: When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of his life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announced they're going to have another baby and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning ... what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

Recommended ages:   5-8

Stella Brings the Family

By Miriam Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

From the publisher: Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day celebration, but what’s a girl with two daddies to do? It’s not that she doesn’t have someone who helps her with her homework or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy who take care of her and a whole group of other loved ones who support her every day. She just doesn’t have a mom to invite to the party. Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem.

Recommended ages:   4-8

Jacob's New Dress

By Sarah Hoffman and Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case

From the publisher: Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be—a pirate, a bird, a firefighter. But he also wants to just be himself and wear his favorite thing… a dress! Now Jacob has a new dress that he made himself and what he wants most of all is to wear it to school. Will Mom and Dad let him? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles and promises to spark discussions of gender, identity and self-confidence.

Recommended ages: 4-8

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

By Rob Sanders, illustrated by Steven Salerno

From the publisher: On June 25, 1978, history was made when a new flag unfurled in San Francisco. From that moment forward, the flag and its rich, beaming colors of the rainbow would serve as a symbol of hope and pride for the millions of LGBTQ individuals across the world. Learn about the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today's world.

Recommended ages:   5-8

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World

By Ashley Herring Blake

From the publisher: When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen's house is destroyed and her family of six is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm—and what's worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing. Mysteriously, Ivy's drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks — and hopes — that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

Recommended ages:   8-12

Hurricane Child

By Kacen Callender

From the publisher: Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline, who lives on Water Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has had her share of bad luck lately.  But when a new student arrives, Caroline believes her luck is turning around.  Kalinda soon becomes Caroline’s first friend. Together, the two girls must brave their own feelings of friendship — and love — while they seek to discover why Caroline’s mother has disappeared, or risk losing her forever.

Recommended ages:   8-12

Melissa - previously published as George

By Alex Gino

From the ADL: When people look at Melissa, they think they see a boy named George. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. Melissa thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. Melissa really, really, really wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part... because she's a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, Melissa comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Recommended ages: 8-12

Too Bright to See

By Kyle Lukoff 

From the publisher: It's the summer before middle school, and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. 

Recommended ages:   9-12

The Best Man

By Richard Peck

From the publisher: Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be like. Along the way he finds a fourth — Mr. McLeod, a military-based student teacher who both disrupts Archer’s class and enriches it. In response to antigay bullying, Mr. McLeod gives the students a lecture in which he publicly outs himself, a particularly poignant moment.

Recommended ages:   9-12

Gracefully Grayson

By Ami Polonsky

From the publisher: Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?

Recommended ages: 10-14

More LGBTQ+ resources 

Kara Murphy is the publisher of Macaroni KID Erie, PA

Brenna Gutell is the Publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas, CA