I love that more and more LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books are not just “about” being LGBTQ+, but instead show LGBTQ+ people in the fullness of our lives. The downside is that sometimes these books can be hard to find. Here are 10 picture books you may have missed because the queer inclusion isn’t evident from the cover or title, and I haven’t seen them on many lists of LGBTQ-inclusive books. These are all tales of daily life and gentle emotional lessons — but just happen to have queer protagonists or families!
“Too Green!” By Sumana Seeboruth, illustrated by Maribel Castells (Barefoot Books). A young child declares his dislike of the green vegetables his mama brings home. He’d rather have the bread his mum is making. But after his mama involves him in making soup from the vegetables and persuades him to try a sip, he discovers he actually likes it and joyously asks for more. Also available in a bilingual English/Spanish edition.
“Awake, Asleep,” by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Nadia Alam (Orchard Books). Lukoff, a two-time Stonewall Award winner and National Book Award finalist, in his first volume for the very youngest children, leans into his poetic skills with spare, gently rhyming text as we follow three families through daily family moments. There’s also the occasional stumble or bump, quickly followed by a comforting touch — a subtle lesson on resilience. One family has two dads, one has a mom and dad and in the third, the burly, tattooed dad happily pulls on pink hi-top sneakers to match his daughter’s.
“This Is the First Book I Will Read to You,” by Francesco Sedita, illustrated by Magenta Fox (Viking). A father expresses his nurturing, vulnerable thoughts as he gets ready to read to his new child for the first time. A photo on the wall in one illustration shows him and another man with their arms around each other; elsewhere, their photos are paired side by side. They could be brothers, but given that author Francesco Sedita is himself married to a man, it seems likely that the father here is, too. The other dad is not shown elsewhere, but solo moments between parent and child happen even in couples. Those who want to see queerness here can easily do so.
“Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons,” by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Clover Robin (Candlewick). A child talks about the different activities that start — and end — in each season for her, her sister and her moms. This is a book not only about the seasons, but about the intertwining harmonies of nature and family life and finding the new even as we bid farewell to the old.
“Miguel’s Community Garden,” by JaNay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Samara Hardy (Peachtree). A young boy with two dads wants sunflowers for his garden party and sets off with his pet turtle to find them, encountering other plants along the way. A delightful book for early STEM learning, showing readers how to be careful observers of nature.
“A Home Again,” by Colleen Rowan Kosinski, illustrated by Valeria Docampo (Two Lions). Told from the first-person perspective of a red house, this lyrical story begins as the building welcomes its first family, a mom, dad and two (soon three) children. When they leave, the house falls into disrepair until a new family — two men and (soon) their child — moves in and makes the house once more a home.
“Forever Home: A Dog and Boy Love Story,” written and illustrated by Henry Cole (Scholastic). A moving, wordless tale about a boy who has two dads and wants a puppy — and an abandoned dog who needs a home. Cole, illustrator of the classic “And Tango Makes Three,” brings his usual skill and warmth to bear here. The book offers a touching model of how to care for a dog but also conveys that many are in need of homes. Truly a delight.
“Hold That Thought,” by Bree Galbraith, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield (Owlkids). A nonbinary child named Finn gets an exciting idea, depicted as swirls of thought above their head. Friends help shape the idea, and it continues to expand. When a bully disparages it, however, Finn begins to doubt, until they realize they need to share it even further. Eventually, even the bully contributes, and the idea soars. The idea is never specified, which makes the story widely applicable and offers much opportunity for discussion.
“My Friend, Loonie,” by Nina LaCour, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay (Candlewick). A girl’s two moms give her a yellow balloon that becomes her constant companion — until one day, it floats away, leaving her bereft. Her moms try to comfort her, and after time passes, the girl finds a way to engage positively with her memories and even find brightness in the world again. A soothing book about connection, loss and memory.
“How Are You, Verity?” by Meghan Wilson Duff, illustrated by Taylor Barron (Magination). Verity, a neurodivergent, nonbinary child, often replies with a slew of information when people ask, “How are you?” When their brother suggests that the question is just a social greeting, Verity decides to test this for themselves — but also learns when it’s OK to share more about how they’re really feeling.
If you want more books like this, visit my Database of LGBTQ+ Family Books (mombian.com/database) and filter by the “Incidental queerness” tag — or use other tags to find books specifically about LGBTQ+ identities, history and culture, if that’s what you seek.