It’s never to early to start talking to kids about gender and self-expression, and books are a great way to start those conversations. All kids deserve to be seen, validated, loved, and accepted for who they are, whether they’re sure of their gender identity or still figuring it out. These six books explore the beautiful variety of human gender and sexual identity. They celebrate nontraditional gender roles, and explain why no one should be confined by gender roles, anyway. Here you’ll find fun and joyful stories about drag queens, gender-nonconforming kids, and trans kids, and the families who play and celebrate with them. With engaging storylines and colorful illustrations, these books make great anytime reading. But they’ll also spark questions and conversations, and help kids feel comfortable to express themselves however they choose.
by Peter Brown
Fred Gets Dressed is a charming, heartwarming story about a boy who discovers how great he looks (and feels!) in his mother's clothes. Fred loves to run around the house naked and free, until one day when he runs into his parents' closet and decides to give clothes a try. First he tries on his dad's clothes, but he doesn't like them much. Next, he tries on his mom's clothes, and they're just the thing. When his parents find him, everyone in the family joyfully joins in on the fun. It's a story that celebrates the freedom of play and self-expression.
Illustrated by Olga de Dios Ruiz
Written by one of the founding members of Drag Queen Story Hour, The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish is a delightful reinvention a familiar nursery rhyme. Riffing off "The Wheels on the Bus", this fun picture book features a drag queen performing in front of an adoring audience. Swishing hips is just one of her many talents; kids and adults alike will be rapt as, page by page, she goes through her routine. Exuberant and playful, this rhyming story is all about being your truest most authentic self.
Illustrated by Eda Kaban
Colors don't have genders, as Robb Pearlman makes joyfully clear in this colorful picture book. Full of vibrant illustrations, Pink Is for Boys reminds kids that anyone can enjoy pink, and blue....and every other color out there! The story is full of diverse kids expressing themselves in lots of colors, and enjoying themselves playing everything from baseball to dress up. It empowers kids and grownups alike to find joy in whatever they like to do, and wear whatever colors make them happiest.
Vivek Shraya; Rajni Perera (Illustrator)
Written in lilting, rhyming prose, and beautifully illustrated, The Boy and the Bindi tells the story of a young Indian boy who is fascinated with his mother's bindi. His mom patiently explains all about the bindi's cultural significance and history. When he asks for one himself, his mother happily agrees that he can wear one. His bindi allows him to explore and express his gender in a way that makes him feel free and whole.
Jessica Herthel; Jazz Jennings; Shelagh McNicholas (Illustrator)
I Am Jazz is based on the real life of Jazz Jennings, a transgender advocate who came out as a kid, and has also written a book about her life for young adults (Being Jazz: My Life as a Transgender Teen). This illustrated, accessible story is great for younger kids. In it, Jazz explains how she always knew she was a girl, and recounts her experiences navigating the world as a trans kid. Fun and informative, this book will appeal to kids and families alike.
Brook Pessin-Whedbee; Naomi Bardoff (Illustrator)
Fictional picture books are a great way to have conversations with kids about gender and self-expression, but sometimes nonfiction books are useful, too. Who Are You? is a clear and simple illustrated guide to gender that makes a great jumping-off place for talking to young kids about what gender is. Pessin-Whedbee outlines the differences between our bodies, the ways we express ourselves (through clothes, hobbies, etc) and our gender identities. The book comes with an interactive wheel that will help kids understand the differences and connections between gender expression and identity. It also includes a guide for adults highlighting discussion points. Whether you've got kids who are already curious about gender or not, this book is a fun and useful tool.
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