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7 stellar picture books about LGBTQ+ history to help educate your kids

Help kids learn about LGBTQ history with these amazing picture books

LGBTQ+ history may sound like a grown-up topic at first to some parents, but it’s actually very accessible with these picture books. Just like women’s history or Black history, it’s about sharing the stories of inspiring historical figures in age-appropriate ways. Skilled authors sharing identity, joy, pride, and courage will enhance your children’s educational foundation and open-mindedness for interacting with all kinds of friends and families.

Before the 2010s, no books on LGBTQ+ history existed for children. Today, there are over fifty. We’ve combed through them to bring you the very best picture books we recommend for sharing with kids ages three to nine in honor of LGBTQ+ History Month, celebrated in October in the U.S.

Be Amazing: A History of Pride by Desmond Napoles and Dylan Glynn

Desmond Napoles is better known as teen drag sensation “Desmond Is Amazing,” a social media star, model, speaker, performer, and clothing designer. They added author to that list in 2020 with their book Be Amazing that “walks you through the history of the LGBTQ community, all while encouraging you to embrace your own uniqueness and ignore the haters.”

Kind Like Marsha: Learning from LGBTQ+ Leaders by Sarah Prager and Cheryl “Ras” Thuesday

This book shares 14 historical figures with a positive trait that young readers can aspire to embody—you can be artistic like Frida Kahlo, you can be creative like Leonardo da Vinci, or you can be determined like Sylvia Rivera. Alone with a two-sentence biography and quotation from each person, this picture book is a kid-friendly introduction to LGBTQ+ people from BCE through today.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders and Steven Salerno

This emotional narrative shares the biography of gay rights hero Harvey Milk who was one of the first openly gay people to win elected public office in the United States. Milk is one of the better-known figures from LGBTQ+ history and a good basic starter point to educate children on. This book also incorporates the story of the invention of the rainbow flag, which happened in San Francisco in 1978.

Sewing the Rainbow: A Story about Gilbert Baker by Gayle E. Pitman and Holly Clifton-Brown

For more detail on the creation of the first rainbow flag in 1978, this award-winning picture book explains how Gilbert Baker (with some input from Harvey Milk) conceptualized the flag and hand-dyed and sewed it. It also shares how the flag became a worldwide symbol and how important it is today.

Stitch by Stitch: Cleve Jones and the AIDS Memorial Quilt by Rob Sanders and Jamey Christoph

While the AIDS epidemic can be a tough topic to teach to young children, this approach by Rob Sanders focuses on the memorial quilt and how its creator, Cleve Jones, made something special. Especially with this generation having lived through a pandemic and understanding that people get sick, young people may benefit from seeing the way people healed from another pandemic through the largest group craft project ever done.

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History by Joy Michael Ellison and Teshika Silver

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were best friends in New York City who were also world-changing activists. Both transgender women of color, their activism helped the trans community and entire LGBTQ+ community in groundbreaking ways. They worked together in important protests and organizing in the 1960s and 1970s in ways that set the foundation for the entire LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States.

Two Grooms on a Cake: The Story of America’s First Gay Wedding by Rob Sanders and Robbie Cathro

The first same-sex wedding in the United States didn’t happen in the 2000s as you might think. One gay couple was actually able to find a loophole and get legally married in Minnesota in 1971. Their incredible little-known story is told through the perspective of the two cake toppers who watched the whole love story of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell who made history 50 years ago.

LGBTQ+ people contributed to American history and all of world history in important ways and it’s important to celebrate in LGBTQ+ History Month and year-round. For a well-rounded education, use these picture books to teach your children about LGBT history.

Editors' Recommendations

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Child prodigies and chess have long been a source of fascination. From movies like Searching for Bobby Fisher to series' like The Queen's Gambit, people are intrigued by the stories behind children and teens who are able to master the complexities of a game steeped in history. World Chess Champion and grandmaster Bobby Fisher was the youngest American chess champ at the age of just 14 and a grandmaster at 15. In Searching for Bobby Fisher, which is based on a true story, parents are excited to learn their 7-year-old is gifted in the game of chess and could potentially follow in Fisher's path. Chess champions were long dominated by men, which makes the Netflix blockbuster series, The Queen's Gambit interesting because the lead character is a young orphan girl on a quest to become a grandmaster.

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You may need to go out of your way to make sure your bookshelf is appropriately diverse, but this list makes finding those titles easy. Each one of these picture books for babies through elementary school students has one or more LGBTQ+ characters woven into a story that makes a great book on its own. They don't take an educational tone, but rather share engaging and colorful tales that any child will love -- while also happening to incorporate LGBTQ+ people.
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