Building an Inclusive Generation of Activists: LGBTQ+ Children’s & YA Books

June 23, 2021

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Happy Pride month! This month, along with many other powerful and important topics, the Purpose team is thinking about the future of the queer community – kids and young adults! It’s well known that access to queer literature in schools all over the world is near impossible, let alone not yet on the curriculum in most schools. So this month at Purpose, we wanted to bring you some of our recommended books for young people that explore the ever-evolving, always inclusive concept of what it is to be queer or how to be a strong ally, all from the comfort of your home! 

Below are some of our favourite books which explore subjects in a wide range of queer culture from being a young trans person, to representing the older queer community! We hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as the young people in our lives did.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet Takes a Breath is a brilliant, funny, and honest journey of self-discovery. When Juliet comes out to her family, it doesn’t go as smoothly as she wanted. She then hopes that an internship opportunity across the country will be the perfect time to figure out everything in her life, only to discover that no one has all the answers. As Juliet delves into what it means to explore her race and identity, she’ll learn how to come out to her family, the world, and herself.

 

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

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. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont…and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light–Bug is Transgender.

Grandad’s Camper by Harry Woodgate

Celebrate love in all its forms, as Grandad tells his granddaughter about the adventures he used to have with Gramps. Grandad’s camper van is hidden away in the garage – now Gramps isn’t around any more, the adventures they shared travelling in it just wouldn’t be the same. As she listens to his wonderful stories, Grandad’s granddaughter has an idea to cheer him up…A perfect story for Grandad on Father’s Day.

Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

A poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate, Alok Vaid-Menon, doesn’t see the world in black and white, They see the world in full color! A world where people have the opportunity to express themselves however they want. This book is a great resource, demystifying what it means when gender is malleable and empowering readers to live their most authentic selves.

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Julián is a Mermaid is a story about a boy and his Abuela. It is a story about  being seen for who we are by someone who loves us. The editor is Katie Cunningham, and the Art Director is Ann Stott. Hardcover, illustrated in gouache on brown paper. Julián is a Mermaid has been translated into fourteen languages: Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Danish, German, Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Japanese, Dutch & Korean.- We love to see it!

Power Poems for Small Humans, a Flamingo Rampant Anthology 

A collection of profoundly uplifting, attitude-shifting poems and illustrations giving children the boost they need to scatter grey clouds and make sure they’re proud. Carefully and lovingly crafted by a diverse selection of writers and artists, there’s validation and affirmation to be found in each and every poetic pronunciation.

 

It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity, by Theresa Thorn; illustrations by Noah Grigni

Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between. This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. With child-friendly language and vibrant art, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity.

 

Colours of Aloha by Kanoa Kau Arteaga; Illustrations by J.R Keaolani Bogac-Moore

The world is bursting full of beautiful colors, from the blue of the fish to the green of the leaves! Even more wondrous are the many names different people of the world have for them. Join these Hawai’ian kids, their older brother, and his boyfriend as the adventure around their island to learn their colors – and a little about love along the way.

 

Darius The Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius, a lonely half-Persian boy with an affinity for Star Trek, travels to Iran to meet his mother’s family for the first time. There, he falls in love: with the city of Yazd, his grandparents, and his new friend, Sohrab.

Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt

Izzy’s family is under the spotlight when her dad comes out as Danielle, a trans woman. Izzy is terrified her family will be torn apart. Will she lose her dad? Will her parents break up? And what will people at school say? Izzy’s always been shy, but now all eyes are on her. Can she face her fears, find her voice and stand up for what’s right?

Proud of Me by Sarah Hagger-Holt

An accessible child-centred story about self-acceptance and the importance of opening up to those closest to you. Becky and Josh are almost-twins, with two mums and the same anonymous donor dad. Josh can’t wait until he’s eighteen, the legal age when he can finally contact his donor, and he’ll do anything to find out more – even if it involves lying. Becky can’t stop thinking about her new friend, Carli. Could her feelings for Carli be a sign of something more? Becky and Josh both want their parents to be proud of them…but right now, they’re struggling to even accept themselves.


Danielle-Louise Watt Operations & Culture Manager, London