The best picture books that celebrate curiosity, nature and LGBTQ+ acceptance

The Books I Picked & Why

Julián Is a Mermaid

By Jessica Love

Book cover of Julián Is a Mermaid

Why this book?

Julian is a Mermaid is a beautiful story of a little boy that sits outside the usual depictions of maleness. With few words and lavish illustrations this book elegantly shares the joy of imagination and dressing up. When I was writing my own book I wanted to contribute other versions of what it is to be a boy in a world dominated by a narrow definition of maleness. This book celebrates acceptance and creativity, a book I wish I could have seen when I was a young child, struggling with my own version of maleness.

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Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

By Rob Sanders, Steven Salerno

Book cover of Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Why this book?

This picture book shares the heartwarming yet tragic story of Harvey Milk in an accessible and playful way, bright colourful illustrations reveal the story of an activist and their mission for equality and his search for a symbol of the LGBTQ+ family. The story of the Rainbow Flag is an essential element of LGBTQ+ history and this is told in a way that doesn’t alienate the reader. The simple quest for equality is at the heart of our quest for acceptance and I believe early exposure to this story – to all – helps plant a seed of understanding in every reader. 

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By Lani Yamamoto

Book cover of Stína

Why this book?

This is a book that communicates a sense of childhood resilience that I adore, the style of illustration is paired-back and minimal with an aesthetic that is evocative and nostalgic. The story of a child who can’t bare the cold speaks to my own aversion to cold weather. Yamamoto depicts a child who is inventive and brave and overcomes her aversion by creating her own solutions to the challenges she faces and eventually she goes on to embrace the world. With diagrams and recipes, this book is a wonderful way of promoting intelligence and the creativity to solve one’s own problems.

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I Like Animals

By Dahlov Ipcar

Book cover of I Like Animals

Why this book?

First published in 1960 this is a beautiful example of illustration in book form. From my contemporary perspective as an animal lover there is a sense that this book celebrates the tendency we have as humans to capture and own animals, with zoos, farms, and pet shops filling almost every page. To me, this book celebrates a naïve adoration and love of nature that doesn’t necessarily fit with the modern need to protect and preserve the natural habitats that humanity has spent generations pillaging. I’d like to think that this is a beautiful conversation starter about how we can best appreciate the natural world. 

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The Lost Words

By Robert MacFarlane, Jackie Morris

Book cover of The Lost Words

Why this book?

This giant book draws attention to the lost words of nature through epic illustration and design, rich watercolour depictions of the natural world are combined with gold backdrops and beautiful poetry. Focusing on British wildlife the book invites the reader to recall once familiar terms, a ‘charm of goldfinches’, the otter, the weasel, and the wren are celebrated, names of wildlife countryside once familiar that now seem to be fading as climate change impacts the populations of our most beloved species. A beautifully large portfolio of art and words that is a wonderful ‘book of spells.’

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