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

Why am I passionate about this?

I adore depictions of the natural world, I've always been fascinated by how humanity interacts, describes and catalogues birds and animals. I’ve collected books on birds for as long as I can remember and sought solace in the golden hues of the gardens and parks of my childhood. My own book is a reflection on what can be described as ‘queer nature writing’, the exploration of an environment that does not judge our identity or gender. The motivation of all my work is to challenge injustice in subtle and surprising ways and my ongoing mission to share my work from Pansy Boy, The Pansy Project, and Birds Can Fly


I wrote...

Pansy Boy

By Paul Harfleet,

Book cover of Pansy Boy

What is my book about?

Pansy Boy is a picture book told in rhymed couplets, a young boy tackles homophobia in school by planting pansies at the site of homophobic attacks, taking strength from the natural world and flowers he loves. The power of his actions empowers his school to value what is delicate and different. The book comes to life in vivid graphic art and comes complete with a personal field guide to the flowers and birds included in its pages.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Julian Is a Mermaid

Paul Harfleet Why did I love 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.

By Jessica Love,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Julian Is a Mermaid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

A glimpse of three women dressed as mermaids leaves one boy filled with wonder and ready to dazzle the world.

"Every choice Jessica Love makes imbues the story with charm, tenderness and humor" New York TImes Book Review

While riding the subway home with his Nana one day, Julian notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train carriage. When Julian gets home, daydreaming of the magic he's seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies and making his own fabulous…


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

Paul Harfleet Why did I love 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. 

By Rob Sanders, Steven Salerno (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

★ An Amazon Best Children's Book of the Year selection

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rainbow Pride Flag with the very first picture book to tell its remarkable and inspiring history!
In this deeply moving and empowering true story, young readers will trace the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today's world. Award-winning author Rob Sanders's stirring text, and acclaimed illustrator Steven Salerno's evocative images, combine to tell this remarkable - and undertold - story.…


Book cover of Stína

Paul Harfleet Why did I love 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.

By Lani Yamamoto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stína as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stina does not like the cold. In fact, she will go to any length to avoid it. Even in summer she will never go out without tights and socks that cover her knees. When winter comes she retreats inside, and invents ingenious devices to protect her from the slightest chill. The temperature drops further and Stina finally succumbs to the lure of her feather duvet and falls into a deep and dreamless sleep from which she is woken by a pounding at her door - two children tumble in blown by the icy wind and Stina learns that nothing can…


Book cover of I Like Animals

Paul Harfleet Why did I love 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. 

By Dahlov Ipcar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Like Animals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Every child loves animals. At some point, all of us have wished for our own zoo filled with beasts and birds; a pet shop with cats, dogs and fish in every shape and colour; a cabin in the woods to spy on brown bears and wild wolves, and a ranch with mustangs to race across the plains! Here's a book for every animal lover. I Like Animals was first printed in 1960 by Alred A. Knopf using a hand-picked colour palette and traditional printing techniques. As Dahlov's original lithographic plates were lost many years ago, Flying Eye Books has worked…


Book cover of The Lost Words

Paul Harfleet Why did I love 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.’

By Robert Macfarlane, Jackie Morris (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Lost Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Penguin presents the CD edition of The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, read by Edith Bowman, Guy Garvey, Cerys Matthews and Benjamin Zephaniah.

All over the country, there are words disappearing from children's lives. Words like Dandelion, Otter, Bramble, Acorn and Lark represent the natural world of childhood, a rich landscape of discovery and imagination that is fading from children's minds.

The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of the poetry of nature words and the living glory of our distinctive, British countryside. With acrostic spell-poems by peerless wordsmith Robert Macfarlane this…


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Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift

By Helena P. Schrader,

Book cover of Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

What is my book about?

Stopping Russian Aggression with milk, coal, and candy bars….

Berlin is under siege. More than two million civilians will starve unless they receive food, medicine, and more by air.

USAF Captain J.B. Baronowsky and RAF Flight Lieutenant Kit Moran once risked their lives to drop high explosives on Berlin. They are about to deliver milk, flour, and children’s shoes instead. Meanwhile, two women pilots are flying an air ambulance that carries malnourished and abandoned children to freedom in the West. Until General Winter deploys on the side of Russia...

Based on historical events, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader delivers an insightful, exciting and moving tale about how former enemies became friends in the face of Russian aggression — and how close the Berlin Airlift came to failing under the assault of “General Winter.”

Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift

By Helena P. Schrader,

What is this book about?

Fighting a war with milk, coal and candy bars....

In the second book of the Bridge to Tomorrow Series, the story continues where "Cold Peace" left off.

Berlin is under siege. More than two million civilians in Hitler's former capital will starve unless they receive food, medicine and more by air.

USAF Captain J.B. Baronowsky and RAF Flight Lieutenant Kit Moran once risked their lives to drop high explosives on Berlin. They are about to deliver milk, flour and children's shoes instead. Meanwhile, two women pilots are flying an air ambulance that carries malnourished and abandoned children to freedom in…


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Interested in winter, mermaids, and zoology?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about winter, mermaids, and zoology.

Winter Explore 23 books about winter
Mermaids Explore 45 books about mermaids
Zoology Explore 11 books about zoology