The best children’s picture books with LGBTQ+ characters

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote Uncle Bobby’s Wedding in 2005, just after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. It was published in 2008 and immediately became the target of anti-LGBT attacks. Many people attempted to ban it. Some went so far as to burn it – and then they wrote to tell me they had. It was one of the most challenged books in the country that year, and it was one of the 100 most-challenged books of the decade. I have been deeply involved with LGBTQ+ picture books ever since. 


I wrote...

Uncle Bobby's Wedding

By Sarah S. Brannen, Lucia Soto (illustrator),

Book cover of Uncle Bobby's Wedding

What is my book about?

Chloe’s favorite uncle is getting married, and she’s not happy about it. But after a magical day with Uncle Bobby and his boyfriend, Jamie, Chloe realizes she’s not losing an uncle, but gaining one.

​Produced in coordination with GLAAD, this adorable picture book is a positive example of same-sex marriage and a celebration of family.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mommy, Mama, and Me

Sarah S. Brannen Why did I love this book?

This is a lovely little book, told in rhyming couplets, about sweet everyday moments between a child and one or the other of its mothers. At the end, both moms tuck the child, whose gender is not specified, into bed. The ink and watercolor illustrations capture each moment with positive emotions. 

By Lesléa Newman, Carol Thompson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mommy, Mama, and Me 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?

Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesléa Newman [Tricycle Press, 2009] Board book [Board...


Book cover of Maiden & Princess

Sarah S. Brannen Why did I love this book?

This sweet story told in rhyme begins with the usual trope of a royal family holding a ball to find a bride for the prince. One maiden, the bravest in the land, is not thrilled. The racially diverse cast of characters, illustrated in bright colors, find an ending satisfying to all when the maiden falls in love with the prince’s sister.

By Daniel Haack, Isabel Galupo, Becca Human (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Maiden & Princess 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?

In this modern fairy tale, a strong, brave maiden is invited to attend the prince's royal ball, but at the dance, she ends up finding true love in a most surprising place.

"The prince is smart and strong,"

she confided in her mother.

"But if I'm being honest,

I see him as a brother."

Her mother said, "Just go!

And have a bit of fun.

The prince might not be right,

but you could meet the one."

Once in a faraway kingdom, a strong, brave maiden is invited to attend the prince's royal ball, but she's not as excited to…


Book cover of When Aidan Became a Brother

Sarah S. Brannen Why did I love this book?

Everyone thought Aiden was a girl, but he hated the sound of his name and felt like his room belonged to someone else. Aiden knows he is a boy, and although it’s hard to tell his parents, he does. Spare, straightforward text and detailed illustrations will bring young readers along on Aiden’s journey as he gets ready to be a big brother to a new baby.

By Kyle Lukoff, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked When Aidan Became a Brother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This sweet and groundbreaking picture book, winner of the 2020 Stonewall Book Award, celebrates the changes in a transgender boy's life, from his initial coming-out to becoming a big brother.Best Books of 2019, Kirkus Reviews
Best Books of 2019, School Library Journal
Editors' Choices for Books for Youth, Booklist
Best of the Best Books of 2019, Chicago Public Library
Starred review, Kirkus Reviews
Starred review, Publishers Weekly
Starred review, Booklist
Starred review, School Library Journal

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and…


Book cover of Worm Loves Worm

Sarah S. Brannen Why did I love this book?

Worm and Worm decide to get married, with a supportive group of bugs. They have a few problems: they don’t have fingers, so how can they wear rings? And they both want to be the bride! In fact, they both want to be the groom, too. “We’ll just change how it’s done,” says Worm, and so they get married. A cute and funny story with delightful illustrations.

By J.J. Austrian, Mike Curato (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of And Tango Makes Three and The Sissy Duckling, this irresistible picture book is a celebration of love in all its splendid forms from debut author J. J. Austrian and the acclaimed author-illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Mike Curato. You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm ...and a worm. When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know-who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux? The answer is: It doesn't matter. Because…


Book cover of Jerome by Heart

Sarah S. Brannen Why did I love this book?

The main character, a little boy named Raphael, loves his friend Jerome. And Raphael loves Jerome for good reasons – Jerome makes him feel protected, Jerome holds his hand, “Jerome always sees me, even when he’s with his friends.” Despite a little opposition from Raphael’s parents, this is the warmest of books about how sweet and life-affirming the love between two children can be.

By Thomas Scotto, Olivier Tallec (illustrator), Claudia Bedrick (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Raphael loves Jerome. I say it. It's easy."
This story follows a little boy named Raphael, whose daily rhythm is steeped in his immense affection for his friend Jerome. The two boys share jokes and snacks and plan future adventures to the Himalayas. Even when Raphael's constant talk of Jerome is driving his parents crazy, he remains steadfast: "Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It's easy." And the truth is, when he's with Jerome, Raphael feels happy, liked, and understood- even special. Thomas Scotto's simple, strong, and insightful prose and Olivier Tallec's delightful, expressive illustrations give much emotion and…


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Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

Book cover of Acquaintance

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historical fiction writer Gay male Reader History buff Curious human

Jeff's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

As a young doctor, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the death of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the War, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career.

Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love. More than a gay love story, Acquaintance is a deep dive into gay and lesbian history based on extensive period research of the 1920s.

Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

What is this book about?

As a young surgeon, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the loss of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the war, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career. Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love.
Acquaintance is a…


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