The best LGBTQ+ picture books to share

Charlotte Sullivan Wild Author Of Love, Violet
By Charlotte Sullivan Wild

Who am I?

Hello! I’m a picture book author and former educator and bookseller. I also spent over a decade as a professor of Children’s Literature. More importantly, I’ve spent hundreds of hours of enjoying picture books with kiddos on my lap or circled up for storytime. (Is there a greater joy?) I was also a queer kid at a time when acknowledging LGBTQIAP2+ kids exist was unthinkable. But that is changing! Especially every time we buy, check out, and share diverse picture books with kids. Or treasure them for ourselves. I do!


I wrote...

Love, Violet

By Charlotte Sullivan Wild, Charlene Chua (illustrator),

Book cover of Love, Violet

What is my book about?

Only one person makes Violet’s heart skip! Of all the kids in Violet’s class, only one leaves Violet speechless: Mira, the girl with the cheery laugh, who races like the wind. If only they could adventure together! But every time Mira comes near, Violet goes shy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Violet is determined to show Mira just how special she is!

Charlene Chua’s luminous watercolors bring to life this tender #LGBTQ+ picture book about friendship, love, and the courage it takes to share your heart–even when it’s pounding!

The books I picked & why

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Red: A Crayon's Story

By Michael Hall,

Book cover of Red: A Crayon's Story

Why this book?

I’ll never forget reading this tale of a blue crayon in a red wrapper, struggling to draw red. I stood in the children’s book shop, a grown lesbian, feeling the hair on my arms rise, my eyes fill. This story is full of humor as fellow crayons and art supplies offer advice: “he wasn’t warm enough” “He’s got to press harder.” But his struggle also breaks our hearts: “I think he’s lazy,” one crayon says. “The masking tape thought he was broken inside.” The dread of feeling that you can’t be what everyone wants is visceral. Clearly a perfect allegory for gender identity, this story also rang through me. Then, Red tries to draw an ocean. And “It was easy!” Soon he was “really reaching for the sky.”


A Church for All

By Gayle E. Pitman, Laure Fournier (illustrator),

Book cover of A Church for All

Why this book?

As a pastor’s kid, this light, lyrical book about a church community gathering awakens my earliest memories: the bells and banners, candles and choir, warm greetings, and toddler wiggles. This community offers something many of us lacked: “A church for all!” From the first image of a mixed-race queer family waking early for church to the assembling “Weak and healthy/ Neat and messy/ Poor and wealthy/ Plain and dressy” chatting and worshiping together—this brightly illustrated book captures a true spirit of inclusion. Like many queer people, I had to leave my first faith community. Later I was amazed to find houses of faith like this one. I even married a pastor. Young me couldn’t have imagined living out, opening a service with a book like A Church for All.


Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History

By Joy Ellison, Teshika Silver (illustrator),

Book cover of Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History

Why this book?

In this gorgeous, accessible story, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, two transgender women meet on the street and become fast friends. They never knew whether they would eat, find shelter, or face violence from "Alice in the blue dress" (the police). Yet their friendship and generosity radiate throughout this story. They freely give their last dollar. Worry about kids without roofs. On Marsha’s birthday in 1969, they begin the “beautiful” revolution at the Stonewall Inn by refusing to be arrested for wearing dresses. This courage, this determination to create safe housing, this joyful zeal for equality inspires me still. Transgender people still face so much danger, something I've learned from people I care about. Sylvia and Marsha inspire me to revolt with love.


Sharice's Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman

By Sharice Davids, Nancy K. Mays, Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (illustrator)

Book cover of Sharice's Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman

Why this book?

A few years before I came out, I remember marveling at the boldness of certain women like Frida Kahlo, Toni Morrison, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who expressed so freely. With jealous awe I wished I could do that. But how could I? I came from a family of clergy people! In time, however, those brave women inspired me as I came out loud. The remarkable autobiographical story of Congresswoman Davids has that same power. She grew up always speaking, yet also listening, including to those often ignored. A lesbian and member of the Ho Chunk Nation, which means People of the Big Voice, she saw the lack of minority representation in Congress and boldly stepped forward. Now she listens and raises her Big Voice loud in service of others! So inspiring!


Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

By Christine Baldacchino, Isabelle Malenfant (illustrator),

Book cover of Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

Why this book?

A life-long lover of dresses that “swish” and “crinkle,” I’m in complete solidarity with Morris Micklewrite in his choice of the tangerine dress and shoes that “click” at dress-up time. But his classmates, hung up on narrow gender rules, don’t agree. Yet this story is not about Morris’s gender. It’s about his fondness for a color that reminds him of tigers and the sun, his love of playing spaceship and visiting elephants in his imagination. Even before I understood I was queer, I gravitated to peers who I now know are queer, too. Yet we bonded over play, singing, imagining adventures together! That’s what mattered. By this story’s end, some of Morris’s peers also realize it’s not gender rules that matter, but the greatness of the adventures you share! 


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