A Rainbow Celebration: Gays & Lesbians in Books for Children

The books listed are a sampling of the titles available. Ask your Children's Librarian for further suggestions and tell us which are your favorites

Picture Stories

A Name on the Quilt: A Story of Remembrance.
By Jeannine Atkins. Illus. by Tad Hills.
Atheneum, 1999.
(jPS Atki) Ages 5-9.

Lauren’s family gathers to make a quilt panel in memory of Uncle Ron. An afterword introduces the NAMES Project and includes photographs of several AIDS Memorial Quilt panels.

Uncle Bobby's Wedding.
By Sarah S. Brannen.
Putnam, 2008.
(jPS Bran) Ages 4-7.

Chloe, a young guinea pig, fears she will lose her favorite uncle when he marries, but instead discovers that she will gain an Uncle Jamie.

A B C: A Family Alphabet Book.
By Bobby Combs. Illus. by Desiree Keane and Brian Rappa.
Two Lives, 2001.
(jPS Comb) Ages 2-5.

Children learn their ABC’s in this book featuring multicultural gay and lesbian parented families.

1 2 3: A Family Counting Book.
By Bobbie Combs. Illus. by Danamarie Hosler.
Two Lives, 2001.
(jPS Comb) Ages 2-5.

Children learn to count from one to twenty in this book featuring multicultural gay and lesbian parented families.

King & King.
By Linda De Haan. Illus. by Stern Nijland.
Tricycle, 2001.
(jPS Haan) Ages 4-8.

The queen is ready to retire, and she wants her son to marry and take over. He does, but this royal wedding is not what she envisioned.

Oliver Button is a Sissy.
By Tomie dePaola.
Harcourt, 1979.
(jPS DePa) Ages 4-7.

Life is not easy for a boy who prefers dancing to sports. A companion video, Oliver Button Is a Star, features the author and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus.

Asha’s Mums.
By Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse. Illus. by Dawn Lee.
Women’s Press, 1990.
(jPS ELwi) Ages 3-6.

Asha explains to her class that she really does have two mothers.

The Sissy Duckling.
By Harvey Fierstein. Illus. by Henry Cole.
Simon & Schuster, 2002.
(jPS Fier) Ages 4-8.

Elmer is derided by his father and schoolmates for not being like the other male ducklings until he proves that a “sissy” can be a real hero.

Molly's Family.
By Nancy Garden. Illus. by Sharon Wooding.
Farrar, 2004.
(jPS Gard) Ages 4-7.

With support and encouragement from her teacher and parents, a kindergartener feels proud to display the picture she drew of herself and her two moms at Open School Night.

Antonio's Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio.
By Rigoberto González. Illus. by Cecilia Concepción Álvarez.
Children's Book Press, 2005.
(SPANISH jPS Gonz) Ages 5-8.

Antonio is teased at school because of the unconventional appearance of his Mami’s partner, but Leslie’s love shows him that he has nothing to be ashamed of. (in English and Spanish)

Best Best Colors: Los Mejores Colo res.
By Eric Hoffman. Illus. by Celeste Henriquez.
Redleaf, 1999.
(jPS Hoff) Ages 3-5.

When his two mothers get a rainbow flag, a young boy realizes that all colors are beautiful, especially together. A bilingual English-Spanish story.

Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle.
By Pija Linderbaum.
R & S Books, 2007.
(jPS Lind) Ages 4-8.

Mia is not pleased that her adored uncle has someone else in his life, but one day, when Uncle Tommy is sick, she discovers that Fergus has some good points after all.

Everywhere Babies.
By Susan Meyers. Illus. by Marla Frazee.
Harcourt, 2001.
(jPS Meye) Ages 1-5.

Delightful illustrations show babies in all kinds of loving families, including multicultural and same sex.

Felicia’s Favorite Story.
By Leslea Newman. Illus. by Adriana Romo.
Two Lives, 2002.
(jPS Newm) Ages 2-5.

A girl loves to hear about how her two mothers adopted her from Guatemala.

Heather Has Two Mommies.
By Leslea Newman. Illus. by Diane Souza.
Alyson, 2000.
(jPS Newm) Ages 3-6.

Tenth anniversary edition of the groundbreaking story about a three-year-old who discovers that there are all kinds of families.

Saturday is Pattyday.
By Leslea Newman. Illus. by Annette Hegel.
New Victoria, 1993.
(jPS Newm) Ages 3-6.

Patty reassures preschooler Frankie that she will always be his mom, even though she and his other mom have split up.

Too Far Away to Touch.
By Leslea Newman. Illus. by Catherine Stock.
Clarion, 1995.
(jPS Newm) Ages 5-9.

Zoe’s Uncle Leonard is dying of AIDS, and he and his partner comfort her in this picture book for older kids.

The White Swan Express.
By Jean Davies Okimoto and Elaine M. Aoki. Illus. by Meilo So.
Clarion, 2002.
(jPS Okim) Ages 4-8.

Heartwarming story of four couples, including a lesbian couple, who travel to China to adopt baby girls.

It’s Okay to Be Different.
By Todd Parr.
Little, Brown, 2001.
(jPS Parr) Ages 3-6.

A colorful picture book that enumerates many ways of being different. While same-sex parented families aren’t mentioned, this book can be used to introduce the topic with young listeners.

Tiger Flowers.
By Patricia Quinlan. Illus. by Janet Wilson.
Dial, 1994.
(jPS Quin) Ages 5-8.

Uncle Michael is dying of AIDS and comes to live with his young nephew’s family in this poignant story about remembering loved ones.

And Tango Makes Three.
By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Illus. by Henry Cole.
Simon & Schuster, 2005.
(jPS Rich) Ages 3-7.

Inspired by actual events at New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins become parents to a hatchling named Tango. (also available in Spanish)

By George Shannon. Illus. by Steve Bjorkman.
Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
(jPS Shan) Ages 4-8.

A young boy befriends the single male artist next door, and together they share a love of gardening. While the artist may or may not be gay, it’s possible to read that into the story.

My Two Uncles.
By Judith Vigna.
Whitman, 1995.
(jPS Vign) Ages 4-8.

When Elly is sad that Grampy cannot accept her uncle’s lover, her father explains what “gay” means.

Daddy’s Roommate.
By Michael Willhoite.
Alyson, 1990.
(jPS WiLL) Ages 3-6.

Nick enjoys spending time with his father and his father’s new partner. He serves as best man at their wedding in the sequel, Daddy’s Wedding.1990 Lambda Literary Award.

William’s Doll.
By Charlotte Zolotow. Illus. by William Pène du Bois.
HarperCollins, 1972.
(jPS ZoLo) Ages 3-5.

William wants a doll, but to no avail. His grandmother finally convinces his father that having a doll will help William learn how to be a good father. Fiction


Diving for the Moon.
By Lee F. Bantle.
Macmillan, 1995.
(jF Bant) Ages 9-12.

A sixth grader learns that her best friend, Josh, is HIV positive. The story includes a positive representation of two gay characters.

The Skull of Truth.
By Bruce Coville. Illus. by Gary A. Lippincott.
Harcourt, 1997.
(jF Covi) Ages 9-13.

In a subplot, Uncle Bennie is compelled by the skull to come out at a family gathering, and his nephew learns to accept this news about his favorite uncle.

The Case of the Stolen Scarab.
By Nancy Garden.
Two Lives, 2003.
(jF Gard) Ages 8-11.

Nikki and Travis investigate some mysterious guests at their moms’ bed and breakfast.

Two Weeks with the Queen.
By Morris Gleitzman.
Philomel, 1991
(jF GLei) Ages 9-12.

Colin’s friendship with a young gay man whose lover is dying of AIDS helps him face his brother’s pending death from cancer.

The Misfits.
By James Howe.
Atheneum, 2001.
(jF Howe) Ages 10+.

Twelve-year-old Joe is gay, and along with his friends, a group who call themselves the “Misfits,” he is experiencing his first crush.

Pinky and Rex and the Bully.
By James Howe. Illus. by Melissa Sweet.
Atheneum, 1996.
(jF Howe) Ages 7-9.

Pinky is a boy whose favorite color is pink and whose best friend is a girl named Rex in this story about learning to be comfortable with who you are.

Totally Joe.
By James Howe.
Atheneum, 2005.
(jF Howe) Ages 10+.

Joe, a character from The Misfits, keeps a journal for English class in which he talks about coming out, the response of his family, having a boyfriend who is in the closet, school bullies, and other middle school issues.

Losing Uncle Tim.
By MaryKate Jordan. Illus. by Judith Friedman.
Whitman, 1989.
(jF Jord) Ages 6-9.

Daniel is angry and also fearful that he could catch AIDS from his dying uncle, but his parents are reassuring and allow him to continue his special relationship. 1989 Lambda Literary Award.

Real Heroes.
By Marilyn Kaye.
Harcourt, 1993.
(jF Kaye) Ages 10+.

Twelve-year-old Kevin’s loyalties are torn when his father spearheads a group trying to remove his favorite teacher who is HIV positive.

No Big Deal.
By Ellen Jaffe McClain.
Lodestar, 1994.
(jF MacC) Ages 10+.

When Janice’s favorite teacher is rumored to be gay and her mother joins the movement to oust him, Janice stands up for him.

By Gregory Maguire.
Clarion, 1996.
(jF Magu) Ages 11+.

Thirteen-year-old Hand deals with his father’s death from a heart attack, the return of his absent mother, and his uncle’s illness and death from AIDS.

Alice on the Outside.
By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
Atheneum, 1999.
(jF NayL) Ages 11+.

When Alice’s new friend comes out to her and expresses interest in her, Alice reacts with respect. In the author’s Alice Alone, secondary characters deal with questions about their sexuality.

By Theresa Nelson.
Orchard, 1994.
(jF NeLs) Ages 10+.

With the help of her dad’s lover and an AIDS support group for middle schoolers, Slim comes to accept her father’s death.

The Van Gogh Cafe.
By Cynthia Rylant.
Harcourt, 1995.
(jF RyLa) Ages 9-12.

In “The Star” an elderly film star comes to the Van Gogh Cafe to wait for his true love, a young man he met many years ago.

Living in Secret.
By Cristina Salat.
Bantam, 1993.
(jF SaLa) Ages 10+.

Amelia runs away from her father with her lesbian mother to start a new life, with a new identity, in San Francisco.

Woman Chief.
By Rose Sobol.
Dial, 1976.
(jF Sobo) Ages 10+.

Based on a true story, this is a fictional account of the woman who was recognized as a hunter, warrior and leader of the Crow nation, and who took five wives.

The Duke Who Outlawed Jellybeans.
By Johnny Valentine. Illus. by Lynette Schmidt.
Alyson, 1991.
(jF VaLe) Ages 5-9.

A collection of original fairy tales featuring gay and lesbian characters. 1991 Lambda Literary Award. By the same author: The Day They Put a Tax on Rainbows.

A Clear Spring.
By Barbara Wilson.
Feminist Press, 2002.
(jF WiLs) Ages 9-11.

A twelve-year-old girl becomes involved in an ecological mystery while visiting her aunt and her aunt’s partner.

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun.
By Jacqueline Woodson.
Scholastic, 1995.
(jF Wood) Ages 12+.

A black teen comes to accept his mother’s lesbianism—and the fact that his mother’s lover is a white woman. 1995 Lambda Literary Award.

Unfinished Dreams.
By Jane Breskin Zalben.
Simon and Schuster, 1996.
(jF ZaLb) Ages 10+.

Sixth-grader Jason defends his mentor, the school principal, against the homophobic response of the community when it is revealed that Mr. Carr has AIDS. Non-Fiction


Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Struggle.
By Marilyn Tower Oliver.
Enslow, 1998.
(j305.9066 OLiv) Ages 11+.

Providing historical context, the author discusses issues affecting gays and lesbians, including marriage, parenting, military service, hate crimes, and job discrimination.

What If Someone I Know Is Gay?: Answers to Questions About Gay and Lesbian People.
By Eric Marcus.
Price Stern Sloan, 2000.
(j306.766 Marc) Ages 11+.

Marcus forthrightly answers all kinds of questions that kids and teens are likely to ask.

Who’s in a Family?
By Robert Skutch. Illus. by Laura Nienhaus.
Tricycle, 1995.
(j306.85 Skut) Ages 3-7.

Colorful illustrations depict a variety of human and animal families, including a family with two dads and one with two moms.

By Meredith Tax. Illus. by Marylin Hafner.
Feminist Press, 1996.
(j306.85 Tax) Ages 4-8.

Angie describes the families she knows in her neighborhood, including her friend Susie’s lesbian family.

Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment, and Love.
By Aylette Jenness.
Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
(j306.8507 Jenn) Ages 5+.

Photo-essay depicting a variety of family types including a gay-parented and a lesbian-parented family. (also found under the call number j392.3 Jenn)

Zack’s Story: Growing Up With Same-Sex Parents.
By Keith Elliot Greenberg. Photos. by Carol Halebian.
Lerner, 1996.
(j306.874 Gree) Ages 6-11.

Straightforward photo-essay about the family of an eleven-year-old that includes two moms, and a stepfather and a stepmother.

The NAMES Project.
By Larry Dane Brimner.
Childrens, 1999.
(j362.1969 Brim) Ages 9-12.

A moving history of the AIDS epidemic and the significance of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Part of the Cornerstones of Freedom series.

Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin.
By Susanne Bosche. Photos by Andreas Hansen.
Gay Men’s Press, 1983.
(j392.6 Bosc) Ages 4-7.

A photo-essay about a five-year-old who lives with her dad and his partner. Age-appropriate, positive depiction and discussion of a gay family.

It’s so Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families.
By Robie H. Harris. Illus. by Michael Emberley.
Candlewick, 1999.
(j612.6 Harr) Ages 8+.

A gay and lesbian positive book that explains all about puberty, love, sex, and getting pregnant—including alternative insemination and in vitro fertilization.

It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health.
By Robie H. Harris. Illus. by Michael Emberley.
Candlewick, 1994.
(j613.907 Harr) Ages 8+.

An excellent book that discusses everything kids want to know about sex, including homosexuality, in a positive, matter-of-fact way.

The Harvey Milk Story.
By Kari Krakow. Illus. by David Gardner.
Two Lives, 2002.
(jB MiLk) Ages 5-10.

A picture book biography about the life and death of the gay rights leader and San Francisco City Supervisor. For Adults

For Adults

Lesbian and Gay Voices: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Literature for Children and Young Adults.
By Frances Ann Day.
Greenwood, 2000.
(REF j016.8108 Day)
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