Reading with my kids is one of my favorite things. It’s part of our bedtime routine every night, and I love finding other moments throughout the day to sit on the couch with my kids and a fun book. There’s a lot of research on the benefits of reading aloud to your kids in terms of cognitive and emotional development (it’s touted as the single best thing you can do!). On top of that, books are also a great way to show your children a bigger world or to help them process and reflect on their own feelings and experiences in the world. To really get all of these benefits, it’s important to have books on your family reading list that celebrate and show diversity. It can feel very validating and inspiring to see someone like you or your family on the pages of a book. And, books that show families and people that are different from your family can help expand your child’s world and build their empathy. Diverse books are great for everyone.
So, to kick off June Pride, we’ve put together a couple of book lists that show and celebrate LGBTQ families and individuals. This first list is a collection of books that celebrate and show families with LGBTQ parents. (Update: be sure to check out our list of books that show and celebrate LGBTQ individuals!) Most are geared for preschool and early elementary ages and are great for reading aloud together. I hope you can snuggle up and share some of these books with your family!
- Harriet gets carried away – I love love love this one! This is a sweet story about a little girl, Harriet, that loves wearing costumes. She is getting ready for her birthday party and goes out with her Dads to run some errands. She wears her penguin costume for their errands and gets caught up in a crowd of real penguins. She follows them out of town (in a hot air balloon!) and gets “carried away” before she realizes that she is pretty far from home. She needs to come up with a plan to get back to the city and her Dads (spoiler alert: her plan involves riding on a whale and getting flown by birds!). It’s a sweet and silly story with beautiful pictures.
- The Adventures of Honey and Leon – This is a story about two dogs, Honey and Leon who live with their Dads in New York City. Their Dads travel a lot, and Honey and Leon really miss them when they are gone. They also feel upset that they can’t keep watch over them when they are away from home. They decide to sneakily follow their Dads on their next trip. They don’t want to get caught, though, so there are a lot of silly disguises as they try not to be recognized on their big adventure.
- Little Pig Saves the Ship – This is a story about Little Pig who is too small to go away to sailing camp with the rest of his family. Instead, he stays home with his Grandpa and Poppy. He spends the week working with Poppy to build and sail a little toy ship. When a gust of wind blows the ship away, Little Pig has to come up with a good way to save the ship from floating away.
- A crow of his own – The is a story about a rooster named Clyde. Clyde comes to Sunrise Farm (that is owned by Farmer couple, Jay and Kevin) after the previous Rooster, Larry, moves away. Most of the animals really miss Larry and they aren’t very welcoming to Clyde. Clyde tries really hard to win them over by trying to be like Larry, but it doesn’t work. The animals are not impressed until Clyde stops trying to be like Larry and decides to crow as himself.
- And Tango Makes Three – This is a story about a penguin family that lives in Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo are two male penguins that build a nest together. The other penguin couples lay and hatch an egg in their nests, but Roy and Silo don’t have an egg. First, they try to hatch a rock and then the zookeeper gives them an egg that needed to be cared for. Roy and Silo care for their egg and soon become parents to sweet baby, Tango. Based on a true story.
- Donovan’s Big Day – This is story about Donovan who is getting ready to be the ring bearer for his Mommy and Mama’s wedding. The story reads like a long list of things that he has been prepared for on this very exciting day – wash his face, comb his hair, rush down the stairs for breakfast, don’t lose the ring, and on and on and on.
- A Family is a Family is a Family – This story starts with a little girl at school. Her class is talking about families and the teacher asks the students what makes their family special. This makes her nervous because she thinks her family is not like everyone else’s (she lives with foster parents). Each student in the classroom takes a turn saying what they think makes their family special and we see many different types of families: families with lots of kids, families with two moms, families with two dads, lots of grandparents, new babies, parents that live apart, kids that live with their grandparents, and foster families. The message is that all families are different and that all families are special.
- Stella Brings the Family – This is a story about Stella who has two Dads and doesn’t know what to do about her class Mother’s Day party at school. When she first tells her classmates that she doesn’t have a Mom, they ask her who does the things for her that their moms do for them. Who makes your lunch? Who reads you bedtime stories? Who kisses you when you are hurt? She tells them that her Daddies do all of those things. She tells them that the problem isn’t that she doesn’t have a mom. It’s that she doesn’t know who to bring to the Mother’s Day party. In the end, she decides to invite her Dads, her grandparents, an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin. At the class party we also see a child with two moms and another classmate with their grandma.
- Heather has two Mommies – Heather is getting ready to go to her first day of school with her two Moms. During story time at school, a discussion starts between the kids about their parents and what they do. The teacher has the kids draw pictures of their families and several family types are represented: Mommy, Daddy, and Brother; Mommy and Sister; Daddy and Papa; Mommy and Stepfather at one house and Daddy at another; Grandma; Mommy, Daddy, and Sister. The message at the end is that “Each family is special. The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.”
This next section has books that don’t really tell a story, but are more like lists of different types of families. Each of these books represents families in a different way (stick figures with button faces, animals, and cartoons). All of these books include families with two moms and two dads, but do differ in the other types of families shown (see notes for each). They all share a version of the message that families love each other and that all are special.
- Families, families, families – this is a fun read with cute animal cartoons to represent the families. It finishes with a silly rhyme and loving message, “No matter if you have a ma, a pa, a hog, or this llama, ten frogs and a slug, a cousin named Doug, a Great Grandma Betty and a Great Aunt Sue, Uncle Hal, Al, and Sal and Uncle Lou too, one stepsis three stepbros, two stepmoms, and a prize-winning rose, a robot butler to serve you tea, or the worlds’ biggest Grandpa or whatever it might be…if you love each other then you are a family.” Families shown are: lots of siblings, no siblings, one dad, two dads, one mom, two moms, mom and dad, married parents, unmarried parents, adopted parents, grandparents, an aunt, step-siblings, cousins, and pets or no pets (“just a plant”).
- A handful of buttons – this book shows the family members as stick figures with button faces. Families shown are: big, small, same color, different colors, mom and dad, mom and dad that live apart (with step families), one mom, one dad, two moms, two dads, adopted, and pets. There is also a page at the end to draw your own family.
- The great big book of families – This book covers more than just the people that make up your family. It has the message that “families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.” It does include a section on who can be part of your family and the families shown are: daddy, mommy, grandparents, two mommies, two daddies, adopted, stepparents, lots of siblings, large families, and small families. It then goes on to talk about many other ways that families can be different: where they live, types of schools that children go to, types of jobs that parents have (or don’t have), types of holidays or vacations, types of foods that people eat, clothes that people wear, pets, celebrations, hobbies, transportation, and how we talk about feelings.
Let us know in the comments what other books you would recommend.