Must Read LGBT Children’s Books Part 2: Continuing the LGBT discussions​

When your little people are ready for more sophisticated story lines with human characters, the following books are an excellent way to continue the conversations you started with the first round of books.

I am Jazz, written by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas.

I am Jazz is the true story of Jazz Jennings, a trans girl. She was born a boy, but soon realizes that she was really meant to be a girl, wearing girl clothes and playing with girl toys. The book does a great job of explaining the concept of “transgender” with vocabulary that is suitable for children. Paired with detailed and lovely illustrations, it follows Jazz’s frustration with being born a boy but feeling like a girl inside, and shows the complications and triumphs of her transition.

Eliza and I both really liked this one. She could relate to the “girly” things that Jazz liked, and commented that she wouldn’t like it if she had to wear boy clothes either. Before reading the story Eliza and I had talked about the concept of being transgender, but the added explanation really helped her to understand the idea. I was glad that the story included the difficulties of the situation, as well as the positives.

Questions to discuss after reading:

  • What does “transgender” mean?

  • What are some of the challenges of being transgender?

  • What is something you have in common with Jazz?

  • What is something that you learned from Jazz?

  • What is one way you could help support a transgender person?

  • What is a question you might want to ask a transgender person?

Molly’s Family, written by Nancy Garden, illustrated by Sharon Wooding.

In Molly’s Family, Molly’s kindergarten class is getting ready for “Open School Night.” Each of the children does something different to help get the room ready: some draw pictures, some clean, some decorate. Molly draws a picture of her family, which includes her two moms. Some other children share their various family makeups and question whether or not a family can actually have two moms, which upsets Molly. That night, Molly asks her Mommy and Mama Lu for clarification and they explain to her that there are lots of ways to be a family. This story has more detailed and the colored pencil illustrations are realistic and very well done. In addition, there is more text on each page, which allows for a more sophisticated storyline to develop.

This book had a more serious tone and Eliza was frustrated that the other kids were picking on Molly. I was glad that she recognized that they weren't being nice and that there are lots of different ways to be a family (which it also states explicitly in the story). I do wish that the teacher had been able to have more of a discussion with the kids about Molly having a Mommy and a Mama Lu, but given that the book is over 10 years old, I think it's a great start.

Questions to discuss after reading:

  • What do you think about Tommy saying “You can’t have a mommy and a mama”? What could you say if you heard someone saying that?

  • What is something that we could learn after reading about Molly’s family?

  • Do you know anyone with two mommies?

  • What could you say to someone with a family that is different than yours?

Stella Brings the Family, written by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown.

Stella Brings the Family is about Stella and her two dads. Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day celebration and Stella isn’t sure what to do because she doesn’t have a mother. When she shares this with the other students, they ask her all sorts of questions, like “But who packs your lunch like my mom does for me?” and “...who kisses you when you are hurt?” Another student suggests that Stella bring her whole family, and though she is still worried because she doesn’t have a mother, the party ends up being lots of fun for everyone.

Eliza liked this story, and when the kids were asking Stella all of the questions, Eliza commented “It’s just like when you have a mommy. It’s the same,” which I thought was pretty great. We enjoyed the illustrations and I thought it was neat that certain words/phrases were written in a different color font to help them stand out. I also appreciated that this book addressed gender roles and gave an opening for a discussion about how moms and dads can both care for kids equally.

Questions to discuss after reading:

  • Stella has lots of special people in her life. What kinds of things do you do with your family?

  • What are some special things that your dad does for you?

  • Do you know anyone with two daddies?

  • What could you say to someone with a family that is different than yours?