Note: While there are more and more books featuring LGBTQ+ characters every year, this is still a relatively new genre. Most of the books that have been published center around white male children wearing dresses or white transgender females. I have tried to represent as much diversity as possible on these pages, but you will notice a lack of representation and a need for more narratives!
Reading socially justice oriented books aloud is only effective if it the books are chosen intentionally and the lessons build on each other. Here are some suggestions for books you might read in 2nd-3rd grade classrooms, and situations when it would be good to read them. Almost all of the books on the K-1 list would also be applicable in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. Check those out here.
If you are looking to begin a conversation on gender diversity, begin with this book and follow the sequence of books listed for K-1 classrooms here.
Free to Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas
Second and third graders are particularly ready to read and think critically about gender stereotypes. Here are some suggestions for books that may spark conversations in your classroom:
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tommy dePaola
Henry Holton Takes the Ice by Sandra Bradley
If you have a transgender student in your class, a student who is transitioning, or you would like to read about trans characters, I would suggest these books in this order:
Red: A Crayon Story by Micheal Hall
Who Are You? A Kid's Guide to Gender Identity by Nicole Bedin-Weebly
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert
Backwards Day by S. Bear Bergman
Be Who You Are by Jennifer Carr
A good classroom read aloud while you are reading these books would be George by Alex Gino.
Students in these grades might also be fascinated by historical accounts of people disguising themselves as another gender in order to achieve something. Here are some examples of those kinds of books:
Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi
Toliver's Secret by Esther Wood Brady
The Secret Soldier: The Story of Deborah Sampson by Ann McGovern
Click here for a list of 11 women who disguised themselves as men in history.