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 K-1 classrooms, and situations when it would be good to read them.
If you're looking to start conversations about gender, start with this book:
Red by Michal Hall is a great conversation starter that is not explicitly about gender, but about being different. This book speaks to the many ways in which children feel different on the inside, and how this sometimes doesn't match how they are perceived on the inside. Very well-intentioned friends of the crayon attempt to "fix" them. They ponder over how this could have happened, what might have gone "wrong". One day he meets a new friend who asks him to draw an ocean. The crayon begins to draw blue jeans, blueberries and blue whales and discovers that they aren't red, they're blue!
Possible discussion questions while/after reading Red:
- What do you notice about the crayon? Could it draw something red if it tried?
- Have you ever felt like people think you're something that you're not?
- Have you ever had people make guesses about what you like and what you can do just by looking at you on the outside?
- How do you think the crayon feels when they can't draw all of the things people want them too?
- How did the crayon feel once they started drawing blue things?
After reading Red, you can build on the conversation with this next book. If you have had a particular child made fun of for wearing something different, or if a child comes in wearing an outfit not typically associated with their gender, this book would be a good place to start.
Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman is a book with simple text and colorful illustrations. Jacob loves to play pretend and he loves to wear dresses. He loves the way they feel. At home, he tries on a towel as a dress and asks his family if he can wear it to school. Finally, his mom helps him make a wonderful purple dress that swirls.