Most of us grew up without ever encountering a queer children’s book. Perhaps you were presented with a queer character that no one ever acknowledged as such, or the idea that certain stories were only for boys, and others only for girls. For some readers, these unwritten rules were to the detriment of their self-confidence and well-being.
Today, Pride is our annual reminder to celebrate who we are and those we love—and it wouldn’t be a Toronto Pride without a guest appearance by the fabulous Fay Slift. This month, we asked Fay to cast her spotlight to a glittering parade of books that embody the magic of Pride for young readers.
A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary and Illustrated by Qin Leng
When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all. For ages 4–7.
Be You! written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Be You! is an inspirational celebration of individuality and a joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special. Here, Reynolds reminds readers to “be your own work of art.” To be patient, persistent and true. Because there is one, and only one, you. For ages 4–8.
Princess by Daniel Hack and Isabel Galupo, illustrated by Becca Human
In this modern fairy tale, a strong, brave maiden is invited to attend the prince’s royal ball, but at the dance, she ends up finding true love in a most surprising place.
This book was published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ+ inclusivity and acceptance. For ages 4–8.
M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC by Catherine Hernandez and illustrated by Marsia Firebaugh
It’s Pride Day, and this big loving chosen family is ready to celebrate! See what they do to make their Pride Day special and so much fun — one letter at a time.
Inspired by the author’s daughter’s journey down Yonge Street as the wee tyke on a bike at the Dyke March in Toronto, readers learn about the Pride Marches in celebration of LGBTQ+ families. For ages 4–8.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. He dreams about having space adventures and loves his classroom’s dress-up center — he loves wearing the tangerine dress. But the children in Morris’s class don’t understand. Dresses, they say, are for girls.
With warm, dreamy illustrations, Isabelle Malenfant perfectly captures Morris’s vulnerability and the vibrancy of his imagination. This is a sweetly told story about the courage and creativity it takes to be different. For ages 4–7.
Neither by Airlie Anderson
In the Land of This and That, there are only two kinds: blue bunnies and yellow birds. But one day a funny green egg hatches, and a little creature that’s not quite a bird and not quite a bunny pops out. It’s neither!
This colorful, simple and touching story promotes diversity and offers a valuable lesson to the youngest of audiences: it is our differences that unite us. For ages 4–8.
Not Quite Narwhal written and illustrated by Jessie Sima
Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him! Kelp discovers that he and the creature are actually unicorns.
Not Quire Narwhal is book about fitting in, standing out and the all-encompassing love of family. For ages 4 and up.
Our Rainbow by Little Bee Books
Told in simple, engaging text and paired with bright illustrations, this book (printed on thick paperboard) teaches the youngest of readers all about the colours of this rainbow and the simple acts of kindness that can brighten up our world. For ages 2–5.
Red: A Crayon’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall
Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries. Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along.
This funny, heartwarming, colourful picture book is about finding the courage to be true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way. For ages 4–8.
Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Jamey Christoph
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police in New York City. Though the Inn had been raided before, that night would be different. It would be the night when empowered members of the LGBTQ+ community–in and around the Stonewall Inn–began to protest and demand their equal rights as citizens of the United States.
This true story allows young readers to discover the rich and dynamic history of the Stonewall Inn and its role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement–a movement that continues to this very day. For ages 5–8.
About Fay Slift (JP Kane)
JP Kane is a Toronto-based performer, educator and storyteller. Spending his days teaching kindergarten and weekends cultivating community by creating safe and inclusive spaces for queer and gender variant kids and their families. His alter ego, Fay Slift, has been entertaining the masses for 13 years, captivating audiences at a vast array of festivals and cultural institutions. Her goal is to entertain and empower all kids, no matter their age, by celebrating the things that make each one of them unique and amazing. Fay is one half of the dynamic storytelling duo of Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime, who have been sharing their love of stories since 2016. In 2020, Fay Slift and Fluffy Soufflé were awarded the Ontario Library Association’s Presidential Award for Exceptional Achievement.