As I’ve worked on this list, I’ve watched states all over the U.S. pass and sign laws that target transgender children. In some cases, trans children are being kept from playing on the sports teams that align with their true gender. In other cases, it has become a crime to give trans children access to helpful medical treatments. Trans people are under attack for simply wanting to live an authentic life.
You may also enjoy these Books that Defy Gender Stereotypes!
There are lots of things we can do to stand with the trans and non-binary community: we can oppose harmful legislation by calling our senators and representatives, we can support inclusivity in our workplaces and schools, and we can support organizations like GenderNexus or Trans Lifeline.
We can also read books like the ones below with our children. Kids need to learn that trans and non-binary people are people, and they are worthy of love, support, and safety. And kids who are exploring gender identity need to see themselves in the books they read, and have their experiences affirmed. Representation matters, for all kids, no matter how they express their gender.
15 Picture Books with Trans and Non-binary Characters
Peanut Goes for the Gold by Jonathan Van Ness
Peanut is an awesome guinea pig who always does things their own way. So when Peanut sets out to become a rhythmic gymnast, they do it in a way that only they can — with their own style and their own flair. Peanut may do gymnastics (and lots of things!) differently than others, but they do it in the way that makes them happy.
Written by Jonathan Van Ness, the non-binary grooming guru from Queer Eye, this books introduces young readers to a non-binary character and to embracing who they truly are, even if it’s different than everyone else. I recommend sharing this picture book with kids ages 3 and up.
It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity by Theresa Thorn
If you’ve ever wondered how to explain the concept of gender identity to young kids, I highly recommend checking out this book. Theresa Thorn is the parent of a trans child, and she does an excellent job of describing gender identity in a way that children under 8 can understand. The gentle and inclusive illustrations are the perfect complement to the text.
This is definitely a book you’ll want to add to your child’s library!
When Aiden Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff
This unique and beautiful story shares the journey of Aiden, a young trans boy. When Aiden was born, his family thought he was a girl. As Aiden got older, he realized he was a boy, and his parents helped him adapt his life to his new identity.
Now Aiden is going to be a big brother, and he wants to do everything perfectly for his new sibling. But what does being the perfect big brother mean? And what if Aiden makes a mistake?
This book teaches young readers that it’s ok to make mistakes, and that being who you are is the best example you can set. I recommend reading this book with kids ages 4 and up.
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
This book tells the story of Jazz Jennings, who struggled with feeling like she was in the wrong body from the time she was very young. This book is based on Jazz’s own experiences as a transgender child, and tells her story in a simple, clear way. All children will understand and appreciate Jazz’s journey to live her truth.
This honest book is an excellent choice for children ages 3 and up.
Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman
Jessie’s little brother Casey loves everything that sparkles, including wearing sparkly skirts, sparkly bracelets, and painting his nails with sparkles. The adults in their lives don’t seem to mind, but Jessie is not too sure about boys wearing skirts and nail polish. It takes some older kids picking on her little brother to help Jessie realize that Casey should have the right to wear whatever makes him happy.
I absolutely adore this book and am so glad it exists to read with my boys. While Casey does not identify as trans, I wanted to include this book because it shows the joy that comes when we ignore traditional gender roles and embrace the things we love. I recommend reading this book with children ages 5 and up.
Introducing Teddy by Jess Walton
Errol loves his teddy bear Thomas with all of his heart, and he’s sad when he discovers Thomas is sad. Inside, Thomas feels like a girl bear, and would rather be called Tilly. Errol supports his friend, and assures Tilly he loves her for who she is, not for her name or her gender.
This sweet picture book shows the power of unconditional love, and it’s perfect for little ones ages 3 and up.
Jack (Not Jackie) by Erica Silverman
Susan loves being a big sister, and she absolutely adores her baby sister, Jackie. Susan has all kinds of ideas of the ways they can play together, but as Jackie gets older, she doesn’t want to play the games Susan does. Jackie prefers wearing her superhero cape and playing in the mud, rather than pretending to be forest fairies. Eventually, Susan learns that Jackie is a boy, and prefers to be called Jack.
This book deals with the very real emotions that can accompany a loved ones transition, but also shows how the love we have for others extends beyond gender. I recommend this book for kids ages 4 and up.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
All his life, Red has been labeled as a red crayon. But Red isn’t a red crayon; Red is actually blue. Despite being blue under his label, other crayons try to “help” Red be more red. But no matter how hard he tries, Red cannot be red. Red is blue on the inside. And when Red finally removes his label, he’s able to be who he truly is.
This book is a sweet illustration of how powerful it is to be yourself. I recommend sharing this book with kids ages 4 and up.
I’m Not a Girl: A Transgender Story by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi
Written by a transgender boy, this book explores the story of Hannah. Hannah is NOT a girl, but no one in his life understands that. His family, friends, and teachers all encourage him to embrace being a girl, but Hannah knows that’s not right for him. How can he explain to the people in his life that he isn’t the person they think he is?
I love that Maddox Lyons was so willing to put his own experiences into this story and share it with the world. I recommend it for children ages 5 and up.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
This is another story about a child challenging gender norms that I had to include, because I love it so much.
Morris loves a lot of things: his mom’s pancakes, his cat named Moo, and going to school. Morris also likes wearing the tangerine dress at his class dress-up station. Morris’s classmates tell him that boy’s shouldn’t wear dresses, but the tangerine dress makes Morris happy. Soon Morris finds he’s being excluded because of his favorite dress.
I love this book because Morris stays true to himself and teaches his friends something in the process. I recommend reading this book with kids ages 3 and up.
Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History by Joy Michael Ellison
When trans women Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson stood up for their community, they started a revolution. This nonfiction picture book tells the story of the two women who began the modern LGBT+ rights movement. It not only tells about the Stonewall Riots, but also about all the ways Sylvia and Marsha cared for the queer community and those in need, both before and after Stonewall. It includes teaching materials for parents to help continue the conversation.
This powerful picture book is perfect for sharing with children ages 6 and up.
Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope by Jodie Patterson
This picture book, based on the story of the author’s son, is about a child who knows with all his heart that he’s a boy — even if no one else sees it. Penelope shares his frustrations with his mother, and begins a journey to find out what being himself means.
This important book shows the journey of a black trans child, and it’s important both for its representation and its beautiful story. I recommend reading this book with kids ages 5 and up.
What Are Your Words?: A Book About Pronouns by Katherine Locke
Ari is a child who is still figuring out “words,” or pronouns. Sometimes Ari likes she/her pronouns. Other times, Ari prefers he/him pronouns. But on the day of the big neighborhood party, Ari isn’t sure what pronouns feel right. Along with Ari’s Uncle Lior, Ari meets neighbors and learns about their “words.” Ari learns about pronouns like they/them and ze/zir, and learns that it’s ok not to know your pronouns right away.
This book is a great introduction to gender inclusive language, and I recommend sharing it with kids ages 4 and up.
From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom and Kai Yun Ching
Miu Lan is a magical child, born when the sun and moon were both in the sky. Because of this, Miu Lan can take the shape of anything they wish, but they can’t decide what they want to be. The kids at school tease Miu Lan; are they a boy or a girl? Why don’t they fit in? But Miu Lan’s mother reminds Miu Lan that she will love them, no matter who they decide to be. This beautiful story is great for all children, but especially for those who are exploring their gender identity.
The Gender Wheel: A Story About Bodies and Gender for Every Body by Maya Christina Gonzales
This nonfiction book, best for kids ages 6 and over, explains the concept of gender identity in a way that kids can understand. The Gender Team helps readers understand what our current gender binary system is, and how we can start see people outside of that limiting systems. This book also shows the beauty in a wide range of body types. I highly recommend adding this book to your collection!