12 Great Picture Books with Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Characters

By Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park Library
June 27, 2019

For parents, educators, and other adults looking for great resources to share with our youngest readers and listeners, finding age-appropriate books on certain topics is so important—but can feel daunting.

For those seeking picture books about trans and gender non-conforming issues, this can be especially true. While there are books out there, it’s often hard to know where to start, and how to search. To assist in that search, we can get you started with 12 great picture book titles to check out!

I Am Jazz book cover

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Of all the books on this list, this autobiography for kids is the one you may already be familiar with. Based on the real-life experiences of Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who has become the spokesperson for transkids everywhere, this book has an upbeat narrative that ultimately teaches about accepting people for who they are.
 

Jack (Not Jackie) book cover

Jack (not Jackie) by Erica Silverman

A big sister realizes that her little sibling doesn't like dresses or fairies—but likes ties, bugs, and the name Jack. Will the big sister and her family be able to accept Jack’s expression of his identity? This book takes the concepts and makes them simple to understand from a youngster's point of view—this can be a great book to kick off discussion!

Worm Loves Worm by JJ Austrian

When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux? The answer is: It doesn't matter. Because worm loves worm.

Julian is a Mermaid book cover

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

This award-winning story tells the tale of a young boy who encounters a group of costumed mermaids. Our young protagonist's imagination is sent soaring as he embraces his inner creativity and wonder, and sets out to dazzle the world. But will people accept Julián as he sees himself? Paired with utterly luminous artwork that brings magic to the page, this is a treat to read and share—it's unforgettable!

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff

Anxious to get things right, a young transgender boy who has come out to his parents and found acceptance helps his parents prepare for his baby sibling's arrival. When he worries that he won't figure out right away what the new baby will like, his parents assure him it's okay, and that part of being a family means communicating to fix mistakes. With starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist, this positive family story about anticipating a new sibling touches on themes that all children can identify with!

Neither book cover

Neither by Airlie Anderson

Because Neither is unlike both the blue bunnies and the yellow birds of the Land of This and That, it sets out to find a new place where all kinds of creatures are welcome. This simple picture book, a celebration of differences and how they bring us together, is a perfect introduction to how we can create a safe place to share with others—even when they don't fit the usual descriptions we recognize.

They She He Me: Free to Be! by Maya and Matthew Smith-Gonzalez

Pronouns serve as a familiar starting point for kids and grownups to expand ideas about gender, and celebrate personal expression with fun imagery that provides a place to meet and play. Check out this book to begin the exploration!|

A Crayon's Story book cover

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Red has a label that is red. But he's a blue crayon, despite the label he wears. Different objects and other crayons try to help Red learn to be red, but nothing changes the fact that he just can't be red no matter how hard he tries.  Happiness finally comes when Red recognizes the truth—he's blue! This charming book can be read on many different levels, but it's a great way to teach how, sometimes, labels don't match who you are.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom and Kai Yun Ching

Miu Lan is not just any child, but one who can change into any shape they can imagine. The only problem is they can’t decide what to be: A boy or a girl? A bird or a fish? A flower or a shooting star? The kids at school don't know what to make of them, but Miu Lan knows their mother will love them no matter what they are.

The Boy & the Bindi book cover

The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya

A beautiful children's picture book that showcases a young Indian boy's fascination with his mother's bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women. His mother agrees to let him have one, and shares with him the cultural significance of the bindi, allowing the boy to discover more about himself.

Introducing Teddy: A gentle story about gender and friendship by Jessica Walton

A wonderful beginner-level story that introduces young readers to ideas of gender as well as the breaking of gender norms. Errol's teddy, Thomas, is his best friend. One day, Thomas tells Errol he's not a boy teddy, but a girl teddy and would like to be called Tilly. Of course, whether Tilly is a boy or girl, Errol knows they're his best friend.

Be Who You Are book cover

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr

In a brand-new companion to the beloved classic It's Okay to Be Different, author Todd Parr encourages kids to be proud of who they are inside. With emphatic text, bright colors, and a joyful sense of individuality, this book encourages everyone to embrace who they are!


 

Looking for more? Check out "157 Titles to Celebrate the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Literary Landscape" and don't miss the Love & Resistance Stonewall 50 programming and exhibit!