Hello, book enthusiasts! Curious about what’s new in the world of queer children’s literature? This is your go-to spot for the latest updates on queer kidlit releases! Every month this feature will include the latest queer inclusive stories – families of all kinds, breaking down gender stereotypes, and just being yourself, no strings attached.
Get those bookmarks ready, because it’s time to dive in!
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Queer Eye Slumber Party by Mark Ceilley, Illustrated by James Jeffers
Join the Fab Five in a group hug as they help one kid love himself for who he is in this officially licensed picture book with Queer Eye.
The Fab Five—Karamo, Antoni, Bobby, Tan, and Jonathan—all have fabulous talents. When they meet a young boy, Mason, who is feeling fearful of inviting friends to a birthday slumber party, the Fab Five embark on a mission to help Mason build self-confidence and to prepare for the most amazing sleepover possible. Karamo helps Mason embrace his love of magic; Antoni shares his favorite baking tips so Mason can make a delicious birthday cake; Bobby and Mason revamp his bedroom to let his personality shine; Tan glams up Mason’s pajamas; and Jonathan offers amazing tips for making Mason look the part of a magician. Mason’s self-love and confidence grow with the help of his five new friends in this inspiring, fun, and delightful picture book officially licensed with Queer Eye.
Not He or She, I’m Me by A. M. Wild, Illustrated by Kah Yangni
In this bright and joyous picture book readers follow a day in the life of a young gender non-binary child.
A child gets ready for a wonderful day. They gleefully get dressed, hug their parents, go to school, and play with friends. All the while, unapologetically reminding themselves that they are and can only be themselves.
The non-binary experience is brightly illustrated as we follow our main character through their typical day. The story’s bouncy and fun refrain reminds all readers of gender neutral pronouns and affirms the identities of non-binary children―encouraging readers to practice empathy for themselves and others.
Desert Queen by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Illustrated by Svabhu Kohli
This picture book biography in verse follows the life of beloved Rajasthani drag performer Queen Harish, known as the Whirling Desert Queen of Rajasthan. Lit by an inner fire and propelled by a family tragedy, Harish defied the gender conventions of middle class Indian life, battled discrimination and intimidation, and eventually grew up to dance with Bollywood movie stars and on stages across the world.
Jyoti Gopal’s rhythmic phrases evoke the particular sounds and beats of the music Harish danced to, and capture the passions and conflicts of his life. The poignant and inspiring tale is interpreted by internationally acclaimed Rajasthani artist Svabhu Kohli in kohl-black lines and shapes and brilliant jewel-like colors.
Mehndi Boy by Zain Bandali, Illustrated by Jani Balakumar
An artistic, fashion-loving boy unlocks a new talent—and learns to stand up for it—in this chapter book perfect for fans of the Sadiq series and Meet Yasmin!
Tehzeeb drew curvy clouds, grand galaxies, squirmy squiggles, and delicate dots. He made charming checkerboards and even perfected paisleys. His practice was finally paying off!
The first time Tehzeeb tries mehndi, his passion for the art form blossoms. Soon, he’s creating designs for all his friends and family, and dreams of becoming the most in-demand mehndi artist in town. So Tez is hurt and confused when his favorite uncle tells him mehndi isn’t for boys. His art brings people joy. How could it be wrong? Tehzeeb doesn’t want to disappoint his uncle. But when a crisis before his cousin’s wedding puts his talents to the test, Tehzeeb must find the courage to be his true creative self.
Jani Balakumar’s expressive, vibrant illustrations bring Tehzeeb’s designs—and his community—to life. This charming, affirming story by debut author Zain Bandali will have you celebrating creativity, artistic expression, and being unapologetically yourself.
Readers can learn more about mehndi at home with activities at the end of the book.
Green by Alex Gino
From the bestselling author of MELISSA, a new book putting a non-binary kid named Green at center stage. Middle-grade superstar author Alex Gino returns to the world they began with MELISSA and RICK with GREEN, the story of a non-binary middle-schooler named Green who comes into their own in no small part by fighting for gender-free casting in their school’s production of THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Eli Over Easy by Phil Stamper
From the acclaimed author of Small Town Pride, Phil Stamper, comes a heartfelt coming-of-age middle grade novel about grief, love, loss, and finding your way forward in the vein of Kate Allen’s The Line Tender and Jules Machias’s Both Can Be True.
The last few months have been pretty tough for Eli. He moved to New York City and left his small town in Minnesota with his extended family and everyone he knows. He hasn’t made any new friends. And his mom died unexpectedly, shattering his whole world. He misses Mom more and more every day, but Dad refuses to talk about her, leaving Eli alone in his grief.
Then Eli finds a stash of instructional cooking videos his mom made, revealing her dream of being a celebrity chef. With the help of the cute new neighbor boy, Mathias, Eli decides to follow his mother’s recipes using her videos. If he can re-create his mom’s special dishes, then maybe a part of her can stay with him forever. But what happens when the videos run out?
Sister from the Multiverse by C. E. Berger, Illustrated by Gabhor Utomo
You, along with your long-lost sister Veronica ― from a parallel universe ― must stop an evil scientist from obtaining technology that will help him take over the multiverse.
In C. E. Berger’s CYOA debut, Sister from the Multiverse, you and your single mom live an ordinary life ― sure, she’s always been a bit secretive about her job, but it’s none of your business. That is, until a girl arrives outside your school one day claiming to be your long-lost sister… from a parallel universe! Does your mom’s top-secret research at her science lab have something to do with it? And can you and your sister figure out how to unite your broken family and stop an evil scientist from using your mom’s technology to take over the multiverse?
Choose Your Own Adventure is the bestselling gamebook series of all time. Empowering generations of children through choice, it is widely commended for its appeal to reluctant readers.
The Vanquishers: Secret of the Reaping by Kalynn Bayron
The Vanquishers are back and ready to defend their town against the undead in this spooky middle grade from New York Times bestselling author Kalynn Bayron.
Boog and her best friends, Cedrick, Jules, and Aaron–aka the Squad–stick together, no matter what. Now that vampires are back, they’ll need to take their Vanquisher lessons more seriously than ever. But who is behind this return of the undead?
When strange disappearances keep happening across their community and the Department of Vampire Affairs not-so-subtly warns Boog’s mom to keep quiet about vampires returning, it looks like uncovering the truth won’t be so easy. The Squad is eager to kick some undead butt, but will they be able to convince their parents they are ready to fight alongside the Vanquishers?
Pride and Persistence: Stories of Queer Activism by Mary Fairhurst Breen
Every day, people face discrimination because of their sexuality and gender identity. The people between these pages have stood up for the queer community, whether on their own behalf or in support of people they love. Some made a difference by confronting injustice; others dared to be fully themselves.
Susan Ursel fought all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada for the right to have books with queer characters in schools. Sparkle Wilson runs an internship program for LGBTQ+ youth in San Francisco that helps them build skills and grow their confidence. Itzayana Gutiérrez Arillo discovered the joy and global community of queer tango. Their stories prove that we can all make the world a little safer, kinder, and more inclusive.
Just a Pinch of Magic by Alechia Dow
Wini’s family of enchanters runs a little bakery, but with the prices of magical ingredients skyrocketing, they’re going under. Desperate to save her family’s business, Wini takes a risk by casting a (sort of illegal) spell that would allow them to gather their own supply of their most needed magical ingredient: Love. But the spell doesn’t work. And Wini soon discovers that it didn’t just not work, it backfired. Badly. Now the whole town is in danger, and the Enchantment Agency is sniffing around for whoever cast the wayward spell.
It’s just been Kal and her dad for as long as she can remember. They’ve weathered everything together, including Kal’s mental health struggles. But just as they’re about to move to a new town for a fresh start, Kal’s grandfather―who mysteriously vanished years ago―has suddenly reentered their lives with a desire to make amends. He joins them in opening their bookstore in the new town, but Kal can’t help but wonder if he has anything to do with the whispers around her new home about wicked magic. And it’s not just the whispers of the magical books in their shop.
When Wini and Kal cross paths―both hoping for the chance to finally make a friend without worrying about their family histories following them―the girls bond over being fellow outcasts. Together they search for the solution to fixing the magic gone awry in their beloved town―and just maybe get their dads to go out on a date.
Elle Campbell Wins Their Weekend by Ben Kahn
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Gamer Girl for middle grade in this hilarious, heartfelt story about a non-binary kid trying to figure out who they are at home, at school, and in the fandom that changed their life.
All Elle Campbell wants to do is meet their hero, non-binary icon Nuri Grena. Well, okay, they’d like a bit more than that — they’d like to learn how to do cat eye makeup, for queen bee Casey to stop critiquing their outfits, and for the finale of Elle’s favorite show to have been less terrible. But meeting Nuri means the most of all.
So when Elle learns that Nuri is coming to town for book signing on Saturday, Elle is thrilled. It’s the perfect chance to meet their hero! Elle’s never been happier since they came out as non-binary, but they have a lot of questions — questions only Nuri can answer.
But Elle’s dreams are dashed when an altercation with a surly substitute teacher lands Elle in Saturday detention. Elle is ready to give up until their two best friends come up with a plan to bust them out of school. A plan so outrageous, it just might work.
Yet that’s just step one. The kids also have to make their way across town with no money, no phones… and no driver’s licenses. But they refuse to give up — even if that means “borrowing” scooters from elementary school loan sharks, or winning a laser tag tournament with a cash prize.
Comic-author Ben Kahn makes their middle grade debut with this zany, heartfelt love letter to friendship, John Hughes movies, and the power of accepting who you are . . . even when there’s no set map for where you’re going.