A Children's Book by an LGBTQ2S+ Author: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2021

April 16, 2021 | Jennifer B

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In this category, we are celebrating children's and young adult books by self-identified LGBTQ2S+ authors and creators. Be sure to join us for a special Pride-themed Reading Challenge discussion on Thursday, May 27 at 5 pm where library staff will discuss this very category and more!

The day you begin

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson & Rafael López

Jacqueline Woodson is a phenomenal writer and champion of literature for young people. The library has dozens of her award winning books and it was honestly hard to choose just one to recommend! The Day You Begin, written by Woodson and vibrantly illustrated by Rafael López, was an instant classic in our family. Watch Woodson read and discuss this wonderful book on YouTube as part of an episode of Netflix's Booksmarts: Celebrating Black Voices


Staff Recommendations

Here are some more suggestions on this category from library staff.

Sashsa masha

Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky

I just finished this YA novel last week! Although he isn't sure about pronouns, Alex is slowly thinking that maybe his real name is Sasha Masha. This is one teen's story of coming to the realization that he may be trans. It's different from other books I've read, because Alex hasn't always been sure and the focus is on his internal processing and self-discovery. I'd recommend it for anyone who is or ever has questioned their name, gender identity and pronouns. And for anyone who wonders what that's like. The author is trans, too. Recommended for age 12 and up.

It could also work for:

  • A book about growing older
  • A book about someone unlike yourself
  • A debut book

– Ames, Communications Officer


Frog and toad

Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel

I recommend the Frog and Toad series written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. I've always loved this series and how Lobel manages to make Frog and Toad's socio-emotional learning so charming and engaging. But I gained a new appreciation for the books after reading a New Yorker interview with Lobel's daughter where she talks about how she connects Frog and Toad's themes with her father's coming out process.

– Myrna, Librarian


I promise

I Promise by Catherine Hernandez 

I recommend this picture book by Catherine Hernandez, one of my fave Toronto writers (Scarborough, Crosshairs), and illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware. A gently flowing picture book that takes its shape from a conversation between a small child and their parent at bedtime and brims with love and wit. The kind of book that makes me wish I was still doing Family Storytime programs! As a bonus, you can listen to the author reading from this book. And Catherine does a fantastic Open and Shut them I might add!

It could also work for:

  • a book that made you feel comforted or hopeful
  • a book by two or more people

– Sarah, Library Service Manager


Boy and the bindi

The Boy & The Bindi by Vivek Shraya

A wonderful picture book about self acceptance. Beautifully illustrated by Rajni Perera, about a young boy’s fascination with his mother’s bindi and how, instead of dismissing his curiosity, his mother encourages it and teaches him about the power and magic of the bindi. A great book that opens discussion of gender within culture norms, and finding a beauty within yourself even when you feel there is none.

– Christie, Branch Head



Moomin series by Tove Jansson

I love the Moomin series by Tove Jansson, both the novels and and graphic novels, and the cartoons! There is a timeless, calm and sweet nostalgia about the lives of these white, fluffy, hippo-like creatures. Jansson was known to be queer and her artwork was featured in Helsinki’s 2019 Pride festival.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Stevenson writes a lot of great graphic novels for kids including Nimona and Lumberjanes. Nimona is a shapeshifter and an overachieving villian’s sidekick. The book is full of humour, adventure, romance and fantasy with twists that keep readers engaged.


Lumberjanes is about a group of friends who go camping and solve mysteries as go on adventures, fighting dragons and arm wrestling statues! I never really wanted to go camping until I started reading this series!

– Lucas, Librarian


47000 beads

47,000 Beads by Koja and Angel Adeyoha

This picture book is so beautifully illustrated! Peyton doesn't want to participate in a pow wow because she doesn't feel comfortable wearing the clothes she's expected to wear. Her family gathers together to connect her with cultural traditions and a path to discovering her identity as a Two-Spirit person.

It could also work for:

  • a book by an Indigenous woman or Two-Spirit Indigenous person
  • a book about someone unlike yourself
  • a book by two or more people

– Nalini, Senior Branch Head


Ana on the edge

Ana On The Edge by A.J. Sass

Ana is a figure skater who's never been the "girly type". One day at the rink Ana meets a transgender boy named Hayden. Hayden initially mistakes Ana for a boy which Ana doesn't correct, and they enjoy being seen as a boy when they're around Hayden. This sets off Ana's journey about their gender identity, and they have to decide whether living as their true self is worth risking everything they've worked for.

– Max, Senior Library Assistant



Camp by L.C. Rosen

I've been talking about this book non-stop because it has characters you care about, a wonderful setting where they can be themselves, and addresses some things I've never seen discussed in YA before. It explores one character's internalized homophobia, and also has a scene when a community elder talks about how being out and proud is wonderful, but for some people levels of "outness" might have to be tailored to situation and safety, especially in young people who still rely on their parents. This is some important stuff for its intended audience! And still a super fun read.

– Alice, Senior Collections Specialist


When aiden became a brother

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

This book is a sweet story about Aidan preparing to be a big brother to a new sibling. After Aidan realized he was a trans boy, his family supported him and changed the parts of his life that didn’t fit anymore. Aidan gets really excited to make sure everything is right for his new sibling but learns that making mistakes is okay as they all figure it out together. Bonus: check out a TPL Rainbow Storytime featuring this book.

From the stars in the sky

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom & illustrated by Kai Yun Ching and Wai-Yant Li 

This story is about Miu Lan, a gender variant child, who has trouble finding friends that can accept them for who they are. Throughout the story, as children are confused by and question Miu Lan’s gender, their mother repeats a beautiful, loving reminder that she loves them just as they are. Such a heartwarming story about a child exploring their gender and their parent’s enduring love.

Both of these books could also work for:

  • a book that made you feel comforted or hopeful
  • a book about love (not just the romantic kind)

– Tanya, Librarian


Recommendations from Facebook

These are just a few of the books that the members of our Reading Challenge Facebook discussion group are reading and recommending! You can read the entire thread, even without a Facebook account.



What are you reading or recommending for "a children's book by an LGBTQ2S+ author"? Share in the comments below! Or join us for a special Pride-themed Reading Challenge discussion on Thursday, May 27 at 5 pm! If you miss the live event, you can also catch it as a video replay.