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[Feature image: Photo of a young child in a red dress. They wear a mask and hold a sign that says “Indigenous Peoples For Black Lives.” Behind them, marchers surge forward in support of #BlackLivesMatter]
Queer Rainbow Children’s Books By BIPOC
By Mariposa, #OwnVoices Mohawk / Southern Tagalog Kidlit Curator
It’s Pride Month.
It’s Pride Month during Coronavirus.
It’s Pride Month while we are looking at our skin privilege – and more than ever people are agreeing that Black Lives Matter.
Within this, folks asked me to create a curated book list. I am an openly Two-Spirit queer solo parent who uses They/Them pronouns, parenting a 4 year old who currently uses They/Them pronouns, so here is the list.
All books are written by at least one #OwnVoices openly Queer Rainbow and/or a BIPOC author. I did this because every-time I saw a Queer Children’s Book list online it was either all Queer authors who are white or were mainly white. Many of those lists are not curated by Queer Parents, much less a Two-Spirit Parent who uses they/them pronouns.
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Homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, cissexism were all imported here via colonization. So its important that this first book to share is by two 2-Spirit authors about a Two-Spirit lead character.
This is the only book that I know of that has 2-Spirit authors writing about a Two-Spirit Main Character and Two-Spirit elder!
It is important to show intersections to children with race, gender identity, and culture. This truly is the best book on this list.
You may also like: The Indigenous People’s Day Family Action Toolkit
This book is bilingual Spanish/English and also uses Nahuatl words, an Indigenous language from the area currently known as South Mexico & Central America. The illustrator and author are both Queer people of color.
The main character tells his father “Teach me a song for a boy who loves boys.” A father teaches his son a song to serenade another boy. This is truly a beautiful story of how a father loves his son.
You may also like: Raising Tomorrow’s Fathers – Children’s Books With Feminist Dads
This is all about how folks of all different genders use all different kinds of pronouns. As an adult reader, this might be challenging for you – and that’s great, because we need to dispel the myths and stereotypes that only certain gender expressions must be certain pronouns.
This is a great book for adults and kids to learn from. You can read They, She, He Easy As ABC as a follow up.
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This book is about a gender creative South Asian boy who loves his Mom’s bindi. This book is about his journey wearing a bindi in relation to his gender expression. It is rare we get to read a children’s book about this intersection of being gender creative and South Asian.
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I LOVE how this book is written by Myles E. Johnson, a Queer Black author writing about the intersections of the main character navigating intersections and fears. Jeremiah, the main character wants to go to Mars, because they feel so different than other Black boys that they know. Jeremiah likes the color pink, and other things that Jeremiah feels alienate him from other Black boys that he knows.
This is a book that beautiful breaks down the role of fear, intersections, and difference within one’s cultural group and breaks down binary gender stereotypes associated with masculinity and homophobia within one’s own cultural group.
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Another AMAZING book from Maya Christina Gonzalez! This book offers a very organic and holistic approach to look at gender. This is great for the classroom or just at home. There is also a Playing with Pronouns card deck that me and my little just love to play with!
You might also like: Beyond The Binary – Why We Need Gender Creative Characters In Kidlit
This is an amazing book that describes gender fluidity by an amazing Trans Asian woman author. The main character uses They/They pronouns, a rarity in Children’s picture books.
From birth, this child experienced gender fluidity and their parent supported and loved them. It also shares what its like to feel marginalized at school because of your gender expression and gender identity.
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My family lives unceded Ramaytush Ohlone Land. We need to talk and learn about that with our kids. This book has tribal maps that teaches land acknowledgement. Kids can see and learn how to spell words in Mutsun Ohlone.
This is the only book that is a coloring book and doesn’t have a 2SQTPOC character, but the creator Kanyon Sayers-Roods is Two-Spirit. L. Frank is also a Two-Spirit Elder and was part of the creation process of this coloring book.
Here you go – a short list, but its a beginning right? Its up to all of us to fill out the rest and please comment below what books you would like to see in this list!
You might also like: Talking With Kids About The Gender Spectrum – Inclusive Picture Books For Squeamish Parents
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Center #OwnVoices
You can support Mariposa’s #TwoSpiritStoryTime (venmo @mariposa415 and type in Two-Spirit Storytime in the notes.
Mariposa’s article has been edited for clarity and re-posted with permission & compensation. You can find their original article on Medium. All opinions expressed are their own – and full transparency, BFL hasn’t had a chance to personally screen Large Fears & Indian Canyon yet, but the other recommendations in this list are so solid I’m comfortable boosting them. – Ashia R.