We are so lucky to be raising children in 2020 and easily find the best books about gender for kids- in an era when their self-expression is supported and celebrated.
Further, there is a growing body of books out there normalizing kids who might not conform to archaic gender norms. (And normalizing is, indeed, the intended word.)
The following best kids’ books about gender have been instrumental in our household for my children to forge their own way and identities.
These books are for gender, not sexuality. There’s another list for sexual identity (pending!)
Further, if your child seems to be even remotely gender non-conforming, you might lack the words for discussion. And there might not even be anything to discuss. But books help give EVERYONE words to comprehend.
Furthermore, these are also great books for kids who are gender conforming, as well. (And their parents.)
This book doesn’t hit you or your kids over the head with gender identity, but it does illustrate marvelously how being mis-labeled is confusing, but also easily solved. It’s a shrug, a celebration, a realization what’s on the outside does not need to dictate and define what’s on the inside. Grown-ups struggle with preconceived notions. Children don’t. But everyone benefits from this most wonderful book. * Particularly great for kids who are gender conforming.*
I particularly loved this book about a boy who uses logic and his own reasoning to defend his love of pink jammies. It’s too bad he feels the need to defend, but it’s a great lessons in sticking up for one’s self. Further, the logic is sound for a society accustomed to saying “pink is for girls and blue is for boys.” Bravo on this one. * Another great one for gender conformers.*
This is the book upon which my gender non-conformer fixated and adored. It addresses the teasing, hurt feelings and resistance. It was my child’s personal narrative wrapped up in a beautiful book. While I try to avoid books that focus on teasing so that my kid is never led to believe teasing is part of her destiny, this one beautifully shows that may happen, but this is also your super power. So soar, little kid. Soar.
Kind of like Jacob’s New Dress, this focuses on a young boy dealing with the stigma of wearing a dress at school. I wish it didn’t focus on the inevitability of being teased, but again, the story focuses on another wonderful mother who imbues her child with confidence to boldly strut and proudly wear a dress.
Who are You? by Brook Pessin-Whedbee and Naomi Bardoff
This one’s a bit text book. Like…an actual text book. But luckily, little kids don’t know text books from romance novels. Pictures and colors? Bonus. Thought-provoking text? Double bonus. This one is a wonderful book for discussion and asking questions. It also has no need for negativity or thought so bulling or razzing. Triple bonus. There are pictures that allow kids to identify what they “like” not who they “are”. Plus, there’s an extended parents’ guide for discussion and a fun color wheel kids can play with and line up what might (or might not be) their identity. *This one’s great for everyone.*
Todd Parr clearly gets it. This one’s message is profound, but the writing and pictures *might* be for younger readers. Still – universal messages of “being you” are for all of us.
From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea By kai Chen Thom, illustrated by Wai-Yant Li & Kai Yun Ching
For those hoping for an ethereal, poetic approach to discussing love, acceptance and expression. A beautiful book that takes you to other worlds.
One of the few books featuring a child of color (which is sad…we need so many more of these!) It’s a wonderful story of Julián and his grandmother who fully supports her child’s creative expression.