A photo of a selection of children's books with LGBTQIA+ themes and characters on a yellow background with multicoloured shadows

Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

The Last Firefox by Lee Newbery & Laura Catalán (2022)

Charlie Challinor is finding life quite overwhelming at the moment. He’s getting bullied at school, his dads are looking into adopting another child, and Charlie is scared of pretty much everything. Posing the question, how is he going to look out for his new little brother or sister when he can’t even stand up for himself?! But when Charlie unexpectedly becomes the guardian of firefox cub Cadno (the last of his kind) and must protect him from an evil hunter from another world, Charlie discovers he has more fire in his belly than he thought. This debut tale from author Lee Newbery is a fantastic heart-warming fantasy and draws inspiration from Newbery’s own experience of going through the adoption process with his husband.

Recommended reading age: 7-12 years old

My Magic Family by Lotte Jeffs & Sharon Davey (2022)

In this new picture book from Lotte Jeffs, one little girl with two mummies explores the different ways all families are magical. The fun rhymes and gorgeous illustrations by Sharon Davey make this a lovely story to read together. My Magic Family is a book that will resonate with all children and will open up conversations about different families.

Recommended reading age: 0-5 years old

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. by Jen Carney (2021)

In The Accidental Diary of B.U.G., we follow Billie Upton Green over an eventful couple of weeks. First of all, a new girl called Janey McVey joins her class and she’s a bit of a show-off; then someone steals a purse at Billie’s school, and then, most importantly of all, Billie’s mums announce they are getting married! As well as being hilarious in her diary entries, we love Billie’s no-nonsense approach when it comes to questions (particularly those from Painy McVey) about her mums; "Mum says narrow-minded people sometimes take more time to get on with."

Recommended reading age: 7-10 years old

Little Seahorse and the Big Question by Freddy McConnell & Rosalind Beardshaw (2022)

In this new picture book from journalist and seahorse dad Freddy McConnell, seahorses Papa and Little One explore a very important question: what do we need? And so over the course of a day they list all the things they need; clean water, friends to play with, food to eat, and most importantly, they need each other. McConnell wrote this touching book to show that all different types of families have everything they need, no matter how they are created or who is in them.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

My Daddies by Gareth Peter & Garry Parsons (2021)

Inspired by his own experience of adopting with his partner, gay dad Gareth Peter wrote My Daddies so his sons – and other children with LGBTQIA+ families – could see themselves represented in books. Illustrated by fellow gay dad Garry Parson, the story follows a young girl who loves reading and goes on amazing adventures with her two dads. This is a lovely picture book to show children that families come in all shapes and sizes. 

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens (2018)

Having left lots of thoughtful hints throughout the first six books of the Murder Most Unladylike series, Robin Stevens officially reveals in Death in the Spotlight that super-sleuth Daisy Wells is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Daisy and Hazel are off to the Rue Theatre in London to try their hand at acting. But as luck would have it, they end up having to solve a murder mystery! Daisy also falls hard for one of the suspects and fellow actors, Martita. After confessing her feelings in a heartfelt conversation with best friend Hazel, Daisy becomes determined to prove her first love’s innocence.

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

The Whispers by Greg Howard (2019)

Fans of Bridge to Terabithia will love this coming-of-age story that centres on 11-year-old Riley. Riley is gay (he has a big crush on an older boy called Dylan) and often finds himself on the receiving end of taunts from his classmates. But that’s the least of his worries at the moment – what Riley is most concerned about is his mum. She disappeared a few months ago and still hasn’t been found, despite the police’s best efforts. So, Riley takes matters into his own hands. It’s said that the Whispers – magical fairies – will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Accompanied by his best friend Gary, the pair head off on a camping trip to find them...

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt (2020)

Teenage life can be pretty tough – particularly for almost 14-year-old Frankie. Her mum is seriously ill with MS, her dad has left their family, and Frankie has to contend with former friend Sally and her gang of bullies every day at school. But following a particularly heated altercation, Sally does a U-turn and rekindles her friendship with Frankie. Although suspicious at first, Frankie is happy to be friends again. But the more time they spend together, the stronger Frankie’s feelings get. Is she falling in love with Sally? This is a wonderful first love story from LGBTQIA+ author Jacqueline Wilson and great for young teens who are beginning to discover their own identity.

Recommended reading age: 11+ years old

The Extraordinary Life of Alan Turing by Michael Lee Richardson & Freda Chiu (2020)

Mathematician and scientist Alan Turing is most famous for decoding the secret messages sent between enemy soldiers in the Second World War. Thanks to him, the Allies were able to defeat the Nazis. In 2014, there was even a film made about him called The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Despite all of his amazing achievements, sadly Alan faced persecution for being gay, as at the time in the UK it was considered a criminal offence. However, in 2009, 30,000 people signed a petition asking the British government to issue a public apology for the way Turing was treated at the end of his life. The Queen then granted Turing a pardon for his conviction, and in 2017 the Alan Turing law was passed so that anyone who was convicted of being gay in the past would be pardoned.

Recommended reading age: 7-12 years old

JoJo and BowBow Take the Stage by JoJo Siwa (2018)

In the first tale of the Adventures of JoJo and BowBow series, JoJo and her ever-faithful Yorkie sidekick are getting ready to perform for their neighbourhood's block party. The pair are so excited. But then their costumes get slimed, the mics stop working and someone gets cold feet. Will they manage to put on a show? Former Dance Moms star, singer, actress, and author JoJo Siwa came out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community at the start of 2021 and introduced the world to her girlfriend. Go JoJo!

Recommended reading age: 5-10 years old

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson (1948)

The Moomintroll family is back for another adventure in the third book of the Moomin series. First of all, Moominpappa finds a magic hat that turns out to have some unusual powers. And then two strange creatures called Thingumy and Bob turn up in Moominvalley, having stolen the King’s Ruby from the ghost-like Groke. The Moomins are beloved the world over, but did you know that there are many queer themes within Tove Jansson’s famous Moomin universe? One example being the characters Thingumy and Bob – they are actually based on Jansson and her first love Vivica Bandler.

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

Forever Star by Gareth Peter & Judi Abbot (2021)

From LGBTQIA+ author Gareth Peter comes another touching picture book that’s ideal for bedtime. Forever Star follows Tim and Tim, who long for a child they can love and raise together – so they set off into space. The journey will be perilous, but they are not afraid to dodge meteor showers and zoom past supernovas until they find their very own star child. Judi Abbot’s charming illustrations perfectly complement Peter’s adoption-themed story. 

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

The Extraordinary Life of Freddie Mercury by Michael Lee Richardson & Maggie Cole (2020)

Freddie Mercury is the iconic lead singer of the British rock band Queen, but he was originally born Farrokh Bulsara. At the age of 17, following the Zanzibar Revolution, he and his family moved to London, and it was here that he met his bandmates. Queen went on to have a hugely successful career, selling millions of records, and their set at Live Aid in 1985 went down in history as one of the greatest live rock performances. Mercury was also a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and had relationships with women and men throughout his life. Fun fact: Celebrate Bisexuality Day takes place in September, around the time of Mercury's birthday, as a tribute to him.

Recommended reading age: 7-12 years old

Magnus Chase and The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (2016)

Rick Riordan is well known for including multiple characters under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella in his books. In the Magnus ChaseHeroes of Olympus, and Trials of Apollo series we meet a variety of gay, trans, bisexual, non-binary, and pansexual characters. One of our favourites is the genderfluid child of Loki, Alex Fierro, who first appears in Magnus Chase and The Hammer of Thor. Magnus and his friends are informed that Thor’s hammer is missing AGAIN, and they need to retrieve it quickly, otherwise the mortal world will be in danger of a giant invasion.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

We Are The Beaker Girls by Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt (2019)

Fans of Tracy Beaker have always speculated that Tracy’s foster mum Cam was a lesbian despite this never being explicitly mentioned in the first book, The Story of Tracy Beaker. This is likely because when it was first published in 1991, clause Section 28 was still in place in the UK, meaning that stories with LGBTQIA+ characters could be banned from school libraries. In My Mum Tracy Beaker, we see Cam getting close to Mary aka Miss Oliver, who is also Jess’s teacher, but it’s not until We Are The Beaker Girls that Jess refers to her as Cam’s partner!

Recommended reading age: 8-11 years old

Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn (2017)

YouTuber and author Connie Glynn is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, so it comes as no surprise that the main characters in her Rosewood Chronicles series are too. In Undercover Princess, we’re introduced to Lottie Pumpkin and Ellie Wolf. Lottie is an ordinary girl who has longed to be a princess, whereas Ellie is an actual princess who wants to be ordinary. When the pair meet at boarding school they decide to swap identities! But someone is onto their secret... 

Recommended reading age: 9+ years old

Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean It by Susie Day (2019)

LGBTQIA+ author Susie Day's books are defined by natural inclusivity, and the way they deal with complex topics in a sensitive and relatable way in beyond impressive. Day's touching story Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean It explores how boys are shaped into men, and that there are many ways to be a man. Things have been tough for Max since his mum died; his dad is having to work multiple jobs and so Max is often left looking after his three younger sisters. But then his dad – who he's always admired – finds himself in trouble and must disappear. Max needs to step up and be a ‘big man' even though he’s terrified. So, he and his sisters run away to hide at a remote Welsh cottage until their dad returns... We also recommend checking out The Secrets of Billie Bright and The Secrets of Sam and Sam for more LGBTQIA+ representation.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

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