Picturing Pride – 6 LGBTQ-Friendly Picture Books

LGBTQ-friendly picture books offer budding Trans and Queer readers a fun way to take part in Pride month, all year round. We’ve rounded up six of our favourite titles. Enjoy!

AND TANGO MAKES THREE By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell  Illustrated by Henry Cole

Based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap penguins who raised a penguin chick together in Central Park Zoo, And Tango Makes Three continues to generate controversy more than a decade after its release. Indeed, it’s one of the most challenged books in the US. Such unwelcome attention testifies to the elegantly direct way that this book conveys complex social concepts.

While plainly unique, Roy and Silo’s desire to create a family is painted as being in keeping with that of the other animals in the zoo. Bigots may see red. But readers see two male characters build a loving, stable home for their daughter, Tango. These three flightless birds teach kids a memorable lesson in human nature.

10,000 DRESSES By Marcus Ewert / Illustrated by Rex Ray

One of the first-ever picture books to address ‘trans’ issues, 10,000 Dresses remains a staple of LGBTQ-friendly KidLit lists.  Bailey adores dresses and dreams of crafting beautiful, magical gowns out of everything from rainbows to windows. Sadly, no one at home wants to hear about such aspirations. “You’re a BOY!” Mother and Father tell Bailey. “You shouldn’t be thinking about dresses at all.”

An older girl named Laurel befriends and shows Bailey the joy of being true to who you are inside. And the two pursue their shared passion for fashion, and make exquisite dresses. Marcus Ewert’s inspiring tale, coupled with Rex Ray’s vibrant illustrations, will resonate with any kid who refuses to dress like everyone else.

MORRIS MICKLEWHITE AND THE TANGERINE DRESS By Christine Baldacchino  Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant

Morris loves the tangerine dress in his classroom’s tickle trunk so much that he wears it around school. The kids in his class refuse to let him play in their imaginary spaceships, claiming that boys and astronauts don’t wear dresses. Morris refuses to let the bullies limit his imagination. At home, he creates a painting of his own marvelous space adventure (featuring himself sporting the tangerine dress) and brings it to school.

When Morris shows the painting to two classmates, they join him on an imaginary voyage a guiding star called acceptance. A 2015 Stonewall Honour Book, Morris Micklewhite and The Tangerine Dress is a vivid testament to the importance of embracing our own dreams and each another’s differences.

DONOVAN’S BIG DAY By Leslèa Newman / Illustrated by Mike Dutton

From the award-winning author of Mommy, Mama, and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me comes the story of Donovan’s turn as ring-bearer at his two moms’ wedding. Unlike many other LGBT-friendly picture books, it doesn’t present Donovan having two moms or same-sex marriage as issues that the characters have to somehow resolve. Rather, their right to marry is presented as a given.

By focusing on Donovan navigating the demands of his role in the ceremony, Leslèa Newman shows how bewildering public rituals like weddings can be for all concerned. And readers learn that, “love makes a family.” A wonderful story about love, family and marriage, Donovan’s Big Day will appeal to every member of the wedding party.

WHAT MAKES A BABY By Cory Silverberg / Illustrated by Fiona Smyth

 The best-funded children’s book on Kickstarter, What Makes A Baby explains conception, gestation and birth without conflating sex and gender and includes trans folks and folks who conceive through non-traditional means such as adoption, IVF, and surrogacy.

Sex educator Cory Silverberg’s story about the reproductive process doesn’t gender people or even body parts. And cartoonist Fiona Smyth doesn’t specify her playful characters in terms of colour or gender. Parents are thereby given the room to draw upon their own experiences when educating their kids.

A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY by Sara O’Leary Illustrated by Qin Leng

Award-winning author Sara O’Leary takes the well-worn trope of a class discussion and turns it into a fresh, captivating take on a question that recurs throughout LGBTQ-friendly kids’ books: what is a family? When a teacher asks her students what makes their families special, the answers reveal family make-ups ranging from gay parents to grandparents, and, from single parents to divorced parents.

What prevents O’Leary’s book from becoming a litany of family types is her remarkable ear for how children’s speak. For instance, a student says “both my moms are terrible singers. And they both like to sing really loud.” Qin Leng’s  vivid, elegant illustrations beautifully flesh out these snapshots of each family.  A Family Is A Family Is A Family is a wonderful, vital addition to every family’s library.

H A P P Y  P R I D E !

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Chronicling 150 Years of Mouse City at Doors Open

We staged Mouse City Chronicles, a series of 5 model city-building workshops for urban planners aged 2-8, inspired by the past 150 years of Toronto development, at City Hall on May 27-28, as part of Doors Open.

Each session covered 30 years of local history, starting with 1867-1897 (Mouse City #1) and extending to 1987-2017 (Mouse City #5). Leading urban affairs authors – Adil Dhalla (right, top), Matt Blackett and Rani Sanderson (right, middle), Jane Farrow (left bottom), Jay Pitter (bottom, seated), and  Stephen Shapiro (left, middle) – conducted the sessions and served as Mayor of one of the five incarnations of Mouse City.

Our amazing team of craft artists – Tim Walker, Sarah Ramsey, Tiana Roebuck and Rani Sanderson – provided craft materials appropriate to each era and guidance to literally thousands of wee urban planners and families over the weekend. We also had invaluable support from an amazing group of volunteers.

For more photos of Mouse City Chronicles, visit our Facebook Page (here).

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Celebrate Family Pride with Qin Leng

Qin Leng, the acclaimed designer-illustrator of such picture books as A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY by Sara O’Leary, will conduct our next ABC DIY alphabet book-making workshop: “F is For Family” at The 519.  Storytellers aged 3-8 can celebrate the range and diversity of families in the form of a traditional ABC book.

Our “F is For Family” workshop with Qin Leng is part of The 519’s Family Pride festivities for Queer and Trans families, taking place on Saturday, June 10, 10am at The 519 (519 Church Street). FREE. For details, click here.

Copies of A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY will be available for purchase at the event.

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Sharpen Your Pencils …

Walt Whitman once told a friend, “if I had more time, I’d have written you a shorter letter.”  In that spirit, we’re announcing a fall contest before summer.  Writers aged 6-12 are invited to take part in our 8th Annual Toronto Roald Dahl Day Short Story Contest, based on Dahl’s beloved novel MATILDA.

Craft a short story (1500 words MAX) about what you, a middle-grade student living in Toronto, would do if you woke up on a school-day morning and discovered you had telekinetic powers just like Matilda.Send it to roalddahlday@smallprinttoronto.org by Tuesday, October 9th.

An all star panel of judges will award cool prizes to the top stories at the 8th Annual Toronto Roald Dahl Day celebration on Saturday, November 18 at The Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor St West – at Bathurst).

 

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