Every year, during the month of June, the LGBTQ community celebrates in a number of different ways. Since I no longer live in a large city with parades and festivities, I’m going to celebrate Pride Month here with a selection of amazing non-fiction picture books. I’m so impressed that this is becoming a topic that is not as taboo as it once was, but many are still uncomfortable with the topic. Hopefully these books will help the younger generation be more comfortable with it.
Today we all consider the rainbow flag to be the symbol of the LGBTQ community. When I was growing up, it was an upside down pink triangle. In the new book Sewing the Rainbow: The Story of Gilbert Baker and the Rainbow Flag, by Gayle Pitman, children not only get to see the creativity behind the rainbow flag, but also what life was like for young Gilbert Baker. Gilbert always had a love of design and fashion, but his father wanted him to have nothing to do with it and act like a more traditional boy of the time. He was drafted into the army and that was what finally brought him to San Francisco, a place he could finally be himself and feel free. As I said, it was the pink triangle that was at once the symbol of gay rights, but that was taken from the upside down pink triangle that the Nazis made gay men wear during their reign of terror. In 1978, Harvey Milk and Gilbert Baker decided it was time for a new symbol and the flag was born. The 2 1/2 page reader note at the back of the book is amazingly written and full of a ton of information about the gay rights movement, the flag, and Gilbert Baker. A wonderful book! (Thank you to NetGalley for access to a digital review copy. All opinions are my own)
Another new book about the flag, though this one focusing on Harvey Milk and his dream of equality, is Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, by Rob Sanders. This is a beautiful book that focuses on positives rather than negatives. Harvey Milk is famous for saying “You have to give them hope,” and that is the recurring theme in this book as this book is meant to give hope to the current and future generations. Steven Salerno’s illustrations are marvelous. They bring the book to life and show the vivid spirit of the LGBTQ movement. The back of this book make it especially important as a nonfiction picture book because it gives not only great factual information, but provides a timeline of Harvey Milk’s life as well as a timeline of the flag’s life.
For a simple picture book about the pride marches and parades that happen every June, Gayle Pitman brings us This Day in June. Every year across the country, the LGBTQ community comes together to have a parade during the month of June. The parades began as a way to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. They have also become a way to show their pride and show the rest of the world that they are there and are supported. The point of this book is more of a celebration of the LGBTQ community. This is a great book for a variety of ages. The illustrated pages are simple, with easy rhymes. However, there is a great reading guide in the back that takes each page and explains the images, allusions, and culture behind them. There is also a note to parents and caregivers in the back. While more of the country is comfortable with non-binary concepts, it can still be hard to answer questions that kids bring up.
One of my favorite books for younger readers that manages to show that LGBTQ families are just like heterosexual families is And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. This is a true story about two penguins in the Central Park Zoo in NYC who weren’t like the other penguins. Animals have families just like humans do. Like other animals, there is a time when the animals search out a mate. However, the zoo had two male penguins that spent all of their time together and started creating their own home. Their keeper gave them an egg and they took care of it just like any girl/boy penguin couple. When the baby hatched, they named her Tango “because it takes two to make a Tango.”
Just like we can’t choose our skin color, we can’t choose our gender. When I was a kid, people hid the way they felt, but fortunately, more and more people are comfortable with admitting their gender preferences publicly. A very powerful book about one girl’s struggle with this is I am Jazz. The book starts out showing all of the things that Jazz loves including her two best friends. But than it changes to show that Jazz isn’t exactly like her friends because she has a girl brain stuck in a boy body. There are not as many children who go through this experience, but we need to be aware of the concept of transgender and this book illustrates it beautifully.
Each Wednesday I try to post nonfiction picture books as part of the challenge set up by Kid Lit Frenzy. There are amazing books available for kids these days. Check the linkups on Alyson’s site for more!