Rainbow Reads (Booklist)

A Booklist Celebrating and Affirming LGBTQIA+ Youth

In our continued work to further inclusion and representation in our bookshelves and curriculum, we are happy to present our newest recommended reading list. We are intentionally releasing this list in April to correspond with our university’s LGBTQ Pride month.* 

Like all booklists we coordinate, the following collection of titles are ones that have personally mattered to us, the list contributors. These are books we enjoyed in our own reading, learning, and teaching. Further, like all booklists we work on, this is not a comprehensive list; instead, with hope, it is a modest starting place. 

This list is part of a much larger critical work to ensure that all students learn in safe, supportive, inclusive environments free from bullying and harassment. Research by GLSEN shows that there are four critical ways schools can create supportive learning environments for LGBTQIA+ students—supportive educators, comprehensive policies, inclusive curriculum, and supporting student GSAs. Like our classrooms, we aim for our bookshelves to be safe spaces where all students find authors and characters who share in their multiplicity of identities. 

Encouragingly, Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, Anthony Lehman-Plogger, Jill Clingan, Brian Stuhlman, Lisa DeCastro, and Lilah (age 9)

*Mizzou Pride Month is sponsored and coordinated by the Mizzou LGBTQ Resource Center, part of the Division of Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity.


Kelly DiPucchio (Author) | Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

This delightful children’s book tells the story of two families of puppies. It offers a great springboard for discussing identity (including gender expression), diversity, and inclusion with young learners.

I am Jazz

Jessica Herthel (Author) | Jazz Jenkins (Illustrator)

From a very young age, Jazz knew she had a girl’s heart and brain in a boy’s body. Her story, told by Jazz herself, explains simply and clearly her journey to becoming herself. Jazz is a brave and beautiful spokesperson for transkids everywhere.

It’s Okay to Be Different

Todd Parr

It’s Okay to Be Different inspires kids to celebrate their diversity.  Being unique or different is special. This book helps kids grow their self-confidence and be brave.

Pink is for Boys

Robb Pearlman (Author) | Eda Kaban (Illustrator)

This children’s book invites and encourages all young people to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify the myriad colors that surround them every day, from the orange of a popsicle, to the green of a grassy field, all the way up to the wonder of a multicolored rainbow.

And Tango Makes Three

Justin Richarson (Author) | Henry Cole (Illustrator) 

This children’s book tells the true story of two papa penguins and their baby, Tango, who lived together at the Central Park zoo.

Stella Brings the Family

Miriam B. Schiffer

When Stella’s class celebrates Mother’s Day, she isn’t quite sure what to do because she has two dads. This book celebrates the diversity of all families.

Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda

Becky Albertalli

A sweet high school love story about two boys finding themselves and falling for each other. Also, now a major motion picture.

Dreadnought: Nemesis

April Daniels

This middle grade adventure series follows a transgender girl as she navigates friends, family, identity, and saving New Port City and humanity with her new superhero powers.

I Wish You All the Best

Mason Deaver

This book is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

Almost Perfect

Brian Katcher

Taking place in very familiar midwest surroundings, Almost Perfect  examines a blossoming relationship that becomes a bit complicated when the main character finds out his love interest is not who he thinks they are.  

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game

Abby Wambach

Olympic soccer player and co-captain of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion Team, Abby Wambach offers us new lessons on leadership and success. This tour de force skyrocketed to the bestseller list and has been called a must read. A great read for high school students and adults. 

Note: There is now also a NEW Young Adult Version of this book out.

The Hours

Michael Cunningham

This book is a creative, masterful retelling of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and explores the stories of three generations of lesbian/bisexual women. 

This is How It Always Is

Laurie Franke

This gripping, full-hearted novel is a mother’s story of raising and loving five children. This midwestern family includes two parents, four sons, and one transgender daughter. Beautiful, heart-breaking, and important.

We Are Okay

Nina LaCour

This is a beautifully written, poetic story about loss, grief, friendship, love, and hope. 

The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern

This stunningly beautiful story tells of a character who meanders a magical, underground world of imprisoned pirates, ghostly ballrooms, magical libraries, and whispered stories in search of his purpose and his love. LGBTQIA themes are not unpacked in this book. Instead, it’s a love story that recognizes that love is love is love. 

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit 

Jeannete Winterson

In this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age and coming-out novel, Winterson explores a character figuring out who she is and the complicated, painful consequences of being a lesbian teenager in a conservative Christian, evangelical world.

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