Books Featuring Gender-Creative Characters

Books Featuring Gender-Creative Characters

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Great titles for children ages four to eight

Looking to add a little gender diversity to your children’s, classroom’s, or library’s bookshelves? Check out these picture books, appropriate for kids in preschool through second grade, featuring gender-creative and transgender characters. The following titles are great thought provokers and conversation starters, and provide support for kids and adults who are exploring or learning about the gender spectrum:

I Am Jazz

By Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

  • Illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
  • Published by Dial Books, 2014
  • 32 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on Jazz’s real-life experience, and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture-book readers and their parents and teachers.”

Not Every Princess

By Jeffery Bone and Lisa Bone

  • Illustrated by Valeria Docampo
  • Published by Magination Press, 2014
  • 32 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“Who do you want to be: a princess? Pirate? Teacher or scientist? And where would you like to play: a castle? Pirate ship? Library or space lab? It’s your decision to make, so think away. Your imagination and thoughts can create pictures and scenes, the most beautiful, amazing, picturesque dreams! [Not Every Princess takes children on an imaginative journey] beyond the limited roles and expectations that gender stereotypes create.”

Jacob’s New Dress

By Sarah Hoffman and Ian Hoffman

  • Illustrated by Chris Case
  • Published by Albert Whitman & Company, 2014
  • 32 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear “girl” clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.”

All I Want to Be Is Me

By Phyllis Rothblatt

  • Illustrated by Phyllis Rothblatt
  • Published by CreateSpace, 2011
  • 24 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“All I Want to Be Is Me is a beautifully illustrated children’s book reflecting the diverse ways that young children experience and express their gender. The book gives voice to the feelings of children who don’t fit into narrow gender stereotypes and who just want to be free to be themselves. [This book] offers a wonderful way for all children to learn about gender diversity, embracing different ways to be, and being a true friend.”

My Princess Boy

By Cheryl Kilodavis

  • Illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone
  • Published by Aladdin, 2010
  • 36 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy.

Inspired by the author’s son, and by her own initial struggles to understand, this is a heartwarming book about unconditional love and one remarkable family. It is also a call for tolerance and an end to bullying and judgments. The world is a brighter place when we accept everyone for who they are.”

10,000 Dresses

By Marcus Ewert

  • Illustrated by Rex Ray
  • Published by Triangle Square, 2008
  • 32 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows. . . . Unfortunately, when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary. “You’re a BOY!” Mother and Father tell Bailey. “You shouldn’t be thinking about dresses at all.” Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together. And Bailey’s dreams come true!”

Red: A Crayon’s Story

By Michael Hall

  • Illustrated by Michael Hall
  • Published by Greenwillow Books, 2015
  • 40 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!”

Made by Raffi

By Craig Pomranz

  • Illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain
  • Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2014
  • 40 pages

Publisher’s summary:

“Raffi is a shy boy who doesn’t like noisy games and is often teased at school. But when he gets the idea of making a scarf for his dad’s birthday, he is full of enthusiasm, even though the other children think it is girly to knit. Then the day draws near for the school pageant, and there is one big problem: no costume for the prince. And that’s when Raffi has his most brilliant idea of all—to make a prince’s cape. On the day of the pageant, Raffi’s cape is the star of the show.”

Backwards Day

By S. Bear Bergman

  • Illustrated by KD Diamond
  • Published by Flamingo Rampant, 2012
  • 34 pages

Publisher’s summary:

Backwards Day, set on the planet Tenalp, introduces us to a world where there are 17 seasons, including one where bubblegum falls from the sky for three days and a single day when everything—everything everywhere—is backwards. Andrea looks eagerly forward to Backwards Day every year, so she can turn into a boy for the day. But one year she doesn’t turn along with everyone else. She’s miserable. The very next day, however, she turns into a boy—and stays that way! He’s delighted, but his parents are distressed, and take him to the big city to consult with Backwardsologists. When they finally figure out what’s happened, the miracles of Backwards Day are fully revealed to the reader.”

Connect with other Solo Moms who have LGBTQ children in our confidential community of Sisters.

Cheryl Dumesnil, ESME’s LGBTQ Resource Guide, is an author, educator, writing coach, all-around do-gooder, and one of two moms separately coparenting two amazing boys. You can follow her on Twitter at @cheryladumesnil.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

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