Buenos días! In light of LGBTQIA Pride month, we decided to extend our writing schedule into June and provide you with a Reading Roundup of LGBTQIA Latin American/Latinx children’s books. We decided to focus specifically on children’s books rather than include YA titles because it seems books for younger readers are particularly scarce and difficult to find. In effect, we wanted to do the legwork for you!
In our search we came across the following useful websites for discovering other books that intersect Latinx and LGBTQ themes:
- Flamingo Rampant
- Out Proud Families
- Oveja Rosa
- Bajo el Arcoíris
- Teaching for Change’s Social Justice Booklists has a number of curated lists that pertain here, including Early Childhood Anti-Bias Education, Early Childhood: Learning about Gender Identity; and LGBTQ.
Another resource we want to point out to you is an animated series created in 2017 by Somos Familia. It documents a Latinx family’s journey in understanding the coming out of their gay son. It has 15 episodes and is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Sometimes we find books that seem interesting, but we don’t include them in our roundup unless we can actually read and review a hard copy! This proved particularly so for this search! Of the many that we were unable to review personally, here are a few that made the top of our list. Based on the information we could find online, they look promising!
- ¿Camila tiene dos mamas?, written by Peruvian Verónica Ferrari and illustrated by Mayra Avila. I found the book read aloud in Spanish online, which I recommend checking out. Also, In this video you can see Avila’s process of illustrations, and in another video you can hear an interview with Ferrari. This book received a lot of attention in Peru.
- Olívia tem dois papais, written in Portuguese by Márcia Leite and illustrated by Taline Schupach.
Most importantly, for the teachers who may not feel comfortable teaching this subject, especially with young readers, here are articles to prompt reflection and resources to help you on the way:
- Rethinking Schools’ editorial article on “Queering Schools“
- PBS Teachers’ Guide to LGBT Young Resources
- ACLU Library: LGBT Youth and Schools Resources and Links
- Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen-Edwards (a book you’d need to buy, but the first chapter is available online for free)
- Rethinking School’s 2016 publication on Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality (another book to buy, but you can read the introduction online)
And now, without further ado, here are the best titles we came across that would help young readers with this topic:
One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo
Written by Laurin Mayeno
Illustrations by Robert Liu-Trujillo
Translations by Teresa Mlawer
Published by Blood Orange Press
Age Level: 4-7
Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess. Mommy supports him 100%, and they race to the thrift store to find his costume. It’s almost closing time – will Danny find the costume of his dreams in time? One of A Kind, Like Me / Único como yo is a sweet story about unconditional love and the beauty of individuality. This unique book lifts up children who don’t fit gender stereotypes, and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community.
I loved this book and its statement of the importance of love, respect and understanding. Through this book, we see the possibilities of fun and happiness when one embraces both bravery and acceptance. This book is filling an important gap in children’s literature, showing the liberation that Danny feels when he is true to himself and his identity even as a young child, demonstrating that gender need not prevent us from feeling happy, comfortable and free. I appreciated the note at the end of the book with the photos and story of the original Danny who inspired the story. The author, Laurin Mayeno, is Danny’s mother, and she and Danny wrote this story together. Robert Liu-Trujillo’s illustrations are beautiful, soft and filled with color; they complement the story perfectly. Mayeno is a major proponent for supporting diverse families like her own. In the author’s note, Mayeno offers the website she founded, outproudfamilies.com, as a great resource for diverse families. I also suggest checking out Maria Ramos-Chertok’s review of the book on one of our favorite sites, Latinx in Kid Lit. In this review, Ramos-Chertok offers teaching tips for using the book in the classroom.
Antonio’s Card/La tarjeta de Antonio
Written by Rigoberto González
Illustrations by Cecilia Concepción Álvarez
Published by Children’s Book Press
Age Level: 7-10
Antonio loves words, because words have the power to express feelings like love, pride, or hurt. Mother’s Day is coming soon, and Antonio searches for the words to express his love for his mother and her partner, Leslie. But he’s not sure what to do when his classmates make fun of Leslie, an artist, who towers over everyone and wears paint-splattered overalls. As Mother’s Day approaches, Antonio must choose whether or how to express his connection to both of the special women in his life.
Rigoberto González’s bilingual story resonates with all children who have been faced with speaking up for themselves or for the people they love. Cecilia Concepción Álvarez’s paintings bring the tale to life in tender, richly hued detail.
In this bilingual story, Rigoberto González sensitively discusses situations with which young children of gender-diverse families are often confronted. In the story, Antonio has ambiguous feelings – he is self-conscious about the gender norms broken by his mother and her partner, Leslie, yet at the same time, he loves Leslie and is happy to have her in his life. Throughout his struggle, Antonio’s mother and Leslie are nothing but supportive and understanding; they do not push ideals onto Antonio, but show him constant love, which eventually overpowers Antonio’s self-conscious feelings. Furthermore, I like that this book brings to light the gendered aspect of holidays like Mother’s Day, offering multiple perspectives on how such holidays can help children celebrate diverse families. Cecila Goncepción Álvarez’s illustrations are beautiful and soft, reflecting the loving relationship between Antonio, his mother, and Leslie. Lee & Low Books also has a teacher’s guide for Antonio’s Card/La tarjeta de Antonio that we recommend checking out.
Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol
Written & Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
Age Level: 6-10
What does it mean to be like a tree?
For one young child, it all begins
as a tiny seed
that is free to grow
and reach out to others
while standing strong and tall—
just like a tree in the natural world.
With this gentle and imaginative story about becoming your fullest self, Maya Christina Gonzalez empowers young readers to dream and reach . . . and to be as free and unique as trees.
This is a beautiful book about a gender-neutral child who beautifully grows into a tree. I love this book and believe that its messages of belonging and diversity, as well as the importance it gives to our connectedness with nature, are relatable and empowering for children. Its illustrations are also breathtaking. If you would like to read a more in-depth review of this book, please check out Lorraine’s post. Also, I recommend checking out the interview with Maya Christina Gonzalez about why she made the protagonist of Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol gender neutral. Lee & Low Books also made a Teacher’s Guide to accompany the book.
Written by Lesléa Newman
Illustrations by Maria Mola
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
Age Level: 4-8
Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, and he also loves things that shimmer, glitter, and sparkle. Casey’s older sister, Jessie, thinks this is weird. Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are only for girls. Right?
When Casey and Jessie head to the library for story time, Casey proudly wears his shimmery skirt and sparkly bracelet. His nails glitter in the light. Jessie insists that Casey looks silly. It’s one thing to dress like this around the house, but going outside as a “sparkle boy” is another thing entirely. What will happen when the other kids see him?
This sweet and refreshing story speaks to us all about acceptance, respect, and the simple freedom to be yourself. Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are fun—for everyone!
Just looking at the sparkly cover of this book, I was excited to read it. This book has been on our shelves for some time, and we’ve been eager for the chance to share it with you, our readers. While this book does not have as much Latinx content as other books on the list, it is a beautiful story that discusses issues of bullying from a standpoint that demonstrates the importance of family. It also demonstrates the importance of not passing judgments upon others, and shows the value of acceptance and the irrelevance of gender norms in a way that children will understand. Lee & Low books has a teacher’s guide for Sparkle Boy, which I recommend checking out. Enjoy!
Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana
Written by Francisco X Alarcón
Illustrations by Maya Christina González
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
Age Level: 4-8
the first day el primer día
of the week is de la semana fue
dedicated to the Sun— dedicado al Sol—
with family around con familia alrededor
it’s always sunny siempre hace sol
on Sunday el domingo
So begins this bilingual collection of poems that takes us through the week day by day. Children spend Sunday visiting their grandparents, play with school friends on Monday, daydream on Tuesday, eat popcorn at the local market on Wednesday, and more, until we arrive at Saturday, when they get to play nonstop all day. Along the way, we also learn how the names of the seven days came to be.
Partly based on the real life experiences of Alarcón’s own family, this festive, celebratory collection of poems highlights the daily life of children while also honoring the experiences of the poet’s Latino family in the United States. With her vibrant illustrations, illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez has created a loving tribute to childhood, to family, and to Francisco Alarcón, who passed away in January 2016.
This is a beautiful book that illustrates the importance of love and family, and it also highlights the interconnectedness of ancient languages across the world and their connection to all of us today. While reading this book, I was overwhelmed by feelings of comfort and inclusivity. Family Poems for Every Day of the Week / Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana is not explicitly LGBTQIA, however, Francisco X Alarcón identified as gay and this book demonstrates that not all books that honor specific experiences, such as LGBTQIA experiences, need to explicitly label them. Sometimes we can just acknowledge individuality. Maya Christina González is a major promoter of gender rights and she and Alarcón worked on a number of books together. González made a five-week Gender Blog Series, which I recommend checking out. For a more in-depth review of this book, I suggest taking a look at the review that Beverly Slapin wrote for the De Colores blog. Lee & Low Books made a teacher’s guide for this book as well.
¡Eso no es normal!
Written by Mar Pavón
Illustrations by Laure du Faÿ
Published by Nubeocho Ediciones
Age Level: 3 and up
El elefante tenía una trompa larguísima.
Con ella ayudaba a sus amigos,
pero el hipopótamo siempre se burlaba
–¡Eso no es normal!
Pero, ¿Qué es “normal”?
The elephant has a very long trunk.
With it he helps all his friends,
but the hippopotamus always mocks him and says:
“that’s not normal!”
But what is “normal”?
This book was very fun to read and illuminates the special qualities that everyone has to offer, especially those that are less common. As the author and illustrator revealed the fun and ridiculous ways that the elephant used its long trunk, I was laughing out loud. This book is not only fun, but it does a great job at shedding a positive light on our differences and reveals important lessons about treating others with respect. While this book is neither Latin American/Latinx, it is written in Spanish and could be used in the Spanish classroom. And, similar to the preceding title, it does not specifically address LGBTQ issues, its emphasize on accepting individuals can become part of a discussion about how individuality is an important aspect of the LGBTQIA experience — again, one which doesn’t need to be explored with explicit language. I hope you like this book as much as I do!