Today is International Nonbinary People’s Day, so here are more than a dozen new (and upcoming) children’s books from 2022 that celebrate nonbinary kids!
Yes, these are all just from 2022! You can also filter my database to find many older picture books and early readers with nonbinary kids as well as middle-grade ones (and there have been some stunning middle-grade ones lately). I’ve focused below on nonbinary kids, not parents, only because I rounded up the books with nonbinary parents for Nonbinary Parents Day in April. (For ones published since then, check the database under the “Nonbinary/genderqueer parent/adult(s)” tag.)
Click through for full reviews:
Bye Bye, Binary, by Eric Geron and illustrated by Charlene Chua (HarperFestival). “It’s a … baby!” And the baby in this cheerful board book is “ready to smash gender norms.” When asked, “Boy or girl?” the baby responds, “WHAT’S IT TO YA?” and explains they’re still trying to figure out who they are. The baby isn’t necessarily nonbinary (they could also be simply gender creative), but the book definitely leaves open the possibility, as one of the parents responds to the question “He… or she?” with “They don’t need to be either.”
The Pronoun Book, by Chris Ayala-Kronos and illustrated by Melita Tirado (Clarion Books). This bright board book poses one question: “How do you know what someone wants to be called?” The answer? “Ask.” The book then offers spreads celebrating different pronouns and the people who use them, all with various gender expressions and other aspects of diversity. While this book applies to people of all gender identities, it may be of particular usefulness in helping people understand and respect nonbinary and trans folx.
Timid, by Harry Woodgate (Little Bee). The author of Grandad’s Camper brings us a story about a child who loves to perform (and happens to be nonbinary)—except that their inner cowardly lion always roars away their confidence. Can a new friend who is also shy help them overcome their fears?
Miss Rita, Mystery Reader, by Kristen Wixted and Sam Donovan, illustrated by Violet Tobacco (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Tori’s dad is going to be the Mystery Reader in Tori’s class, and Tori has asked him to come as his drag persona, Miss Rita. Tori (who is nonbinary) helps Daddy get ready, but worries that their friends won’t like Miss Rita as much as they do. Daddy says he’ll go as his regular self if Tori prefers—but then Tori has an idea, and dons their own sparkly, colorful outfit to be Miss Rita’s assistant. The class is enthralled.
My Shadow Is Purple, by Scott Stuart (Larrikin House). A standalone companion book to author/illustrator Scott Stuart’s My Shadow Is Pink, which was about a gender creative boy, this rhyming tale stars a child whose shadow isn’t blue like dad’s or pink like mom’s, but rather purple—an analogy to being nonbinary. This story doesn’t just bust blue/pink stereotypes, though, but also stresses that there are many ways one can express oneself away from this binary—and that there are even choices away from the perfectly centered purple.
A Costume for Charly, by C. K. Malone and Alejandra Barajas (Beaming Books). Charly is looking for a Halloween costume that shows “they were both a boy and a girl.” They dig through their costume box, but none seem quite right. Finally, they have an idea, and craft the perfect costume for themselves from the parts of two. Charly twirls proudly in the costume that makes them feel “one-hundred percent Charly.” This story about a queer kid finding their own solution to a problem—and the problem not being their identity or people’s reaction to it—is upbeat and welcome. Out September 6, but available for preorder.
Payden’s Pronoun Party, by Blue Jaryn, illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo (Page Street Kids). When Payden tells mom and dad “I’m not sure I’m a boy,” they suggest talking with friends who use different pronouns, and say they’ll throw a party after the decision. Each of Payden’s friend describes how the right pronouns can feel like flying, dancing, or getting a hug. Payden tries them all and eventually decides that “e, em, and eir” give him the same feelings. His parents throw the promised party. Fun and uplifting, with a great model of supportive parenting (though see my full review for some further considerations about promising pronoun parties.) Out October 4, but available for preorder.
Good Dream Dragon, by Jacky Davis and illustrated by Courtney Dawson (Little, Brown). A child who uses they/them pronouns (and has a trans flag above their bed) is put to bed by their two moms. They worry about having bad dreams, but the Good Dream Dragon offers a magical solution. Simply delightful. Out October 25, but available for preorder.
Noodin’s Perfect Day, by Ansley Simpson and illustrated by Rhael McGregor (Flamingo Rampant). Noodin, a nonbinary, indigenous child, is seeking a perfect day, starting with pancakes for breakfast. But their mom is busy and their aunty asks them to watch two of their cousins. Noodin decides to head off to the city with the cousins to visit Noodin’s dad. It turns out dad is busy, too—but the cousins help Noodin have fun anyway, even if the day wasn’t quite what they expected. But does Noodin ever get their pancakes?
The Magic Shell, by Jillian Christmas and illustrated by Diana G. A. Mungaray (Flamingo Rampant). Pigeon Pea has a lot of questions about their family and ancestors, so one afternoon, Aunty (who has a sweetheart named June) entrusts them with a magic cowrie shell that whisks Pigeon Pea back in time and across continents to visit with their great-great-great-great-great-great grandmothers and others from their West African and Kalinago heritage. A story of family and heritage, queer and otherwise.
You Are Not Alone, by the Alphabet Rockers and illustrated by Ashley Evans (Sourcebooks). This book by hip-hop group the Alphabet Rockers, based on a song from one of their Grammy-nominated albums, reminds kids that they always belong and encourages them to celebrate themselves, support each other across differences, and speak out against injustice. Images throughout the book include Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, transgender, and nonbinary iconography. One character is nonbinary.
The Best Bed for Me, by Gaia Cornwall (Candlewick). Mommy and Mama want their young child, Sweet Pea, to go to bed. Like kids everywhere, though, Sweet Pea knows how to stall—but author/illustrator Gaia Cornwall turns the stalling into a fun romp through the animal kingdom as Sweet Pea wants to sleep in a tree like a koala, then holding hands like sea otters, upside down like a bat, then standing up like a penguin…. Sweet Pea is never gendered and could easily be read as nonbinary. An utterly charming tale.
When Whales Fly, by Erica Perl and illustrated by Sam Ailey (Simon Spotlight). This second book in Erica Perl’s “Whale. Quail. Snail” early reader series is as fun as the first, with the three friends off on new adventures. Snail (who uses they/them pronouns) likes to surf. Quail likes to explore. Whale just wants to fly! But can whales fly? Snail has a plan to help their friend! Perl brings her signature humor and whimsy to the tale, and Snail’s gender identity is happily just part of who they are, without any special emphasis.