You realize you’re still sort of a parenting pioneer when a google search of “best books about gay parents for 2021” comes back with results in the single digits.
There aren’t enough, but at least it ain’t the 80’s, anymore.
But this needs some categorization. There are two types of best books about gay parents for 2021 where the same-sex parents are the point of the book. And then there are books where the parents are just a matter-of-fact in the background.
So this list is specifically about having two dads or two moms.*
But equally important, children’s books should be relatable and inspiring.
- helping all children know they’re not alone on this earth both in the sense of not feeling lonely and also they have obligations to be good citizens
- inspiring them to think big, creative dreams and inspire them to be kind, wise and brave
So there are books about gay parents, and then there’s another grouping of books that are often lumped together under a big, colorful queer rainbow…gay parents, gay children, gender exploration in children and gay history. These are all separate categories and serve different purposes.
Books about gender exploration are not the same as gay parenting. They serve to help a child understand their own gender orientation.
Books about gay people (or animals, as it were) help children learn there are many ways to love another being. And that isn’t about gender.
Books about queer history are not the same as a book teaching a child “ain’t it great to have two daddies, two mommies, or some other non-traditional nuclear family?”
So here are the best books about gay parents for 2021.
Books that say: Gay Parents…Ain’t That Great?
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole One of the pioneering children’s books about gay parents based on the true story of two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo who nested together, tried to hatch a rock, and were given an egg to foster (which they did successfully.) Seen as an excellent introduction for children to learn who families differ and love is love. Shows that even in the “wild” (and not just at Folsom) animals have successful gay parenting instincts, as well. Beautifully written and illustrated.
My 6 yo likes it because: I want to be a penguin.
Daddy, Papa & Me (as well as) Mommy, Mama & Me
by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson.
The beautiful standard in gay parenting board books. Adorable rhymes and just the right length for toddler attention spans. Newman breaks through parenting traditions portraying both moms and both dads as being the workers and the homemakers and the creatives and the adventure-seekers.The Family Book by Todd Parr
My 5yo liked it: because you read it to me so much.
by Michael Joosten & Izak Zenou
Stella Brings the Family Miriam Schiffer – In this book, Stella feels slightly self-conscious during the classroom’s Mother’s Day celebration that she doesn’t have a mother, but then realizes she has two fathers who love her immensely and make up for that gap. The illustrations alone will capture your kid’s attention and open their minds to diversity in families.
By Lesléa Newman (another from her!) and Laura Cornell. Another delightful intro for young kids to the idea that all families look a bit different. When Heather is in class and asked about her family, her highlighting of her family make-up helps show that all the kids have families that look different.
By Seamus Kirst & Devon Holzwarth. Many gay fathers have to navigate questions like “Is it mom’s night off?” or “Who’s more the mom and who’s more the dad?” or even “Who’s the real dad?” In this book, Riley’s asked this last question, which is just plain confusing to her. But after some healthy chatting, Riley helps remind everyone that family can be what you make it and there’s no reason to play favorites or parse unnecessary meanings of parental roles.
by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown. Stella gets worried when her classroom is going to have Mother’s Day celebration when the kids can bring a “special guest” to class. Stella frets over not having a mother, but then realizes the true meaning of family doesn’t come down to gender or parenting labels. A great intro for gay and straight families with very cute illustrations.
My 5yo liked it because: I like the colors.
BJ Barone, Frankie Nelson & Debbie Donsky
Gay fathers B & Frankie put pen to paper about their passion in having their son, Milo, via gestational surrogacy. They wanted to remind their son, their community and the world that families all look different, but with love, they all work.
*(or maybe 3 dads, as has been featured in the news, of late…gentlemen? – you should get to writing your own book soon!)