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12 Joyful Children’s Books That Explore Pronouns & Gender Identity

Kids these days are going to be pronoun experts. Our language is changing. They/them can be singular according the dictionaries and style guides everywhere. Ze/zir is defined on dictionary.com. Terms like “joyfriend” and “nibling” abound. No longer are there just two boxes to check on our paths to self-discovery.

While adults may scratch their heads at this living language and the way that pronouns are evolving, kids just accept and move on. So, let’s face it, these books celebrating pronouns and gender beyond the binary might be more helpful to caregivers than to kids.

Worldess picture books are perhaps your greatest hidden tool in practicing new pronouns. Try not assuming a character’s gender. Just say they/them! Give it a whirl and next time you meet a new person, and you aren’t feeling brave enough to ask their pronouns, you won’t miss a beat defaulting to they/them, which is, by far, the most inclusive. *steps off soapbox*

Whether these books are about pronouns or use non-binary pronouns or are wordless, they all give readers of all ages some practice moving beyond the binary. Pride month is a great time to focus in increasing your awareness, but these joyful reads are a delight any time of year. Look no further than your local bookseller or library, kid lit has got you covered. A few of these titles are outwardly LGBTQIA+ but mostly they are about being yourself, being fabulous, and being limitless.

A Book For Exploring

To start off the list, of course we have to talk about this whole book that’s about finding your pronouns. The main character Ari meets lots of people around their neighborhood. And they all use different words. Ari isn’t sure what words feel right to them. It’s a lovely story of self-exploration and it just models the kind of acceptance that comes so easily to kids.

A Book That Celebrates A Day In The Life Of A Baby

If you’re going to practice non-gendered pronouns, you can always practice with babies! Celebrate the excitement of every day with a sweet baby whose gender is unimportant. This is a great baby shower gift. Babies love looking at other babies. That plus the black and white designs will make this a hit with your tot.

A Book Celebrating Grandparents Who Want To Get It Right

A perfect example of “kids these days.” Jamie (they/them) can’t wait to walk around with their Bubbie. Bubbie fumbles with people’s pronouns, making incorrect assumptions. Instead of this book shaming Bubbie, Jamie graciously reminds her it’s OK to make mistakes, but it’s always OK to just use someone’s name. See also: the first book in this series Jamie Is Jamie where were meet Jamie and learn about their interests.

A Book About A Robot Looking For Love

This book uses they/them pronouns for a robot. It’s totally seamless and not noticeable. Sima’s books are always a win with kids, and this little robot who is searching for a definition of love will charm everyone.

A Book Starring An Unapologetically Awesome Guinea Pig

Leave it to Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness to write a celebratory and joyful book about a gender nonbinary Guinea pig who is unapologetically themself. Another grand example of they/them pronouns being no big deal.

A Book About A Beautiful Llama

Admittedly, the llama in this story, Larry, has straightforward pronouns. He uses he/him/his. However, this one deserves a shoutout here because Larry defies llama (and gender) norms and is proudly himself. This is the pride book that all kids can enjoy. It drives home that it’s OK to be different, and that differences should be celebrated.

A Wonderful Primer For Any Age

This book is a celebration of so many gender identities. While the focus is on naming the identities (cis, trans, nonbinary) the pronouns are woven in seamlessly. It’s diverse and happy and the perfect primer to those new to thinking outside the binary.

A Book That Solves A Spooky Mystery

This is a spooky ghost story for readers 10 and up. It deftly handles grief, friendship, and gender identity. The main character, Bug, discovers, clarifies, and declares their gender identity along with solving mysteries. (Bonus Easter Egg: the illustrator Noah Grigni, who illustrated It Feels Good To Be Yourself illustrated this cover.)

A Book That Makes No Assumptions

Sometimes a good pronoun strategy is to omit them altogether! It’s always cool to use someone’s name and in this book, we meet Riley. Riley’s gender is unimportant and the reader doesn’t need to reach for assumptions. Riley is just Riley: a snappy dresser a fun kid.

A True Story Filled With Love

A true story of a trans boy written by the child’s mother. This book models love, acceptance, and affirmation for trans children. Just look at that cover. Look at Penelope loving himself!

A Book That Needs No Words

Wordless picture books are the best practice for not assuming people’s gender! This book is so fun and meta and brain-twisting. One kid finds a red book, inside another kid is pictured. That kid also has a red book. Mind blowing.

A Book That Looks Beyond

It’s easy to imagine more affirming and accepting world for our kids of all genders, and this book really helps paint that picture. Confronting gender norms and giving a peek into the lives of gender-non-conforming folx, hand this book to your teen or yourself. You’ll likely devour it in one sitting.