There’s been a lot of discussion in the media, online and, well, everywhere of late about gender, specifically gender identity.
As with most discussions about most subjects, I’m a big believer that understanding is the key and that books can go a long way to fostering that understanding.
Books can say so much.
The list below was created by Nevo Zisin, author of Finding Nevo and The Pronoun Lowdown, and features books about gender identity for kids of all ages.
Nevo and I met at Brisbane Writers’ Festival a few years ago, not long after Finding Nevo, their memoir on gender transition, had been published.
We sat beside each other at a signing and the thing that resonated with me the most was the long queue of teen readers who just wanted to meet Nevo and say thank you.
Thank you for writing a book that held a mirror up to their experiences, gave a voice to what they were feeling, and allowed them to see what might be.
Thank you for writing a book that took them inside what other people they knew were experiencing.
And it’s now my turn to say thank you to Nevo.
When I reached out to ask for a list of children’s and YA books about gender identity, they were quick to share this list, which originally appeared in The Pronoun Lowdown, a guidebook to all things pronoun.
As the blurb says: “Everyone deserves to have their identity affirmed by their friends, families, and the world through which they move. The Pronoun Lowdown celebrates trans and gender diverse identities, in all their fluid and imperfect perfection!”
The same could be said of this book list.
Children’s & YA books about gender identity
For readers 4+
Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity – Brook Pessin-Whedbee & Naomi Bardoff, 2017
A brightly coloured children’s book for anyone aged 4 or above. It includes an interactive three-layered wheel that demonstrates the difference between our bodies, gender expression and gender identity. There are also discussion points and fun explanations of key concepts.
The Gender Fairy – Jo Hirst, 2015
A beautiful children’s book about two young people discovering that it’s okay to like the things they like. That they can be whoever they want to be, and that they are not alone. This is a great resource for teachers, family members and young people.
A House for Everyone – Jo Hirst, 2018
While this children’s book shows the many ways young people may express their gender identity, it affirms that the important thing is that they come together to play and create. Each of them is unique, and each of them is valued for it.
I Am Jazz – Jazz Jennings & Shelagh McNicholas, 2015
A children’s book about Jennings’ gender identity, of which she was aware from the age of two. It is simple and clearly explained and helps to bring concepts of gender to a real-life example.
Introducing Teddy – Jessica Walton, 2016
A gorgeous children’s book about Errol and his teddy, Thomas. When it becomes clear that Thomas is sad, we discover that Thomas has always felt like a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. This is a gentle story that may help children understand better understand the concept of gender identity.
It Feels Good To Be Yourself – Theresa Thorn & Noah Grigni, 2019
A great and straightforward guide for children and their families on vocabulary related to gender identity. Written by the mother of a transgender child and illustrated by a non-binary transgender artist.
For YA readers
The Brilliant Death – Amy Rose Capetta, 2018
A genre- and gender-bending mystical tale about identity, courage and love. Teodora has magical powers, which she is able to use against evil, thanks to the guidance of Cielo (who shares this magical gift).
Dreadnought – April Daniels, 2017
After inheriting powers from the world’s greatest superhero, Danny Tozer must navigate coming out as transgender and having all of her dreams met at once. Although, maybe that’s a little too much, too soon.
Euphoria Kids – Alison Evans, 2020
As wholesome as it is magical, this book celebrates trans identity as an incidental part of a far more exciting story. By pivoting away from trans tragedies, this joyful fantasy novel will have you squealing with delight from the start until the end.
Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender, 2020
Felix wants to know what it’s like to be in love, but worries that being Black, queer and transgender will get in the way of his romantic journey. After encountering anonymous transphobia, Felix comes up with a revenge plan, but gets more than he bargained for.
Finding Nevo – Nevo Zisin, 2017
If you’re interested in knowing more about Nevo’s life and story, check out this memoir about their journey as a trans, non-binary, Jewish, queer person growing up in Melbourne. It can also be a helpful guide for family members to understand the lived experience of non-binary identity a little bit deeper.
Highway Bodies – Alison Evans, 2019
What’s the only thing better than a zombie apocalypse novel? A zombie apocalypse novel with trans and queer representation! This book is terrifying, exciting and revolutionary.
I Wish You All the Best – Mason Deaver, 2019
Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as non-binary only to be kicked out of home. When they move in with an older, estranged sister, their traumatic situation is transformed into an opportunity for a new chapter.
IDA – Alison Evans, 2016
A brilliant speculative fiction book about Ida, who has the ability to time travel (or so she thinks). This book shows off Evans’ seamless writing of trans and queer characters without it being the central theme.
If I Was Your Girl – Meredith Russo, 2016
Amanda is keeping her trans identity secret, because she wants to create a whole new life for herself. But when she starts getting closer to Grant, she feels she needs to tell him about every aspect of her life. This book is a tender exploration of young love.
Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories – anthology, edited by Michael Earp, 2019
An anthology of fiction stories written by queer Australian YA authors. It’s got everything you could imagine; romance, identity, empowerment, darkness, sci-fi and fantasy.
Pet – Akwaeke Emezi, 2019
This book discusses what it means to be a monster-hunter when no one will admit that there are still monsters to be hunted. It’s a simple and powerful allegory: keep on fighting for justice, even if the world keeps telling you there’s nothing wrong.
Spellhacker – M.K. England, 2020
Magic used to be free and available to anyone, but now a greedy corporation has turned it into a tightly controlled entity, charging outrageous sums for access. Diz and her three best friends run a dangerous operation to redistribute magic to people and possibly save the world.
Stay Gold – Tobly McSmith, 2020
Pony is trying to keep a low profile. He doesn’t want to define himself by his trans identity and wants a fresh start at his new school, but then he locks eyes with Georgia. Can he stay stealth while getting close to her? Can Georgia keep focusing on her schooling and not dating like she promised herself?
When the Moon Was Ours – Anna-Marie McLemore, 2018
Miel and Sam are strange, magical and inseparable. Miel has roses growing out of her wrist and Sam paints moons and hangs in trees. They both avoid the Bonner girls, four sisters rumoured to be witches. But when things change, they are no longer able to escape them.
Nevo Zisin (they/them) is a queer, non-binary, Jewish writer, performer, activist and public speaker based in Naarm/ Birraranga / Melbourne.
They run workshops in schools and professional development trainings in workplaces around transgender identities. Find out more about Nevo and their books here.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.
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