Note: This list of LGBTQ bedtime stories was assembled with the help of my girlfriend Issy, an experienced primary (elementary) school teacher and fellow member of the LGBTQ community.
If you were read to as a little one, it’s pretty likely that your fondest reading memories are of bedtime. The best bedtime stories to read are ones that are like paths to good dreams.
From magical bedtime stories, we get sparks of imagination and beautiful, peaceful dreams.
Bedtime stories are also a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about the variety that human experience has to offer us.
LGBTQ+ Bedtime Stories to Read to Your Little Ones
LGBTQ experiences are the epitome of variety; they exist outside of the normal ways that many of us were taught to live, and they’re all the more beautiful for that.
These LGBTQ bedtimes stories to read right now are all glowing examples of the varied queer experiences so many of us go through.
They’re also inspiring, imaginative tales and stories with valuable lessons to teach your children.
My Shadow is Purple by Scott Stuart
My Shadow is Purple is a beautiful story about the beauty of diversity; about the wonders that lie outside of the needlessly restrictive gender binary.
Our young protagonist has a father with a blue shadow and a mother with a pink shadow, and yet our protagonist’s shadow is purple.
At school, so many boys have blue shadows and girls have pink ones, but not all of them.
One size never fits all, and this illustrated bedtime story celebrates those who don’t, can’t, and should never have to fit into one of two constricting boxes.
For transgender and non-binary readers, this is an uplifting tale that inspires empathy and wonder in young readers.
If you want to really teach your child about the magic of variety, about all the colours that are out there, this is one of the essential LGBTQ bedtime stories to read right now.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Julian is a young boy who, one day, becomes mystified by three women he sees all dressed up like mermaids.
Inspired and mesmerised by their beauty, Julian longs to dress up in beautiful colours and feminine style.
This is a very minimalist bedtime story; its gorgeous imagery carries the story and allows Julian’s heart to speak louder than words ever could.
This also allows you to add your own flair to the story as you read it, if you like.
Julian is a Mermaid reminds us that there is no right or wrong way to express yourself, or to live your life (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else).
There are no labels in this book, either; what we have is simply a young boy inspired by feminine beauty who wants to express himself in that way.
This is a truly wonderful and inspiring LGBTQ bedtime story to read right now with your own little ones.
Me and My Dysphoria Monster by Laura Kate Dale and Hui Qing Ang
We at Books and Bao are huge fans of Laura Kate Dale, as a video games critic, a memoirist, a podcaster, and as a transgender trailblazer.
Here, she has teamed up with the incredibly talented illustrator Hui Qing Ang to bring us her first ever children’s book: an uplifting tale about overcoming gender dysphoria.
In a world where we are increasingly aware of, and knowledgeable about, gender dysphoria in trans children, a book like this helps to put complex feelings into simple words.
It does this through an easy-to-comprehend metaphor that every child can follow, whether they suffer with dysphoria or not.
In fact, if they don’t, Me and My Dysphoria Monster is a wonderful lesson in empathy for children who are growing up in an increasingly diverse social landscape.
Gender dysphoria is a very important topic for parents to be aware of, and for that reason, Dale’s book is one of the most important LGBTQ bedtime stories to read, whether you are a child or a parent.
Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
Norman has grown a pair of wings, and he loves them. But he is afraid of what his parents will say; afraid of judgement or rejection or punishment; afraid he is somehow wrong.
Perfectly Norman is a fascinating story. As a transgender person who kept their true identity secret from her parents for fear of rejection, I related to this book in a big way.
However, Perfectly Norman can also be interpreted as a celebration of our individuality, queer or not.
Norman’s wings can easily be a metaphor for gender or sexual orientation. It can also be a metaphor for a curious new hobby or interest; something that sets a child apart from the usual.
This makes Perfectly Norman a broadly relatable story about how fear and shame can cause us to hide who we really are, even though who we are is never a bad thing.
For queer readers, this story will hit extra hard, but we can all relate to Norman’s experiences in one way or another.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole
And Tango Makes Three is a touching tale about a gay couple who want a child of their own.
Roy and Silo are two penguins who live in a zoo enclosure, and they have fallen in love. But, as two male penguins, they can’t have a child of their own.
With the zookeeper’s help, their wish might be able to come true.
Given how increasingly normal it is for children around the world to be raised by same-sex couples, it’s important to teach this to children at a young age.
This way, it becomes normalised and they don’t grow up thinking it’s peculiar or out-of-the-ordinary in any way.
And Tango Makes Three, a beautifully illustrated tale about a happy penguin family, is the perfect way to teach such a lesson.
For that reason, this is one of the best LGBTQ bedtime stories to read to your children.
The Pirate Mums by Jodie Lancet-Grant and Lydia Corry
The Pirate Mums isn’t just a story about same-sex parents raising a child. It’s also about aesthetics and hobbies and fashion and expression that’s all outside the norm.
It’s about how there are different ways to live your life, to express yourself, to spend your time, and to raise a child.
This LGBTQ children’s book celebrates adventure and strangeness, expression and queerness.
It’s another wonderful bedtime story that helps to normalise having two mums, but it’s also one full of colour and humour that inspired adventure and wonder.
This is how you write a happy, exciting, wholesome, and celebratory tale of queer families for children to enjoy. One of the most wonderful LGBTQ bedtime stories to read now.
The Prince and the Frog by Olly Pike
Everyone knows the tale of the princess and the frog: a beautiful princess kisses an ugly frog and he transforms back into a handsome prince.
The Prince and the Frog, as its title suggests, flips the script on this story by making it wonderfully gay.
It does more than that, though. By keeping the princess in the story as the extroverted sister to the more introverted prince, it adds a layer of sibling love to the tale.
Now, this is a queer children’s story, as well as one about sibling love and the differences between them.
This is about diversity in more ways than one: in our sexual orientations, in our experiences, our expressions, how we love, and how we play.
One of the most simple, charming, and effective LGBTQ bedtime stories to read to your children.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
This is one of the smartest yet most relatable children’s stories you’ll ever read, and another tale that can be read in different fun ways.
Most obviously, this is a tale of gender identity. A blue crayon has been mistakenly labelled as red. Inside, he is blue but all outward signs point to him being red.
Everyone around him encourages him to be what he seems to be, without seeing what he really is inside.
But this is also a tale that can easily be related to by cisgender readers as well; by neurodiverse people who behave differently, for example.
Or simply by people who have different hobbies. Little boys who don’t want to play football, despite being encouraged to.
The clever ways in which the life and actions of crayons are laced into this story makes it a very funny and charming tale, but it’s also a desperately important one about being true to oneself.
For genderqueer readers, for children with dysphoria, for kids who just feel a little different, Red: A Crayon’s Story is one of the most vital LGBTQ bedtime stories to read right now.
10,000 Dresses by Ewert and Marcus
This is the story of a young trans girl who dreams, every night, of wearing a beautiful dress.
But every morning she wakes up and is seen as and called a girl.
This is also the story of her coming to be understood and helped to realise her true self in her waking hours.
A beautiful trans tale for young readers to enjoy and absorb. 10,000 Dresses is a story for trans kids to empathise with and cis kids to learn from and sympathise with.
Of all the great LGBTQ bedtime stories out there, this is one that hits hard and has a very specific, very poignant lesson to teach about what we are versus what we seem to be.
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman and Kristyna Litten
This Day in June is a colourful and vibrant celebration of the equally colourful and vibrant queer community around the world.
As its title suggests, this is a book about Pride; about the month of June, in which millions of queer people and our allies dance and sing and dress up and celebrate ourselves and each other.
This particular book also comes with a reading guide that will teach and contextualise plenty of queer history and culture for children and parents alike.
As educational as it is uplifting and celebratory, This Day in June is a beautiful book about love and life and community. An essential book amongst LGBTQ bedtime stories to read to your children.
A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager and Mike Blanc
Another sweet, heartwarming, and educational queer story about life as a child with two same-sex parents.
This is a simple book that answers simple questions about gender roles within a relationship, especially as parents raising a child.
A Tale of Two Mommies challenges gender roles and expectations, and the toxic heteronormaitve society we were told is normal and proper and ideal.
Uplifting and valuable, this is another essential book on this ever-growing list of wonderful LGBTQ bedtime stories to read to your little ones.