A book of their (our) own
August 8, 2019 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for children's narrative picture books with one or more explicitly nonbinary characters. Any topic is fine.

I need the text to specifically include someone using something other than "he" or "she" as their pronouns, or otherwise being identified as nonbinary (or related terms are great too). Snutt the Ift comes so very close to being the perfect book here, but Snutt is actually just not gendered by the text, and I really do want someone (human or otherwise) who specifically has a nonbinary and/or agender identity in print.

By "picture books" I mean anything from baby board books to read-alouds to any of the illustrated early readers to "Magic School Bus"-type works, stopping short of pages of text with only occasional pictures.

I am not looking for (because I already have 'em):
- "It's okay for boys to wear dresses!" (etc.) books
- "It's okay for girls to do STEM!" (etc.) books
- books that talk about gender in an abstract way like Who Are You? does (lovely book, but not really a story)
- books that don't really have characters (What Makes a Baby, for example) or don't give the character(s) gender(s) (More More More Said the Baby)
- "The author has said that this character is supposed to be X," where X doesn't actually appear in the book
- miscellaneous background characters who are never acknowledged by the text (the baby in Wanda's Roses, the passers-by peanut gallery in The Most Magnificent Thing, etc.)
- "There's really no reason this anthropomorphic animal/machine/whatever needs to be gendered, so just read the text differently/don't bring gender into it"

Thank you!
posted by teremala to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
These are on my someday baby wishlist, so I haven’t actually read them yet. But based on summaries I think they might fit?
-From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea
-A House for Everyone
-They, She, He, Easy as A,B,C (this one might not be narrative enough but maybe?)
posted by tan_coul at 9:57 AM on August 8, 2019

Before anyone suggests Julian is a Mermaid, Julian is explicitly gendered as a boy on the first page, and "he" pronouns are used throughout.

I'll be watching this thread with interest. I only know of YA books using nonbinary pronouns and have been searching for kids' books as well.

Some resources that might be of interest, but which didn't specifically have anything pop up for a quick "nonbinary" search for me:
Scholastic's diversity catalog
We Need Diverse Books
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:18 AM on August 8, 2019

Are you a boy or are you a girl? is a book about a non-binary character called Tiny.
posted by atlantica at 10:19 AM on August 8, 2019

It Feels Good To Be Yourself - though maybe not narrative enough...
posted by valeries at 11:06 AM on August 8, 2019

PDF of the The Story of X, which may or may not be what you're looking for. It was originally published in 1975, I believe, so it is in some ways dated, and in other ways very advanced.
posted by valoius at 11:51 AM on August 8, 2019

I don’t have a copy in front of me, so aren’t sure how pronouns are handled, but you might take a look at Michael Hall’s “Red: A Crayon’s Story”.
posted by carterk at 11:56 AM on August 8, 2019

Meet Polkadot, part of the Polkadot series

Edited to add - perhaps not story story enough
posted by PistachioRoux at 2:34 PM on August 8, 2019

The Lumberjanes comic series has a character named Barney who is introduced in the first issues as an (assumedly) male Scouting Lad but does not discuss their own gender, and then ends up joining the Lumberjanes scouts in collected Vol. 7 and explicitly uses they/them pronouns from collected Vol 8 onward (collected volumes published as books). The series is really targeted at tweens but my youngest child has enjoyed reading it with me from around age 4 even if some of the references go over his head.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:08 PM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Do you know of Flamingo Rampant Press?

I'm particularly pleased with George Parker's Bell's Knock Knock Birthday, in which an either nb or as-yet-undefined Bell has a birthday party containing people of many different genders. Super Power Baby Shower, The Last Place You Look, and 47,000 Beads also contain nonbinary characters and other forms of gender variance; other books from the press also may, but those are the ones I have read.

Flamingo Rampant books are never going to win the Caldecott or anything like that, but they are earnest and heartfelt and fun, and I have never felt more seen and included.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 9:14 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

The current Kickstarter campaign for Winter's Tale may be of interest?
posted by Coaticass at 6:10 PM on August 9, 2019

Response by poster: Y'all I am actually tearing up about the existence of some of those books. Those are some great-looking books (a few of which our library system even has!); I would indeed be interested in that Kickstarter; Flamingo Rampant, *wow*. Can I afford their $250 box of children's books? Can I afford *not* buying them? I love that they're specifically aiming for stories that aren't once-there-was-oppression-but-now or about bullies or even necessarily about gender at all. And I deliberately didn't ask for racially diverse books per se because I figured I'd have to take whatever I could get, but just look at how wonderful a tiny little slice of the world is being!

We actually do have Red: A Crayon's Story, and it just... hasn't clicked with our family. I don't know. It's fine? A binary trans friend's cis partner raved about it, which is why we have it, but maybe we're too literal over here or something because my kid couldn't even process why anyone would think the blue crayon was red in the first place. For the record, the titular character is "he" throughout the story and I don't think anyone else is given a pronoun.

For others who are interested: searching for some of these titles lead to me discovering Diverse Book Finder, which is pretty neat!
posted by teremala at 2:55 PM on August 13, 2019

« Older Medical Cannabis Card in PA - Medical Records   |   "Sprinkle a little between the sheets..." Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.