A Pride month reading list for Australian primary students

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

June is Pride month in Australia, but to make it truly meaningful for school communities, the truth is that tackling LGBTIQ+ issues shouldn’t be a token effort for just one month in the entire school calendar.

Genuine inclusivity means exploring teachable moments that enable conversations about gender, language, family structure and pronouns to happen every day.

Many children in primary schools across Australia already experience diversity in their own households – but seeing it in classrooms in ordinary moments, from maths questions to picture books, as well as books for older primary school readers, helps students feel that they are part of an accepting and welcoming community, no matter what colour, gender or culture they are.

To help make LGBTQ+ inclusivity part of your primary school’s story, this list of books from a mix of international and Australian authors and illustrators includes recommended reading to suit a range of students.

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Who’s Your Real Mum? written by Bernadette Green, illustrated by Anna Zobel

Cover for Who's Your Real Mum

This picture book addresses a common question that same-sex parents and their children inevitably face: Who’s your real mum?

Elvi has two mums and her curious friend Nicholas wants to know which mum is the “real” one. To answer his persistence, Elvi creates outlandish, imaginative responses and teaches Nicholas a powerful lesson: he role of a parent is more than mere biology.

Wrestle by Maya Newell, Charlotte Mars, Gus Skattebol-James, illustrated by Tom Jellett

Cover of the book Wrestle

The award-winning documentary, Gayby Baby, inspired this story that explores queer family, identity and challenging stereotypes.

Gus realises there is more than one way to be a boy and definitely more than one way to be a wrestler.

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This Australian story also focuses on the Sydney Mardi Gras.

My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart

My Shadow is Pink book cover

The author-illustrator’s life inspired this and tells the story of a young boy whose pink shadow is different to his dad’s blue shadow. The boy loves ponies, princesses, and putting on dresses, and while he is initially embarrassed about this, his father helps him be proud of being himself.

It’s written in verse and explores everything from toxic masculinity to gender identity, diversity, fatherhood, self-expression and the impact of childhood bullying. My Shadow is Pink is also an animated short film.

Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

Cover for Love Makes a Family

This is a board book for the very young. It uses everyday activities as the backdrop to discuss concepts of family and relationships.

And the over-arching message? Love sits at the centre of every family, regardless of its diversity.

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Introducing Teddy: A gentle story about gender and friendship by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson

Cover for Introducing Teddy

Errol and his teddy bear Thomas love playing together, but one day Errol realises that Thomas is very unhappy. You see, Thomas says he is a girl teddy and wants to be called Tilly.

This book deals with a complex topic in a way that is simple and sensitive and shows that acceptance is at the heart of inclusion.

Pink Is for Boys, by Robb Pearlman, illustrated by Eda Kaban

Cover for Pink is For Boys

Life isn’t colour-coded and gender ‘norms’ can be challenged. In this story, boys can love pink and unicorns, and girls can love cars and the colour blue. Because, really …. of course they can!

I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, Illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Cover for I Am Jazz

This charming book is based on the real life of author Jazz Jennings. From a young age, Jazz, recognises that she has a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. The feeling of being transgender is captured in an engaging way.

Julián Is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love

Cover for Julian is a Mermaid

This is an American award-winner, little Julian is inspired when he sees three women dressed as mermaids and decides he wants to be a mermaid, too! But what will his Abuela (grandmother) think? Through Julian’s story, young readers learn about loving themselves and celebrating what makes them special…mermaid tails and all!

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The Boy and the Bindi, by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Rajni Perera

The Boy and The Bindi book cover

There’s a 5-year-old boy at the centre of this story. He admires the bindi that adorns his mother’s forehead, and wants one for himself. His mother lets him wear a bindi of his own and teaches him about the significance of this tradition.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, by Kai Cheng Thom, illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching

From The Stars in The Sky To The Fish In The Sea book cover

This subtle exploration of gender identity and fluidity tells the story of Miu Lan—a child who can change into any shape imaginable.

My Footprints, by Bao Phi, illustrated by Basia Tran

My Footprints book cover

Thuy is different from some of her classmates—not only is she Vietnamese-American … she has two mums. A bully’s teasing her leaves her feeling sad and lonely, and to cheer herself up on the way home in the snow, she imagines her life as other animals. Safely at home, her mums help her see how brave, beautiful, and wonderful she already is.

When Aidan Became a Brother, by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylana Juanita

When Aiden Became a Brother book cover

When Aidan was born, he was given a pretty girl’s name, a pretty girl’s room, and pretty girl’s clothes…the problem was, none of it felt right. So, Aidan’s mum and dad helped him adjust to his new life as a boy. But soon, Aidan must prepare for another big shift: the birth of a baby sibling!

Mommy, Mama, and Me, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson

Mommy Mama and Me

This is one of the original board books to celebrate same-sex families (also check out Daddy, Papa, and Me by the same author), the littlest kids get to see a day in the life of a toddler with two mummies.

My Two Dads and Me, by Michael Joosten, illustrated by Izak Zenou

My Two Dads and Me book cover

In the same vein as Mommy, Mama, and Me, this board book gives tots a glimpse into the life of a family with two dads. There’s also My Two Moms and Me.

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A Family Is a Family, by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng

Love is love, and a family is a family…no matter if your family is made up of two dads, or one grandma, or a bunch of stepsiblings. This sweet story celebrates families of all configurations.

Auntie Uncle: Drag Queen Hero, by Ellie Royce, illustrated by Hannah Chambers

Auntie Uncle Drag Queen Hero book cover

Uncle Leo performs drag and transforms into Auntie Lotta! After Auntie Lotta saves the day at the town Pride Parade, her nephew helps come up with the perfect way to celebrate both sides of his fabulous Auntie Uncle!

Prince & Knight, by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis

Prince and Knight book cover

This books breaks with norms about what fairytale love looks like. It’s a swashbuckling tale about a prince and knight who join forces to battle a monster…and find love along the way.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Steven Salerno

Book cover for Pride The Story of Harvey Milk and The Rainbow Flag

The origin story of the Gay Pride Flag, shares the history of activist Harvey Milk.

My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me: These Are the Things We Found By the Sea, by Natalie Meisner, illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars

My Mommy My Mama My Brother and Me book cover

Rhymes and illustrations bring the story of a family’s trip to the seaside to colourful life.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live