Books to Celebrate Pride

To celebrate Pride month I’ve gathered together a few of my favourite reads that celebrate the Lgbtqiap+ community for all ages. There are plenty more that I would love to recommend but here are some of my favourites, I hope you’ll find something you enjoy 🙂

My Magic Family by Lotte Jeffs & Sharon Davey

There are billions of families, a million ways to be. But in my magic family it’s Mummy, Mum and me!
Let’s tell our family stories – fantastical and true – and we’ll find out who’s who to me, and who is who to you…

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells a story in rhyme of a little girl who learns about all her friends and their different families, and who together celebrate the beauty of how each family is special and unique. Fun, inclusive and full of warmth and love this is a wonderful addition to any child’s bookshelf and one that I hope will accompany many children’s childhoods for generations to come!

My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart

This great storybook is about a little boy who learns to be his wonderful true self with the help of his dad. Inspired by the author’s son, it deals with topics of identity, gender and opens up a safe space for children to see that there is not just one way to be; that all genders are individual to every person. The illustrations are great and it gives you all the warm and fuzzy feelings that you’d hope for. A joyful celebration.

[The authors second picture book ‘My Shadow is Purple’ is out now, which opens up the conversation further and celebrates non-binary identities.]

A Fox Called Herbert by Margaret Sturton

Rabbit has always known that he was born to be a fox but in a family of rabbits sometimes it’s hard for others to understand. With the help of his sister he enjoys dressing up with pointy fox ears and a splendid fox tail and although it takes some time for others to truly understand, this little fox’s story is one of joy and celebration.

Alice Austen lived Here by Alex Gino

Two non binary kids – Sam and TJ, get set a school project to research a local historical figure who made an impact to their Staten Island community, with the chance of it entering a competition for a statue to be made of their chosen individual. So they decide to delve into history right on their doorstep and discover pioneering female photographer, Alice Austen.

This modern tale with a historical twist is a short but pretty fun book to read. With mutlti-generational characters it’s a story of friendship, chosen family, diversity and speaking up when it’s most important. But for me, the aspect I liked most was learning about the talented Alice Austen herself. I hadn’t heard of her before picking up this book and as a photography student, learning about a trailblazing photographer is always interesting!

[Alex Gino’s other books include ‘George’ which is now published as ‘Melissa’, ‘Rick’ and ‘You Don’t know Everything, Jilly P!’]

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Author and illustrator Brian Selznick brings to life a story of two halves in his characteristic signature style. Melding illustrations with words he has created an wholly unique portrayal of two boys several centuries apart but who’s stories intertwine puzzlingly. With the first half of the book told completely through illustrations, of a young actor from the 18th century and the second half telling the life of a young boy in 1990 who’s ran away from school to take refuge at his uncle’s home in Spittlefields, you spend the book being completely intrigued, slightly (but happily) bewildered at times and always enchanted by the authors lyrical and atmospheric storytelling. It’s a rare and intriguing tale which I am eager to return to and discover once again. If you decide to pick it up, I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did!

[Dennis Severs’ House (the house where half of the story is set) is named after its owner, and is an actual house that you can visit in London. If you read ‘TheMarvels’ you can see that its dedicated to Dennis Severs’ himself, with an afterword all about his life. If you’d like to find out more about Dennis Severs’ you can visit]

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green

If you’re looking for laughs and a rom-com in book form, then look no further than Simon James Green books! It’s near impossible not to laugh-out-loud when reading them and with endearing and awkward characters like Noah, you can’t help but feel brightened up! Click here to hear from the author himself all about his books for kids and young adults 🙂

Release by Patrick Ness

Based on one of the authors favourite books Mrs Dalloway, Release is set over a 24hour period where both ordinary and fantastical events occur. I read this book when it first came out in 2018 so some of my memory on the finer details are a little hazy, however I remember racing through this book and finishing it in awe. Lyrical, immersive and with a ripple of paranormal sewn throughout the story, it was completely different to what I was expecting and to any other YA book I had read.

Alice Oseman’s book universe

Alice Oseman is in need of little introduction as they have taken the world by storm, this year in particular, with her amazing Hearstopper series featuring Charlie, Nick and their friends. But Alice has also written several novels, all revolving around a person of the Lgbtq+ community and I can honestly say each book of theirs that I’ve read I have absolutely loved. My personal favourite (outside Heartstopper) is probably Radio Silence which has Aled (one of Charlie’s best friends) as one of the main characters alongside protagonist Francis; but really, it’s a tough choice to choose just one favourite book! I will say however, that a few of her books are more serious in places than the light fluffiness of Nick and Charlies stories, so younger readers and people sensitive to some harsher topics may need to be mindful of these themes. That being said, these subjects are always handled with care and compassion and hold a great deal of importance in the need to talk about them. So without rambling for too long, what I’m trying to say is that Alice Oseman is definitely worth the praise that they receive and their books. Characterful and one-of-a-kind, their books I am sure, will go down in history for todays generation of teens and young adults, hopefully marking a wave of change to a brighter and equal future for all.

If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo

This American YA novel about a young trans teen follows the life of Amanda Hardy. Since starting her transition, she’s decided to move school due to bullying and goes to live with her estranged father. In a new town where nobody knows her, she feels that she’s finally getting that fresh start she needs; she’s even made an awesome friend at school and met a boy who seems to like her just as much as she likes him. Her life finally feels like it’s starting for good, but being a teenager isn’t easy, especially when you’re trans. An important book that has the power to both enlighten readers to the experiences of trans people as well as envelope trans readers in a hug, giving them knowledge that their voices matter and need to be heard.

[Although this is a great book, I should mention that it deals with some pretty heavy stuff in places including ass

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Having taken a stumble and fall, 84-year-old Florence (Flo to her friends) is having to wait to be found in her flat at the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. Unable to move, Flo has hours ahead of her to mull over her worries of the past and present. There’s a secret that she’s kept hidden for decades teetering on the edge of being discovered and with the appearance of a new resident who looks like the double of a man who she knows died many, many years ago, Florence’s consciousness sweeps between decades of memories with understandable confusion tinting her present.

With the story being set in a care home, we hear from the lives of a couple other characters who’s days criss-cross with Flo’s. This element of multi-perspectives from the residents eyes to the employees running the care home, creates such a human book about different walks of life and the struggles we all can face. The characters deal with forms of loneliness, expectations, sadness, friendship and hope. It’s hard not to empathise and connect with the characters for these are universal aspects of life we all experience. And the story’s not without quirkiness and humour too; there are plenty of moments that make you chuckle and mostly, it’s because you can see them happening in real life. I read this book a few years ago whilst visiting my fair share of care homes and the author pinpoints the atmosphere and mechanics of these very important, but often forgotten places. A mixture of melancholy and mischief from the residents, an air of old age and young hearts, a balance of seriousness and jollity, like the meeting of two seas. And I loved that it made you think about the people who work in residential care or nursing homes – each person is a literal superhero!

With twists, turns, mystery, humour and storyetlling of the wizardry level, I cannot recommend this book enough. An absolute shining star of a book!

A Single Thread by Tracey Chevalier

Set in 1930s England, our protagonist Violet Speedwell is a lady of the WWI generation who’s life continues to be forever changed by the devastation of the war and has resigned herself to being one of the ‘surplus woman’ who’s unlikely to ever marry. Quite sporadically and unusual for a woman of her age, she takes herself off from her familial home to live by herself and settles in Winchester to start a new life for herself boarding at a rather strict ladies house. Spending her time split between her one bedroom and the office where she works with two young ladies, who remind her how different their generations are, she stumbles uponWinchester Cathedral and finds herself joining the broderers who’s job it is to make the kneelers for the Cathedral. It’s here that she meets an array of characters including her to-be best friend Dot, who’s often seen as a bit of a strange bundle in their Hampshire community.

I hadn’t really thought about what our WWI generation continued to go through after the war had ended and how there was a generation of women who, due to the sparse population of men, were forced to grow old on their own and how this effected both society and the individuals. I also hadn’t encountered many characters who bought to life the realities of how women were treated in that time period. It naively surprised me in places but Violet took everything in her stride and her quiet strength builds throughout the book in a wonderful way. There is also a subtle element of LGBTQ+ represented in this book which I really appreciated and the history told was also fascinating. Set on the brink of the Second World War eclipsing this generations futures, the author’s skill of translating what so many people would have had to go through for a second time chilled me and made me realise how fortunate are to live in today’s world, which is by no means perfect with sadly wars still raging, but at least largely improved in most other ways.

A beautifully told story that despite it’s being rather humble appearance, is in fact a wonderful story of strength, independence and female friendship that’s filled with historical intrigue. I absolutely loved it!

No Shame – A Queer Life in Suburbia by Tom Allen

I won’t ramble on too much about this book as I’ve done a separate blog all about this brilliant biography which you can find here, but I couldn’t not include it in my favourite Pride books! Comedian and presenter Tom Allen tells his story of growing up gay. It’s a book that (unsurprisingly) will make you literally laugh as you read it, but it also has so much compassion and touching moments too. It’s a definite happy book to read if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps and no matter what it is that makes you feel different to others in the world, this book makes you feel as though you have a friend saying ‘don’t worry, just be you!’ and that is an awesome power that only great books and authors can achieve. All in all, I think it’s the bees-knees!

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

Part set in England, part in Paris the story of Grace Atherton is a little hidden gem! Grace’s life as a violin maker has come to a halt after her partner and herself break up meaning her dream of motherhood is now an even more far off dream. With not many friends around her, her life now seems lonelier than ever and with time on her hands to mull her past over, Grace’s thoughts darken with the cloud following her. But as is often in life, when one path is cut off a new one isn’t far away and so when circumstances change making two of her loyal customers into friends rather than acquaintances, Grace realises that she still has a lot to learn yet. This is a story of a nearing-middle aged women who’s life has be derailed, a young woman taking her first steps in adulthood and an elderly gentleman who’s life is full of rather splendid stories and how their lives merge together to form an unlikely trio of friends.

I read this book a few summers back on my train to work and by the end of the book it had become well thumbed, creased with the journeys and thickened by page corners turned down to remember certain sentences and quotes. A story of music, making your own family and deciding to live the life you’ve got fully rather than dreaming over the one you thought you should’ve had.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Tiffany D. Jackson, Ashley Woodfolk & Nicola Yoon

For someone who doesn’t usually read stories purely set around love this one completely swept me away. Set in the summer heat of New York whilst there’s an all-over-city blackout, we meet six young individuals and the people in their lives which beautifully interconnect with one another throughout this multi-author written narrative. With genuinely brilliant storytelling and diverse characters this modern tale covers some important topics as well as celebrates love, self discovery, friendship, family, and identity, all the while giving you all the warm and fuzzies. It makes you think and smile but most importantly it’s a shining light to a lot of teens & young adults who aren’t often seen in the great love stories of the world. If you need a book to accompany your summer days, then look no further!

[Keep a look out for a Netflix adaptation of ’Blackout’ that’s in the works to be made by the production team founded by the Obamas!]

Queen Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

If I could only ever recommend a handful of authors, Ruth Hogan would be one of them! All her books intertwine elements of mystery, the human experience and humour with unique and intriguing characters but this one set in Brighton is probably the most fitting to read for Pride month.

Tilly’s story flitters between her childhood and the present day. She’s a little different from other people and has always had her particular ways. As a child she lived a fairly turbulent life with her mother but steadiness came in the eccentric and kind arms of Queenie Malone who befriended them both into her Paradise Hotel where her mother worked and they lived, until her mother suddenly disappears without warning. Years later, Tilly finds herself back in Brighton as an adult after her mother’s passing, and it’s not until then that the mysteries of her past start to unravel into her present.

A very funny and touching tale with a character whom you feel as if you know by the end of the book.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

A summer romance perfect for fans of Heartstopper. Set on the American coast, young teen musician Ari dreams of leaving his town and family bakery behind to follow his dreams with his band. Hector, a bakery student has just moved to the area after the passing of his grandmother. With Ari’s family bakery struggling to make ends meet, Ari enrols Hector into the bakery and so starts a new adventure for the two of them. Both learning from one another, their unexpected friendship makes the summer something quite special. But can something bigger bloom?

Moonstruck by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle & Kate Leth

Delve into the magical world of Moonstruck where all kinds of fantastical creatures live including werewolf Julie, our protagonist of this series. Bookworm Julie works in a cafe with her best friend Chet (who happens to be a centor) and together they get into some scrapes, a few misadventures but always whilst having each others back. Julie also has her awesome werewolf girlfriend Selena but even with your girlfriend and best friend by your side, life can still get pretty messy! With whimsical characters, fun and mysterious plots as well as bloomin’ beautiful illustrations, this is a great graphic novel series for lifting your mood and escaping to.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watter, Grace Ellis & Brooke Allen

Meet the residents of the Roanoke cabin at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types – Jo, April, Ripley, Molly and Mal who spend their summers together on magical adventures, random escapades and sometimes, doing a little bit of crafting. Full of fun and friendship this awesome series is a must for anyone who loves comics or just wants a bit of escapist fun, no matter what your age.

[For more rambles about this series, click here where you can find some more recommendations of diverse graphic novels]

The Runaways by Rainbow Rowell  & Kris Anka

The Runaways which was re-launched in 2017 after the cancelation of the original series by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (which is amazing by the way) is a Marvel graphic novel series which following the lives of a group of young superheroes who went on the run from their villainous parents. Now all grown up (apart from young Molly) the Runaways have grown together, drifted apart and now found themselves back together. With a lot of history shared, this family made up of unlikely friends (and a telepathic dinosaur) takes on a new era of adventure and let me tell you, it doesn’t disappoint!

Giant Days by John Allison, Max Sarin & Lissa Treiman

Join Daisy, Esther and Susan as they embark (quite hilariously) on their first year at Sheffield university. Filled with expected uni dilemmas, hilarious misadventures, self-discovery, relationships and a lot of British humour, this trio of misfits, all different in their own way, band together in their first steps into adulthood. Whether you’re more happy and optimistic Daisy, gothic and dramatic Esther or serious and sarcastic Susan you sort of can’t help totally understanding where they’re coming from and it’s sure to get you belly chuckling. It has to be one of my favourite comic series hands down. 

A Different Sort of Normal by Abigail Balfe

Autistic and queer author Abigail Balfe has created this book for young people who are autistic as a helpful guide to growing up from infancy to right up to college. Included in this book is a chapter on her experiences of being gay and she also talks about other awesome areas of the Lgbtqiap+ community. It’s a great book filled with colour, illustrations and wonderful advice for people of all ages whether you’re autistic yourself or are wanting to simply better understand and support autistic individuals.

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