Reading With Pride: An Inclusive Booklist for Students

by Cheryl Greene

Pride Month celebrates the lives, accomplishments, and potential of the LGBTQ+ community. People deserve to be seen, heard, and affirmed, and these titles offer affirmation for young readers. Books help us initiate courageous conversations and provide mirrors that allow students to see their identities reflected and windows that allow them to see authentic lives different from their experiences.

From heartfelt stories of resilience and belonging to empowering tales of strength and identity, these books offer visibility into diverse experiences and voices. In a world where representation matters more than ever, literature has the power to shape minds, hearts, and futures.

We've highlighted five remarkable books out of a treasure trove of twenty on our list, each celebrated for its ability to captivate, educate, and inspire readers of all ages.

PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

“I use the children's book PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders with my 9th graders! Even though it might be intended for a younger audience, my high schoolers are completely engaged with the story, beautiful artwork, and discussing the Harvey Milk quotes included in the book. We use this book when learning about different human rights issues and what can be done to bring awareness to these issues. Year after year, students don't know the story of Harvey Milk and the important role he played in history. Books that lift the stories of those who might not be typically represented in schools, like Pride, are critical in developing students who are open-minded, empathetic, and critical thinkers.”
– Jen, High School English Teacher

The Rainbow Parade

“LGBTQ+ stories are worthy of respect and deserve to be celebrated. The Rainbow Parade lets kids know their stories and their friends’ stories are a beautiful part of the fabric of humanity. That's something every child deserves.” – Kelley, HRC President

Queer: A Graphic History

“When I opened the book, I expected a graphic representation of queer history. What I got was so much more: a survey of queer theory. The book is more philosophy than a graphic novel: perfect for advanced secondary readers who like to think about ideas!” - Angie, High School English Teacher

If You’re a Kid Like Gavin

“I was fortunate enough to know Gavin Grimm when he was a high schooler in Virginia, and I can tell you two things about him: 1) he is a tremendous gift to the world and 2) he’s a normal kid! Gavin’s story is courageous for his fight for transgender rights in schools and at the same time, Gavin just wanted to use the bathroom at school. All youth should know the story of heroes like Gavin who fight for their community and are just regular youth like them.”
- Ted, HRCF Youth-Well Being Director

Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington

“Bayard Rustin was one of the most influential activists of our time who was an early advocate for African Americans and for gay rights. He was a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., teaching him about the power of nonviolent direct action. I find this book to be very readable and approachable for even the most reluctant reader. We learn about the work of Bayard Rustin, one of the most impactful American citizens who ever lived. His mentorship of Civil Rights leaders, who are revered today, was critical to the evolution of the Civil Rights movement in America. The principles of nonviolence and social disobedience were articulated and taught by Rustin, leading to the monumental movement for Civil Rights for people who are Black, poor, and marginalized. He planned and orchestrated the Poor People’s March on Washington while facing rejection from his peers because he lived authentically as a gay man. His story must be shared and understood by students of all ages.” - Toni, K-12 Educator


2024 Welcoming Schools Pride Booklist

Download Full Booklist

HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools has been at the forefront of providing educators with curated booklists and lesson plans to ensure students see lives similar to their own reflected in literature and have an opportunity to learn about people and cultures that are different from their own. All students deserve to be seen and valued for exactly who they are.

Check out our other resources to create inclusive classrooms!

Remember that our resources are only as effective as the educators using them! We invite you to engage in our professional development to build the confidence to successfully incorporate these books and lessons into the classroom.

HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is the most comprehensive bias-based bullying prevention program in the nation to provide LGBTQ+ and gender inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, booklists and resources specifically designed for educators and youth-serving professionals.