Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
The author reads one of the books mentioned to her son. (Feldkamp family photo)

Kids who grow up never knowing anyone who is openly anything other than straight will struggle. Thanks to The Trevor Project, we know that LGBTQ kids lack access to affirming spaces. We also know that as a result, LGBTQ youth are at higher risk for self-harm and death by suicide.

Normalizing gayness is not just for the benefit of LGBTQ kids. Straight kids also need to grow up understanding that it’s a big, gay world out there and that being queer is not only OK but valued.

If LGBTQ kids lack affirming spaces, then straight kids also lack ally-affirming spaces. Showing a child what love and kindness looks like is not something children need to be a specific age to understand. Love is understood from Day One.

Universal love is not a big sit-down talk needing to be had. It lives in everyday understanding. It shows up in how you interact with the world around you — with all of its wonderful variances and differences.

A great place to celebrate human differences with children is during story time. We are all different and we are all worthy of love.

Here are three of my favorite children’s books that illustrate this nicely.


Neither, by Airlie Anderson, is a wonderful story of a creature that’s not quite a bunny and not quite a bird. It’s neither or perhaps both. This unique critter gets banished from a world that prefers either-or and goes on a trip to discover the Land of All.

This book could be about any and all differences found among humans. Told through the story of Neither, we learn empathy and acceptance. We learn that it’s not our job to tell someone who to be or that they don’t belong.

Everyone is welcome with kindness in the Land of All.

Red: A Crayon’s Story

In Michael Hall’s book, Red: A Crayon’s Story, Red is a crayon whose wrapper is red, but he is in fact blue.

Everyone around him tries to help him be the red crayon his wrapper presents, but he’s miserable until he is able to embrace his true self and reach his full potential as the color blue.

Grandad’s Camper

Grandad’s Camper, by Harry Woodgate, is a sweet story about a little girl who helps her grieving grandad by re-establishing the camping trips he went on with her Gramps.

Her Gramps and Grandad were very much in love and enjoyed their camping adventures together. The story never addresses the fact that Gramps and Grandad are gay. The book simply tells a wonderful love story and celebrates the relationship between two human beings.

Studies show us that literature fosters empathy in children. Peeking inside another person’s life, taking a short walk in another’s shoes, helps each of us gain perspective. Each story has a different lens.

During Pride Month, visit the library and help build better allies in the community through stories of universal love and kindness.

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a wife, mother of three kids, and the opinion editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisville Courier-Journal. She can be contacted at, followed through her YouTube channel and on Twitter: @WriterBonnie, or click here to learn more about her. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.