PRIDE, The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno
Random House Children’s Books, 2018

Many kids encounter the rainbow equality flag, but not many know the history of the Pride flag and the early struggles for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States.  Told with welcoming text and colorful panoramic illustrations, this is a perfect introductory history of both the Pride flag and Harvey Milk’s part in its creation.  The text with illustrations is simple enough for young learners (kindergarten through 3rd grade) yet the story also provides opportunities for more in-depth discussions for older learners (3rd through 6th grade).  It can be difficult to find well written biographies of prominent gay rights advocates written for the elementary school audience, which makes this book special.  If your child is asked to read a biography for a school assignment, this is an excellent choice.

Excerpts from the book:

Harvey Milk was an ordinary man, but he had an extraordinary dream.  That dream would change history.  He dreamed that everyone – even gay people – would have equality.  He dreamed that he and his friends would be treated like everyone else.  He dreamed that one day, people would be able to live and love as they pleased. 

In 1977, Harvey Milk took a big step toward that dream when he became one of the first openly gay people to be elected to political office in the United States.   Harvey and his friends planned marches to protest inequality and unfair laws.  And just days before one of the marches, Harvey had an idea.  A symbol, he thought.  We need a symbol that shows who we are and how we feel.  Something to carry during the march, something to make people feel they’re part of a community.  Something to give people hope.  Something extraordinary.

On June 25, 1978, the very first Pride Flag unfurled in San Francisco.  The original flag, designed and created by an artist named Gilbert Baker and a group of volunteers, had eight stripes.  From top to bottom, they were hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo/blue, and violet.  The Rainbow Flag today includes just six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, royal blue, and violet.  This Rainbow Flag now unfurls on farms, in suburbs, and in cities.  It flies proudly outside public buildings, hotels, shops, restaurants, churches, and homes.  The Rainbow Flag makes LGBTQ+ people feel a sense of pride and hope.  The Rainbow Flag stands for equality.

There are sections at the back of this book which include biographical notes and timelines for those who want to learn more about the Rainbow Flag, Harvey Milk, Gilbert Baker, and about June 26, 2015, the day that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that LGBTQ+ people have a constitutional right to marry.  On this day, the White House was lit up in the colors of the rainbow.

LGBTQ+ history isn’t always taught in elementary school, which makes this book important to share with children ages 5 through 12 years.  Award-winning author Rob Sander’s stirring text, and acclaimed illustrator Steven Salerno’s engaging illustrations combine to tell a remarkable story of love, hope, equality, and pride.

This book review was submitted by Stand with Trans board member Barb Shumer, who is a retired public librarian.

Mailing Address

23332 Farmington Rd #84
Farmington, MI 48336