Being a teenager sucks.
Especially when you're not seeing your story told. (And told well.)
That’s probably why so many customers ask us about good books for teens and kids with LGBTQ characters. So, we did our research and found a whole bunch of new, exciting literature that represents gender identity and sexuality in authentic and diverse ways. Check ‘em out:
1. The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang
This is the modern fairytale we’ve been waiting for. Meet Frances, a very talented seamstress and her most illustrious client: Lady Crystallia AKA the drag queen fashionista everyone’s talking about AKA the crown Prince Sebastian. This is a heartwarming, beautifully-illustrated story that delivers everything you want it to.
2. George by Alex Gino
George does not want to play the character everybody assumes they are playing in the upcoming production of Charlotte’s Web. What seems like a major road block becomes an opportunity for George to reveal herself for who she truly is. A super sweet and critically-celebrated middle reader debut by Alex Gino.
3. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
Eighth graders Lily Jo McGrother and Dunkin Dorfman show us readers what it really means to have a friend. Both face extremely difficult issues and find refuge in the adventure of being together. Lily is a trans girl on the edge of high school while Dunkin is learning to deal with his bipolar disorder at a brand new school. Gephart portrays these vivid characters with both wisdom and joy.
4. Gracefully Grayson by Amy Polonsky
Grayson’s interior life does not match their outer life. While their school environment seems too hostile for Grayson to show who she really is, Grayson unexpectedly meets friends and a nurturing teacher who courageously open the door. Kirkus described Gracefully Grayson as: “A courageous story filled with hope.”
5. Picture us in the Light
by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Picture Us in the Light starts with Danny just as his dreams are coming true. He’s been accepted to a prestigious art school in Providence, Rhode Island with his parents’ blessing but the rest of his life is up in the air. For one, his best friend Harry (who he wishes were more than a friend) is dating his other best friend Regina. Picture us in the Light is a wonderful book that actually feels like real life.
6. Skim by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki
Skim is a very special book. It is both visually immersive and at the same time literary. A wonderfully detailed and achy portrayal of teenhood. Skim, (or Kimberly) is a timid Catholic-schoolgirl who grapples with young-adulthood through the suicide of a peer, questions of sexuality, frenemy-ship and even a bit of witchcraft.
7. Spinning by Tillie Walden
A graphic memoir that’s irresistibly bittersweet and moving. Tillie tells her story of coming into her sexuality and independence with beautiful art and genuine introspection. One of our favorite graphic novels of the year.
8. On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
(Yes, we love Tillie Walden this much). On a Sunbeam is an epic sci-fi love story with brilliant world-building and intertwining timelines. For any young teen with an appetite for the sentimental and adventurous.
9. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
Hilarious and adventurous. This is a book about superheroes and young love. A balancing between good and evil and something in between. Trying to be somebody and finding yourself in the throws of new adventure and emotion. So fun! Don’t miss.
10. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun
by Jacqueline Woodson
One of Jacqueline Woodson’s earlier works, this poignant story does a great job of showing the complexity and tenderness of a young boy’s journey towards accepting his mother’s new partner and sexuality. Woodson is one of the great children’s and YA authors of our time. People will be reading Woodson’s oeuvre for a long time to come and From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun is no exception.
11. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
So funny and unique in only the way that Rainbow Rowell can do. Carry On is the story of two confused magicians with a wicked sense of humor and who are trying to navigate the vampires, ghosts and hostile forces that abound at their school. Simon is maybe not so good at magic, and maybe not so good at life either, but nevertheless he finds love and adventure and we, the readers, have a great time going along for the ride.