I was starting to think about a Saturday Roundup but after Friday's landmark decision about legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, I decided to do a roundup of LGTBQ books I have read and used. June is Gay Pride month and this year there certainly is much to celebrate and since today is the big Pride parade in cities around the country, so it seemed only appropriate to begin my Pride roundup with
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Magination Press, 2014, 32 pages, age 5+
In short rhymes, the diversity and excitement of the Pride parade is perfectly captured, as is the joyous mood of all the participants. The energetic, colorful illustrations are whimsical visual representations of the rhymes. The back matter contains a reading guide and notes to parents and teachers. FYI: Magination Press is an imprint of the American Psychological Association.
Daddy, Papa, and Me by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson
Tricycle Press, 2009, age 0-3
Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson
Tricycle Press, 2008, ages 0-3
Each of these board books details in rhyme the activities done with each their same-sex parents, from painting and baking to making music and playing pretend. These are great books for kids who do have same-sex parents and for kids who have friends who may have two dads or two moms and wonder what is it like in their family.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Laura Cornell
Candlewick Press, 1989, 2015, 32 pages, age 3+
Heather's favorite number is two and the reader is shown all the things that she likes two of, including her two moms. But when one of the kids in school asks what her daddy does, Heather doesn't have an answer. The teacher suggests the kids draw pictures of their family and it turns out that Heather is in a class full of kids from diverse families. This book caused such a hoopla in the NYC schools when it came out and now it seems like just another good kid's book.
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
Chronicle Books, 2015, 36 pages, age 5+
Stella has two daddies, so when the teacher announces there is going to be a Mother's Day celebration and all mothers are invited to come, she doesn't know who to bring. When Jonathan asks Stella who kisses her when she get hurt, she decides to bring everyone in her family who does that.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino,
illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Groundwood Books, 2015, 32 pages, age 4+
Morris loves to play and imagine all kinds of fun things. He also loves school, particularly the dress-up corner and the tangerine dress there, which he puts on every day. But when the other boys won't let him play spaceship if he's wearing the dress. Feeling hurt and lonely, Morris decides to stay home from school. At home, he uses his imagination to paint a picture of a spaceship, a blue elephant and tangerine tiger after he dreams about them. When he goes back to school and starts to build the spaceship of his dream, the other boys get curious and invite him to play with them - tangerine dress and all(which would be nail polish his mother put on him). A nice story about being different, and the comfort of having support but also about the hurt and loneliness of being left out.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell,
illustrated by Henry Cole
Simon & Schuster, 2005, 2015, 32 pages, age 4+
There's a wonderful penguin house in the Central Park Zoo and that's where this family story takes place. Roy and Silo, two male penguins, appear to really be in love, and really want a little penguin of their own. After a few false starts trying to hatch a rock, they find an abandoned egg. They care for the egg, as male penguins do, and when the egg hatches, it is a little female named Tango by the zookeepers. The soft watercolor illustrations capture all the emotions of any parents trying to have a baby and the joy they feel when it finally happens.
King & King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
Random House, 2003, 32 pages, age 5+
When it is time for the Prince Bertie to marry, he tells his mother that he never really cared much for princesses, but his parents keep bringing eligible royal girls for him to meet anyway. One princess arrives at the castle with her brother, Prince Lee, and Prince Bertie realizes he has finally met the love of his life, The feeling is mutual and the two princes' marry. I don't care for the illustrations, but the idea behind the story is nice.
King & King & Family by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
Random House, 2004, 32 pages, age 5+
King & King take a honeymoon trip to the jungle and have a wonderful time. Still, all through their tropical trip they have the sensation they are being followed. When they arrive home, they discover the stowaway orphan girl in their bags. They realize they want to have a family, set about adopting the little girl and call her Princess Daisy. The same kind of illustrations as the first book, but again a nice story about a diverse family.
Red, A Crayon's Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall
HarperCollins, 2015, 40 pages, age 4+
I loved Red, A Crayon's Story when I read it and wish I had it while I was still a classroom teacher. I included it simply because it speaks to anyone who has ever felt different, anyone who has ever felt like they were born in the wrong wrapper (skin).
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Simon & Schuster, 2013, 275 pages, age 9+
Nate loves musicals and he dream is to be in one on Broadway. When he hears about a casting call for ET, the Musical, Nate takes a bus by himself from PA to NYC to audition. There's lots of humor and nice behind the scenes bits of a Broadway show audition, but it isn't all fun for Nate. While Nate is a really likable character, he has often experienced the meaness of others for being who he is. Nate is also becoming aware of his own sexuality, but really isn't ready to commit to anything just yet.
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
Simon & Schuster, 2014, 304 pages, age 9+
Well, Nate got a small part in ET, the Musical and now he's staying in NYC with his aunt, a former actress. He is still the wonderful musical theater geek he always was, but now he gives the reader lots of detail about Broadway show rehearsals, and the different people you meet there. He is beginning to realize more that he is perhaps not attracted to girls as much as he is to boys, but has still decided to defer a final decision. I loved both of these books and only wish Nate with revisit Tim Federle for a third installment.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
Random House, 2014, 272 pages, age 9+
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher takes place over one school year and introduces the reader to a family similar to their own, but more diverse. There are two dads and four adopted boys ages 6, 10, 10 and 12. The story is written like a series of vignettes that show how each character grows and develops during the year. I wrote that here is no big drama to the story of the Fletcher family, just everyday life, and yet, it will keep you riveted.
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
DisneyHyperion, 2014, 256 pages, age 9+
Sixth grader Grayson has known since he was a young that he was really a girl in a boy's body, but could never express it publicly. Not until an understanding teacher cast him in the female lead role in the school play. Grayson is looking forward to at least being himself on stage, but is unprepared for the repercussions of the teacher's decision not only among the school bullies but also among parents and other teachers.
George by Alex Gino
Scholastic, 2015, 240 pages, age 9+
OK, I cheated on this one, only because I haven't read it yet, but I do have an ARC from BEA, where there was lots of buzz about this debut novel. It is the story of George, a girl in a boy's body. That's all I really know about George, except that I can't wait to read it.
Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis
Pajama Press, 2014, 224 pages, 13+
This historical fiction novel takes place in 1988 Tehran. The conservative government has outlawed same-sex relationships and it doesn't matter how old or young you are, if caught in one, it means death. So when wealthy Farrin, 15, falls for Sadira, a poorer student at her girls' school, and the feeling is mutual, both girls know the price could pay. This is a hard, gritty novel, but shouldn't be missed if you haven't already read it.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
HarperCollins, 2013, 470 pages, 14+
In this debut coming of age novel, Cameron realizes she is gay and falls for new-to-town Coley Taylor. The two have in intense relationship, but eventually Cameron is outed to her family and finds herself in a religious conversion camp called God's Promise. I found Cameron a bit too passive a main character for my taste, which I think made the book hard to read. But I thought the part about the conversion camp an important part of this novel. This is a hard-hitting novel but one I actually do think teens should read.
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson
Penguin, 1995, 2010, 144 pages, age 12+
Melanin Sun, 13, records all his thoughts in his notebooks, including his thoughts about his mom. The two are pretty close but lately she's been a bit distant and secretive. When she announces that she's gay, Melanin is totally thrown for a loop, but there's more shock to come - his mother's new girlfriend is white. Now, Melanin has to deal with things at home as well as taunts from other kids, and the judgements of neighbors. Melanin is forced to critically look at himself before he can accept things.
The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson
Penguin, 1997, 2010, 144 pages, age 12+
Stagerlee, 14, is the daughter of a biracial couple. She's always been a bit of a loner, feeling different from her sister and from her classmates, who want nothing to do with her anyway. Now, Stagerlee is questioning her sexuality but has no one to talk to about it until her cousin Trout comes to visit. The two become fast friends and Trout helps Stagerlee begin to explore who she really is - gay or straight, black or white or just who she is.
Ash by Malinda Lo
Little, Brown, 2009, 272 pages, 14+
This is a retelling of the Cinderella story, with a difference. After Ash's father dies, she is left to the mercy of a wicked stepmother. Her only relief is reading fairy tales and the occasional nighttime trips into a wood filled with fairies. There, Ash meets a huntress named Kaisa, who she finds herself attracted to and wishes to spend more time with her. This is such a beautifully written story and the relationship between Ash and Kaisa is so lyrically, almost magically narrated, presenting their relationship as the most natural thing in the world.
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Little, Brown, 2011, 384 pages, 14+
In this coming of age story, schoolgirls Kaede and Taisin must journey together into a dark, threatening wood to see the Fairy Queen for help when nature goes out of balance. Taisin is attracted to Kaede, but had a vision of losing her, so her is reluctant in getting involved. When that doesn't feel right, Kaede realizes she must find harmony in her own life and do what is right for her - which is loving Taisin. I thought this was such a beautifully written novel, lyrically and magically written in the same vein as Ash.
Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum
Penguin, 2015, 128 pages, age 12+
Here is a brief, but concise history of the Stonewall riots in 1969 that started the gay right movement. Bausam gives a detailed account of what being gay was like in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was a criminal offense, before moving on to describe the night of June 27, 1969, when the grungy gay bar called the Stonewall Inn was raided and the violent demonstrations that followed that night. Bausam uses lots of photographs and documents, as well as first person accounts. A great book for anyone who doesn't know the history and the how or why Pride happens every year.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Candlewick Press, 2014, 192 pages, age 14+
Six transgender or gender-neutral teens were interviewed and their personal journeys toward becoming their authentic selves are documented with respect and dignity. Kuklin doesn't sugarcoat the isolation, the challenges, lack of support and supportive services for teens who are transitioning. On the other hand, the book in not without humor and poignancy. There is a Question and Answer section at the end of the book, as well a Glossary, Author Note's and list of resources. Kuklin is a gifted photographer and includes many photographs in the book.