LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels for Tweens and Younger Tweens

I love graphic novels and I’ll never pass up an opportunity to promote them, because, despite what some snooty parents and teachers have told me at the library, graphic novels are real books, thank you very much, and can make for perfect summer reading fare. Here are just a handful on fantastic graphic novels to put on your reading list this summer.

Princess Princess Ever After

This utterly adorable graphic novel puts a much-needed spin on the traditional fairy tale by having the princess in distress be rescued by, and fall in love with, a fellow princess. Sweet, gentle, and perfect for princess-loving readers everywhere.

Lumberjanes

Friendship to the max! A group of awesome girls at a summer camp are determined to have the best summer ever….even if it means fighting some pretty strange supernatural creatures or embarking on crazy quests! There’s an wonderful range of identities in this series, and the stories are artwork are fantastic. Lumberjanes is a whole lot of fun, and deserves all the hype it’s been getting on the interwebs.

Goldie Vance

I’ve shared my love of lesbian teenage sleuth Goldie Vance before, so her appearance on this list should come as no surprise. Readers who enjoy a good mystery will enjoy this fresh series inspired by classic teen detectives like Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.

Skim

Being a teenager can be rough, especially when you don’t feel like you can be yourself, or that you even know yourself, for that matter. This period of realization, identity and crisis is explored in beautiful detail in the story of “Skim”, the name taken on by Japanese-Canadian “not slim” Wiccan high schooler Kim, who’s struggling to find herself, a process made even more complicated when she begins to develop feelings for a teacher.

Wandering Son

This manga series looks at the experiences of two children whose gender identities and expression challenge the more conservative cultural and social expectations of their community. Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki are two Japanese school children who struggle with their identities – one is a boy who feels like a girl, and the other is a girl who feels like a boy.

Interestingly, manga and anime featuring lesbian or gay romantic stories (百合 or やおい) is extremely common in Japan – as I’ve mentioned before, the first time I ever saw a lesbian couple on TV was in the anime Sailor Moon. While many of these series are targeted towards straight audiences and capitalize on the thrill of the forbidden “love that dare not speak its name”,  they can offer a means for creators and readers to push back against the prevalence of homophobia in society, and can even provide a lifeline for queer and questioning teens in a culture that is reluctant to even accept their existence. Shimura is noted for creating works that eschew the melodrama common in 百合 in favour of real stories – her series Sweet Blue Flowers, for example, was said to be “one of the most realistic portrayals of a young woman in love with another woman”.

Now these are just a few of the many incredible graphic novels for tweens and younger teens that include LGBTQ+ characters and content. What are some of your favourites??

This post was original posted on The Book Wars.

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LGBTQ+ Parents in Kids’ Books

Today I’m going to be sharing a handful of great books featuring children growing up with LGBTQ+ parents/caregivers. In particular, I’m looking for books that aren’t primarily about having two mums or two dads, but that feature same-sex parents as part of a larger story.

Here we go!

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The Popularity Papers – Amy Ignatow

This sweet series is perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and other heavily illustrated books. One of the series’ main characters, Julie Graham-Chang, is the adopted daughter of an incredibly loving and supportive pair of daddies, Papa Dad and Daddy.

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Harriet Gets Carried Away – Jessie Sima

Harriet loves costumes, and she never misses an opportunity to get dressed up. But while dressed as a penguin to help her daddies prepare for a birthday party, Harriet gets swept up by a flock of real penguins! Sweet, silly, and charmingly illustrated.

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The Purim Superhero – Elizabeth Kushner

Purim is coming, and Nate can’t decide on a costume! He really wants to dress up as an alien, but all his friends are going as aliens. Should Nate follow his own path, or fit in with everyone else? With the help of his two dads, Nate finds just the solution, and becomes the Purim superhero! Special note – the author is actually a fellow librarian and Vancouver resident!

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Baby’s First Words – Stella Blackstone, Sunny Scribens

This vocabulary primer follows a sweet baby and her two daddies as they go through their busy day. Great illustrations, lots of early vocabulary, and a loving two-daddy family.

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Freckleface Strawberry series – Julianne Moore

Freckleface Strawberry and her best friend, Windy Pants Patrick, are totally different. She short, he’s tall. She’s a girl, he’s a boy. She has a mom and a dad, he has two moms. They’re just too different to be friends….right? Wrong! These two discover that best friends don’t have to have everything in common to like each other.

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My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer – Jennifer Ganari

June is a master pie maker, and she’s determined to win this year’s Champlain Valley Fair pie competition. But when June’s mother’s girlfriend moves in, and the family starts receiving bullying and backlash that threatens their business, June won’t give up on her dreams, or her loving family.

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The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher – Dana Alison Levy

Two patient daddies, four active, lovable boys, countless crazy adventures! This is a charming family story that fans of Beverly Cleary’s Quimby family will love.

Are there any great books with LGBTQ+ parents that I should check out? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

National Indigenous Peoples Day: A Book List

Celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day by reading some of these Indigenous LGBTQ2S authors!

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This Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to “cut a hole in the sky to world inside.” Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where “everyone is at least a little gay.”

Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir by Deborah A. Miranda

This book leads readers through a troubled past using the author’s family circle as a touch point and resource for discovery. Personal and strong, these stories present an evocative new view of the shaping of California and the lives of Indians during the Mission period in California. The result is a work of literary art that is wise, angry and playful all at once.

Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway

Born into a magical Cree world in snowy northern Manitoba, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis are all too soon torn from their family and thrust into the hostile world of a Catholic residential school. Their language is forbidden, their names are changed to Jeremiah and Gabriel, and both boys are abused by priests.

As young men, estranged from their own people and alienated from the culture imposed upon them, the Okimasis brothers fight to survive. Wherever they go, the Fur Queen–a wily, shape-shifting trickster–watches over them with a protective eye. For Jeremiah and Gabriel are destined to be artists. Through music and dance they soar.

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Walking with Ghosts: Poems by Qwo-Li Driskill

Written from a contemporary Cherokee, Queer and mixed-race experience, these poems confront a legacy of land-theft, genocide, and forced removal, and resist ongoing attacks on both Indigenous and Gay/ Lesbian/ Bisexual /Transgender communities. Tender, startling, confrontational and erotic, this book honors the dead and brings the survivors back home.

Not Vanishing by Chrystos

Passionate, vital poetry by acclaimed Native American writer and activist Chrystos addresses self-esteem and survival, the loving of women, and pride in her heritage.

The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice

Taking fantasy literature beyond the stereotypes, Daniel Heath Justice’s acclaimed Thorn and Thunder novels are set in a world resembling eighteenth-century North America. The original trilogy is available here for the first time as a fully revised one-volume novel. The story of the struggle for the green world of the Everland, home of the forest-dwelling Kyn, is an adventure tale that bends genre and gender.

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Passage by Gwen Benaway

In her second collection of poetry, Passage, Gwen Benaway examines what it means to experience violence and speaks to the burden of survival. Traveling to Northern Ontario and across the Great Lakes, Passage is a poetic voyage through divorce, family violence, legacy of colonization, and the affirmation of a new sexuality and gender. Previously published as a man, Passage is the poet’s first collection written as a transwoman. Striking and raw in sparse lines, the collection showcases a vital Two Spirited identity that transects borders of race, gender, and experience. In Passage, the poet seeks to reconcile herself to the land, the history of her ancestors, and her separation from her partner and family by invoking the beauty and power of her ancestral waterways. Building on the legacy of other ground-breaking Indigenous poets like Gregory Scofield and Queer poets like Tim Dlugos, Benaway’s work is deeply personal and devastating in sharp, clear lines. Passage is a book burning with a beautiful intensity and reveals Benaway as one of the most powerful emerging poets writing in Indigenous poetics today.

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

“You’re gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine” is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez,” and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny’s world is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages–and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby

A Two-Spirit Journey is Ma-Nee Chacaby’s extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. From her early, often harrowing memories of life and abuse in a remote Ojibwa community riven by poverty and alcoholism, Chacaby’s story is one of enduring and ultimately overcoming the social, economic, and health legacies of colonialism.

As a child, Chacaby learned spiritual and cultural traditions from her Cree grandmother and trapping, hunting, and bush survival skills from her Ojibwa stepfather. She also suffered physical and sexual abuse by different adults, and by her teen years she was alcoholic herself. At twenty, Chacaby moved to Thunder Bay with her children to escape an abusive marriage. Abuse, compounded by racism, continued, but Chacaby found supports to help herself and others. Over the following decades, she achieved sobriety; trained and worked as an alcoholism counselor; raised her children and fostered many others; learned to live with visual impairment; and came out as a lesbian. In 2013, Chacaby led the first gay pride parade in her adopted city, Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humor, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people.

Recently Released and Upcoming LGBTQ+ Middle Grade Books

I love getting reader’s advisory questions at work for LGBTQ+ literature. Picture books? Got you covered. YA? Huge list. Adult? No problem.

Middle grade? Ehhhh…

We have certainly come leaps and strides in the last several years in regards to the quantity and quality of LGBTQ+ books, but there is unfortunately still a gap in Middle Grade (ages 9-12) LGBTQ+ material. When kids have moved beyond picture books but aren’t yet ready for the teen collection, there isn’t a whole lot we can provide for them. Sure, there are a few, like George by Alex Gino, The Lottery’s Plus One by Emma Donoghue, and Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee, so it’s not like nothing exists in the genre, but there is definitely not the variety we have with other age groups.

However, 2018 is here to the rescue! We’ve got a plethora of recently released and upcoming MG LGBTQ+ books this year!

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One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock (Published February 27, 2018)

A heartening story of two girls who discover their friendship is something more. But how, among their backward town, will Sam and Allie face what they know is true about themselves?

Welcome to Daniel Boone Middle School in the 1970s, where teachers and coaches must hide who they are, and girls who like girls are forced to question their own choices. Presented in the voice of a premier storyteller, One True Way sheds exquisite light on what it means to be different, while at the same time being wholly true to oneself. Through the lives and influences of two girls, readers come to see that love is love is love. Set against the backdrop of history and politics that surrounded gay rights in the 1970s South, this novel is a thoughtful, eye-opening, look at tolerance, acceptance, and change, and will widen the hearts of all readers.

 

P.S. I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy (Published March 6, 2018)

Eleven-year-old Evie is heartbroken when her strict Catholic parents send her pregnant sister away to stay with a distant great-aunt. All Evie wants is for her older sister to come back. But when her parents forbid her to even speak to Cilla, she starts sending letters. Evie writes letters about her family, torn apart and hurting. She writes about her life, empty without Cilla. And she writes about the new girl in school, June, who becomes her friend, and then maybe more than a friend.

As she becomes better friends with June, Evie begins to question her sexual orientation. She can only imagine what might happen if her parents found out who she really is. She could really use some advice from Cilla. But Cilla isn’t writing back.

 

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (Published March 6, 2018)

When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.

Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

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A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers (Published March 13, 2018)

Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher loves possibilities: the possibility that she’ll see whales on the beach near her new home, the possibility that the trans­gender boy she just met will become her new best friend, the possibility that the paparazzi hounding her celebrity father won’t force them to move again. Most of all, Nat dreams of the possibility that her faraway mother misses her, loves her, and is just waiting for Nat to find her.

But how can Nat find her mother if she doesn’t even know who she is? She abandoned Nat as a baby, and Nat’s dad refuses to talk about it. Nat knows she shouldn’t need a mom, but she still feels like something is missing, and her questions lead her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life forever.

 

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender (Published March 27, 2018)

Twelve-year-old Caroline is a Hurricane Child, born on Water Island during a storm. Coming into this world during a hurricane is unlucky, and Caroline has had her share of bad luck already. She’s hated by everyone in her small school, she can see things that no one else can see, and — worst of all — her mother left home one day and never came back. With no friends and days filled with heartache, Caroline is determined to find her mother.

When a new student, Kalinda, arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, seems to see the things Caroline sees, too. Joined by their common gift, Kalinda agrees to help Caroline look for her mother, starting with a mysterious lady dressed in black. Soon, they discover the healing power of a close friendship between girls.

 

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (Expected Publication: June 26, 2018)

Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat.

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse.

Now, she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself falling for a girl at camp named Adeline. To top it off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock ‘n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

 

My Life as a Diamond by Jenny Manzer (Expected Publication: September 15, 2018)

Ten-year-old Caspar “Caz” Cadman loves baseball and has a great arm. He loves the sounds, the smells, the stats. When his family moves from Toronto to a suburb of Seattle, the first thing he does is try out for the local summer team, the Redburn Ravens. Even though Caz is thrilled when he makes the team, he worries because he has a big secret.

No one knows that back in Toronto, Caz used to live life as a girl named Cassandra. And it’s nobody’s business. Caz will tell his new friends when he’s ready.

But when a player on a rival team starts snooping around, Caz’s past is revealed, and Caz worries it will be Toronto all over again.

Will Caz’s teammates rally behind their star pitcher? Or will Caz be betrayed once more?

A heartwarming, funny, fast-paced story about the bravery it takes to live as your true self, no matter the cost.

 

 

 

Sixth Annual Bisexual Book Awards Winners!

Winners are in bold.

Non-Fiction

  • Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager, HarperCollins
  • Unconditional: A Guide to Loving and Supporting Your LGBTQ Child by Telaina Eriksen, Mango Media
  • Young Bisexual Women’s Experiences in Secondary Schools by Mary-Anne McAllum, Routledge

 

Memoir/Biography  

Tie:       

  • First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger, Faber & Faber
  • A Girl Walks Into a Book by Miranda Pennington, Seal Press/Hachette Book Group
  • What the Mouth Wants: A Memoir of Food, Love and Belonging by Monica Meneghetti, Dagger Editions/Caitlin Press

 

Fiction

  • The Change Room by Karen Connelly, Random House / PenguinRandomHouse
  • Enigma Variations by André Aciman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, Graywolf Press
  • Keeping the Faith by A.M. Leibowitz, Supposed Crimes
  • The Mathematics of Change by Amanda Kabak, Brain Mill Press
  • Pages For Her: A Novel by Sylvia Brownrigg, Counterpoint

 

Romance

  • Back To You by Chris Scully, Riptide Publishing
  • Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen, Dreamspinner Press
  • Bonfires by Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press
  • By the Currwong’s Call by Welton B. Marsland, Escape Publishing/ Harlequin Enterprises Australia
  • Strays (Urban Soul 2) by Garrett Leigh, Riptide Publishing
  • Summer Stock by Vanessa North, Riptide Publishing

 

Erotic Fiction

  • Cast From the Earth by Leandra Vane, Self-Published
  • Michael’s Wings by Tiffany Reisz, 8th Circle Press
  • Rescues and the Rhyssa by TS Porter, Less Than Three Press
  • The Shape of Veronica by Stephanie Bull, Tau Press

Speculative Fiction  [Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror/Etc.]

  • Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron, Entangled Teen
  • Passing Strange by Ellen Klages, Tor Books
  • Rescues and the Rhyssa by TS Porter, Less Than Three Press
  • The Rules and Regulations For Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens, Duet Books/Interlude Press
  • Run In The Blood by A.E. Ross, NineStar Press
  • The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember, Duet/Interlude Press

 

Teen/Young Adult Fiction

  • Being Roy by Julie Aitcheson, Harmony Ink Press
  • Grrrls on the Side by Carrie Pack, Duet Books/Interlude Press
  • I Hate Everyone But You by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, Wednesday Books
  • In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan, Big Mouth House/Small Beer Press
  • The Rules and Regulations For Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens, Duet Books/Interlude Press

 

Mystery

  • Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt & Cari Z, Riptide Publishing
  • Suspicious Behavior by L.A. Witt & Cari Z, Riptide Publishing

 

Poetry

  • Primates from an Archipelago by Irene Suico Soriano, Rabbit Fool Press
  • Truth Be Bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS by Julene Tripp Weaver, Finishing Line Press

 

Publisher of the Year

Tie:

  • Dreamspinner Press
  • Duet Books/Interlude Press
  • Less Than Three Press
  • Riptide Publishing

 

Bi Writer of the Year

{authors listed alphabetically by last name}

  • Sylvia Brownrigg (Fiction) Pages For Her, Counterpoint
  • Karen Connelly (Fiction) The Change Room, Random House/ PenguinRandomHouse
  • Carmen Maria Machado (Fiction) Her Body and Other Parties, Graywolf Press
  • Monica Meneghetti (Memoir/Bio) What the Mouth Wants: A Memoir of Food, Love and Belonging, Dagger Editions/Caitlin Press
  • Peggy Seeger (Memoir/Bio) First Time Ever, Faber & Faber

 

{Finalists for Bi Writer of the Year are chosen in consultation with the judges by the Director}

Working with LGBTQ2s+ Families Workshop

A colleague of mine, Jean Broughton, recently attended a workshop on working with LGBTQ+ families, and has kindly allowed me to re-post their report on it here!


I attended Working with LGBTQ2S+ families, a two-day workshop offered by Westcoast Childcare Resource Centre and facilitated by Qmunity. Qmunity is currently (April 2018) auditing WCCRC’s library for inclusivity and adding more LGBTQ2S books (see list below).

Most workshop participants were Early Childhood Educators from different preschools, especially neighbourhood houses.

Day 1 focused on terminology used by LGBTQ2S individuals and families to describe themselves. Those definitions are available here. (Note that this document is currently being updated.) The major takeaway was that you should mirror the language used by the individual.

We also learned about the binary model: female genitals = girl/woman identity = feminine expression = attracted to men. In this model, each category has exactly two options. However, in life, none of these are binaries. People may be intersex, be attracted to people of many genders or attracted to nobody at all, identify as a gender different than the one they were assigned at birth, and so on.

The Gender Unicorn is a more nuanced tool that individuals can use to describe their gender. It can be used with children.

On Day 2, we practiced using they/them/their pronouns to talk about one person. Some workshop participants found this very challenging and the practice was helpful in getting used to using “they” in a context where messing up wasn’t a big deal.

We were also encouraged to think about ways in which gendered or heterosexist assumptions are coded into our spaces. For example, are the costumes divided into boy and girl costumes? Is the dress-up corner near the kitchen and far from the blocks? Are children asked to divide themselves into groups by gender? In a library context, we might think about representation and gender in the stories we read and the songs we sing. What kinds of families are represented in the posters around our spaces?

We also talked about gender non-conforming children. The preschool years are a time when children explore their gender, and it is normal for them to experiment. It is important for them to be supported in their exploration and to hold off on making determinations about their gender. The three key words for recognizing a transgender child are persistent, insistent, and consistent in stating that their gender does not match what they were assigned at birth. ECE workers see themselves as acting as advocates for children, especially when a child is exploring gender in ways that make the parents uncomfortable, such as when all of the children want to paint their nails.

Other resources that were mentioned:

QTBIPOC Road Map (Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous and People of Colour): graphic synthesis of a discussion between 50 Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit youth of colour from across BC about available services and service gaps. The library is not mentioned, but there are definitely some needs we can fill!

Two Spirit Resource Directory, developed by Harlen Pruden, VPL board member. East Coast in focus, but still useful.

A Map of Gender Diverse Cultures: PBS resource exploring cultures that have always recognized multiple genders.

Qmunity hosts a drop in for LGBTQ2S youth drops-ins for ages 14-25, and tween drop-ins for ages 10-14 with their parents. These are staffed by Youth Workers. They also offer counselling and referrals.


Westcoast Childcare Resource Centre offers a variety of workshops typically aimed at “parents, Early Learning and Child Care Professionals, and others working with young children and their families.” Their office is located in Vancouver, although they do occasionally offer webcasts or webinars. To see a list of their upcoming workshops, click here.