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!

1

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?

2

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.

 

 

 

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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.

Reflecting on Freedom to Read Week

Freedom to Read Week brings up mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I relish the opportunity to challenge literary censorship and put some of my favourite books on display. On the other hand, it can be sobering to reflect on the types of books I’m putting out. The term “banned books” conjures images of salacious and violent classics like The Scarlet Letter or The Lord of the Flies, their banning a distant memory. In reality, books are still being challenged in libraries and schools, and a great deal of them are due to LGBTQ+ content.

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom publishes annual lists of the top ten most challenged books, and half of the 2016 titles (the most recent available list) have been challenged over LGBTQ+ content.

These include:

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

This One Summer

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama

George by Alex Gino

George

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas

I Am Jazz

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

Previous years include many LGBTQ+ titles as well, such as

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

 

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

(This title in particular has been on the list many years running, despite being based on a true story.)

And Tango Makes Three

It seems you could point at essentially any LGBTQ+ title, especially children’s or young adult, and it is likely to have been banned or challenged at some point.

Freedom to Read Kit

Canada is not immune from these challenges either. In this year’s Freedom to Read Kit, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies professor Rob Bittner discusses the challenges that are frequently levied against children’s books with LGBTQ+ content. His article “You’re Letting My Kids Read What?!” explores the backlash and moral panic that often occurs when these books pop up in libraries and classrooms.

So, while I delighted in watching LGBTQ+ titles fly off the shelves this past week (marking them as banned really does seem to make them more enticing), it was with the heavy knowledge that these books are still under attack, especially when they have younger target audiences. However, it really makes me appreciate connecting with library professionals, academics, and other community members who are fighting for the acknowledgement and acceptance of LGBTQ+ literature for all ages.

2018 Rainbow Book List

Rainbow-Top-Ten-768x465

The American Library Association’s GLBT Roundtable has released its annual Rainbow List. The list is “curated bibliography highlighting books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content, aimed at children and youth from birth to age 18.” All books on the list were published between July 2016 and December 2017.

For the full list, see under the cut.

Read More »

Canada Reads 2018 Longlist

The longlist for the 2018 Canada Reads competition was announced on January 16th, and there are two queer reads represented, Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote and The Clothesline Swing by Ahmad Danny Ramadan.

The shortlist of five books will be announced January 30th, with debates happening March 26-29.

Read more about Ivan Coyote here, and more about Ahmad Danny Ramadan here and here.