Rainbow Book List - GLBTQ Books for Children & Teens
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28th Jan 13

The year 2012 will be remembered as an important landmark in the struggle for GLBTQ rights. On the one hand, national and state elections polarized attitudes and big business took sides on GLBTQ issues. At the same time, marriage equality saw major wins in four battleground states, the President of the United States came out in support of gay marriage, and the 113th Congress welcomed six openly gay and bisexual members into its halls.  In this changing and hopeful political climate, the Rainbow Project proudly announces their 2013 Rainbow Book List.

The committee members evaluated over 150 books published between July 2011 and December 2012, aimed at youth, birth through 18. Forty-nine books from 31 publishers were selected for the 2013 Rainbow Book List. Small, independent, and large publishers as well as self-published authors drew the interest of the committee with genres ranging from science fiction to gritty short stories, realistic fiction to graphic novels, and even a picture book bending gender roles. While there is a vast array of young adult fiction titles, non-fiction for any age, including memoirs and history so vital to tying a culture together, is still sparse.

Some nominated books were not selected for the final list because the intended audience was not young readers. Two of these titles stand out because they include information important for GLBTQ youth and those who work with and support them. These two were Rainbow Collections: Selecting and Using Children’s Books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Content, by Jaime Campbell Naidoo and Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children, by Rachel Pepper.

The 2011-12 Rainbow Project committee consisted of Francesca Burgess, Jane L. Cothron, Christie L. R. Gibrich (incoming chair, 2014), Christine Jenkins, Adela Peskorz, Victor Lynn Schill, and Anna C. White.

GLBTRT is committed to encouraging and supporting the free and necessary access to all information, as reflected by the missions of the American Library Association and democratic institutions. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association is committed to serving the information needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender professional library community, and the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender information and access needs of individuals at large.

Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT), a unit within the American Library Association, works to make ALA more democratic and to establish progressive priorities not only for the Association, but also for the entire profession. Concern for human and economic rights was an important element in the founding of SRRT and remains an urgent concern today. SRRT believes that libraries and librarians must recognize and help solve social problems and inequities in order to carry out their mandate to work for the common good and bolster democracy. SRRT’s main Web site is hosted at http://libr.org/SRRT.

Titles marked with an asterisk (*) are a Top Ten Title.


Picture Books

Schwartz, Amy. Willie and Uncle Bill. 2012. 40p. Holiday House, $16.95 (9780823422036). Grades K-2.
Queering the picture book, Willie’s Uncle Bill takes him on adventures to the hairdresser, cooking Icky Stew, and rocking out with The Purple Tomatoes

Juvenile fiction

Gennari, Jennifer. My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer. 2012. 119p. Houghton Mifflin, $15.99 (9780547577395). Grades 4-6.
Twelve-year-old June dislikes her mother’s new partner Eva and is dismayed when the two adults plan to marry. When a movement to repeal Vermont’s civil union law exposes the family to bitter homophobia June discovers an inner courage that surprises her family, her community, and herself.

Middle/Early Young Adult Fiction

Calin, Marisa. Between You & Me. 2012. 256p. Bloomsbury USA, $16.99 (9781599907581). Grades 6 & Up.
When Phyre falls head over heels in love with her new drama teacher, will she discover what’s right in front of her nose or let love slip away?

Cashore, Kristin. Bitterblue. 2012. 576p. Penguin, $19.99 (9780803734739). Grades 7 & Up.
Eight years after the death of her father, the young Queen Bitterblue finds herself and her kingdom mired in secrets left over from his abusive reign.

Coyote, Ivan E. One in Every Crowd:  Stories. 2012. 238p. Arsenal Pulp Press, $15.95 (9781551524597). Grades 8 & Up.
Autobiographical stories about growing up as a tomboy and queer kid in Yukon, showing the fear and struggle along with acceptance kindness, and that everyone has insecurities.

*Cronn-Mills, Kirstin. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. 2012. 288p. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., $9.99 (9780738732510). Grades 8 & Up.
Music geek Gabe has just come out to his family as transgender but is still known as Liz at school. He uses his late night community radio show to try on his male identity and encourage listeners to explore their own identity. Will the show’s growing popularity expose his secret?

Davis, Tanita S. Happy Families. 2012. 240p.  Random House Children’s, $16.99 (9780375869662). Grades 6 & Up.
When twins Ysabel and Justin discover the true reason for their family’s split, they struggle with the secrets their father has been keeping. Can they deal with their dad’s new life and find a way to put their happy family back together?

Franklin, Emily & Brendan Halpin.  Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom.  2012.  272p.  Walker & Company, $16.99 (9780802723451).  Grades 8 & Up.
Lucas and Tessa are friends forever, and now Lucas realizes they are something more – until his prom invitation is Tessa’s cue to come out to him, and put the entire town on notice that she wants a date of her own.

George, Madeleine.  The Difference Between You and Me.  2012.  256p.  Penguin, $16.99 (9780670011285).  Grades 6 & Up.
Jesse and Emily are as opposite and can be, and are as head-over-heels for each other as you can get.  But when they’re on opposite sides during a heated battle, can they keep the discussion separate from their relationship?

Gonzalez, Rigoberto.  Mariposa Gown.  2012.  230p.  Tincture (Lethe Press), $13.00 (9781590213513).  Grades 8 & Up.
BFFs Maui, Trini, and Lib are confronted with difficult choices as they graduate- college, career, and who will wear a gown to the senior prom.

Heinberg, Allan.  Avengers:  the Children’s Crusade.  2012.  248p.  Marvel, $29.99 (9780785135494).  Grades 8 & Up.
When Wiccan’s powers grow almost to the point of chaos, the Avengers take action to stop him, but the Young Avengers – including Hulkling, Wiccan’s lover – decide to cooperate with Magneto to find the Scarlet Witch, who may be able to help Wiccan regain control of his power.

Knowles, Jo.  See You at Harry’s.  2012. 310p.  Candlewick Press, $16.99 (9780763654078).  Grades 6 & Up.
Twelve-year old Fern is a quiet, thoughtful child in the middle of a close-knit but dysfunctional busy family.  She longs to be brave like her namesake in Charlotte’s Web, but her courage is soon put to the test when tragedy strikes outside the family restaurant and her life is turned upside-down. 

Magoon, Kekla.  37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order).  2012.  224p.  Henry Holt, $16.99 (9780805094657).  Grades 7 & Up.
Bullied by her best friend and facing the impending death of her father, Ellis finds hope through a new therapist and in her emerging relationship with Cara.

Newman, Leslea.  October Mourning:  A Song for Matthew Shepard.  2012.  128p.  Candlewick Press, $15.99 (9780763658076).  Grades 8 & Up.
The fence, the road, the clothesline, the truck – these are some of the 68 spare, poetic voices joining together to tell the story of what happened to Matthew Shepard that tragic night.

Parent, Dan.  Kevin Keller.  2012.  160p.  Archie Comic Publications, $19.99 (9781879794931).  Grades 6 & Up.
There’s a new guy in Riverdale:  he’s cute, a military brat, funny, and smart.  And oh yeah – he’s gay.

Perkins, Stephanie.  Lola and the Boy Next Door.  2011.  338p.  Penguin, $16.99 (9780525423287).  Grades 8 & Up.
Sixteen year old (going on seventeen) Lola Nolan lives in San Francisco’s Castro district with her two fathers.  She spends her time creating lavish costumes, working, avoiding the mean girls at school, and hanging out with her 22-year-old musician boyfriend, Max.  Life is good – until the heartbreaks of her past come back to her present.

Peters, Julie Ann.  It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It).  2012.  342p.  Hatchette Book Group, $17.99 (9780316131582).  Grades 6 & Up.
Azure has gone public with her objections to her school’s senior prom: too expensive, too exclusive, too heterosexual.  When the principal challenges Azure and her friends to take charge of the planning committee, they jump into the task—and the accompanying headaches—of planning an inclusive prom.

Takako, Shimura.  Wandering Son, Volume 2.  2012.  200p.  Fantagraphics Books, $19.99 (9781606994566).  Grades 6 & Up.
Shuichi spends his grandmother’s cash gift on a special present that leads to his sister finding out his secret, leading to disastrous consequences.  But can Shuichi find the strength and courage to withstand the trials that are to come?

Takako, Shimura.  Wandering Son, Volume 3.  2012.  200p.  Fantagraphics Books, $19.99 (9781606995334).  Grades 6 & Up.
As their friendship grows more strained after their secrets are exposed, Yoshino and Shuichi start to learn about the hard realities of being transgendered, and the consequences (unintended or not) that it can bring.

*Telgemeier, Raina.  Drama.  2012.  240p.  Scholastic Graphix, $23.99 (9780545326988).  Grades 6 & Up.
Callie is a passionate theater geek who plunges into her middle school’s production of “Moon Over Mississippi” with enthusiasm for all things theater: sets, props, lighting – you name it, she’s on it.  When twins Justin and Jesse join the cast, Callie quickly develops a crush on one, a friendship with the other, who is gay.

Middle/Early Young Adult Nonfiction

*Moon, Sarah, editor.  The Letter Q:  Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves.  2012.  288p.  Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545399326).  Grades 6 & Up.
Looking back on what they wished they knew when they were younger, 64 of today’s award winning GLBTQ authors write and illustrate letters to their former selves in a way to reach out to those who are in the shoes they once filled.

Radclyffe and Katherine E. Lynch, editors.  OMG Queer.  2012.  264p.  Bold Strokes Books, $9.95 (9781602826823).  Grades 8 & Up.
Teens tell in their own words what it’s like being GLBTQI in today’s society- how they’re changing the boundaries and definitions, whether to choose a label that can box you in, and living with discrimination and love hand in hand.

 Young Adult/ Crossover Fiction

Adams, S.J.  Sparks: the Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie.  2011.  256p.  Flux, $9.95 (9780738726762).  Grades 9-12.
“$5 for a holy quest” is a good deal when you’re on a desperate chase to reveal your secret lesbian crush to your best friend before she breaks her abstinence pledge with the most boring guy at school.

Berman, Steve, editor.  Boys of Summer.  2012.  264p.  Bold Strokes Books, Inc., $13.95 (9781602826632).  Grades 10 & Up.
A collection of ten stories about the magic and mystery of summertime gay teen romance.

*Bigelow, Lisa Jenn.  Starting From Here.  2012.  292p.  Amazon Children’s Publishing, $16.99 (9780761462330).  Grades 9 & Up.
Colby can’t seem to get any love.  Her mom died a few years ago, her trucker dad is always on the road and her girlfriend just dumped her for a guy.  When she rescues a stray dog who has been hit by a car, Colby starts to piece her life together with lots of help from her friends.

*Danforth, Emily M.  The Miseducation of Cameron Post.  2012.  480p.  Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (9780062020567).  Grades 9 & Up.
When Cam’s conservative aunt discovers her niece is a lesbian, she sends Cam to God’s Promise, a church camp that promises to “cure” young people of their homosexuality.  Cam’s engaging voice tells her story with wry humor, intelligence, and a strong sense of place in eastern Montana.

Gant, Gene.  The Thunder in His Head.  2012. 200p.  Harmony Ink Press, $14.99 (9781613725726).  Grades 9 & Up.
Openly gay sixteen-year-old Kyle Manning’s life at home and school starts to fall apart when his parents’ divorce, and becomes more complicated when he meets and falls in love with the mysterious Dwight.

Graves, Michael.  Dirty One:  Stories.  2011.  152p.  Chelsea Station Editions, $16.00 (9780983285106).  Grades 10 & Up.
Raw and honest stories about the adolescent experience of nine teens living in the fictional plastic capital of America.

Griffin, Molly Beth.  Silhouette of a Sparrow.  2012.  224p.  Milkweed Editions, $16.95 (9781571317018).  Grades 9 & Up.
During the summer of 1926, when sixteen-year-old Garnet discovers the truth about herself and her desires, can she find the courage and freedom to follow her dreams?

Hoole, Elissa Janine.  Kiss the Morning Star.  2012.  256p.  Marshall Cavendish (now Amazon Children’s), $17.99 (9780761462699).  Grades 10 & Up.
Best friends Anna and Kat take off on a cross-country road trip, using Jack Kerouac’s novel, the Dharma Bums for inspiration.  Out on the open road they explore the Northwest and encounter church folks, a tattoo artist, hippie jam band groupies, some wild small-town girls, and a spiritual guru.

Hopkins, Ellen.  Tilt.  2012.  608p.  Margaret K. McElderry Books, $18.99 (9781416983309).  Grades 9 & Up.
Shane, in love with HIV-positive Alex, is one of three teens sharing their fears and whispered secrets as they navigate life’s toughest decisions.

*King, A.S.  Ask the Passengers.  2012.  304p.  Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316194686).  Grades 9 & Up.
There’s only one thing Astrid Jones can do when a growing attraction to her co-worker Dee becomes too big and too confusing: send her love to airplane passengers flying overhead while she tries to figure out who she is down here on the ground.

Kokie, E. M.  Personal Effects.  2012.  352p.  Candlewick Press, $16.99 (9780763655273).  Grades 9 & Up.
After his beloved older brother T.J. is killed in action in Iraq, seventeen-year-old Matt begins to read a series of his brother’s letters and discovers his brother’s secret- and must come to terms with his brother’s secret life and what it means.

*Lo, Malinda.  Adaptation.  2012.  400p.  Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316197960).  Grades 9 & Up.
Something strange has been going on with Reese Holloway since her car accident and her top secret medical treatment- but will she be allowed to figure it out, or will others take her apart to figure it out first?

Lowrey, Sassafras.  Roving Pack.  2012.  358p.  PoMo Freakshow Press, $19.78 (9780985700904).  Grades 11 & Up.
The story of the daily life of a straight-edge transgender teen unfolds in journal-like entries about her world of family, desire, love, lust, and intimacy.

*Miller, Madeline.  The Song of Achilles.  2012.  384p.  HarperCollins, $25.99 (9780062060617).  Grades 9 & Up.
Stirring and memorable, this novel is a reimagined retelling of the Homeric story of the love between Achilles and Patrocles.

Moskowitz, Hannah.  Gone, Gone, Gone.  2012.  251p.  Simon Pulse, $16.99 (ISBN 9781442453128).  Grades 9-12.
This quiet love story is set in 2002, as random and deadly sniper fire has Washington DC under siege.  Craig and Lio are drawn together, yet the recent trauma of 9/11 has them at odds, with Craig’s emotions on hold and Lio at a growing distance from his own feelings.

*Rice-Gonzalez, Charles.  Chulito:  a Novel.  2011.  275p.  Magnus Books, $14.95 (9781936833030).  Grades 10 & Up.
After sharing a secret with his best friend, a Latino teen’s ideas about what it really means to be a man are challenged.  Should he play ‘straight’ and keep his standing among his peers in the neighborhood, or come out and be his true self?

Ryan, Tom.  Way to Go.  2012.  224p.  Orca Book Publishers, $12.95 (9781459800779).  Grades 9 & Up.
High school junior Danny looks forward to a relaxing summer vacation with his two best friends, but a run-in with the local police has his mother insisting he find a summer job.  Work in the new restaurant in town brings friendship with Lisa, a tattooed free spirit who helps him accept his true self.

*Saenz, Benjamin Alire.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.  2012.  368p.  Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (9781442408920).  Grades 9-12.
Dante and Aristotle are opposites in almost every way but, nevertheless, the two boys are best friends, almost like two halves making a whole.  Saenz’ lyrical novel examines the bonds of friendship and the uncertainties and saving graces of love.

Thorne, Hayden.  The Winter Garden and Other Stories.  2012.  194p.  CreateSpace, $13.50 (9781475057270).  Grades 9-12.
Venture into fairy tale journeys ranging from the Gothic to the macabre in these nine short stories featuring gay protagonists.

Trumble, J.H.  Don’t Let Me Go.  2012.  288p.  Kensington Books, $15.00 (9780758269270).  Grades 9 & Up.
When Adam moves to New York to follow his dreams, Nate’s belief about their one true love is put to the test not only by the distance, but Adam’s roommates, the harassment in school, and a new boy at school who looks for more than just friendship.

Williams III, J. H., and W. Haden Blackman.  Batwoman, vol. 1:  Hydrology.  2012.  160p.  DC Comics (Warner Brothers Entertainment), $22.99 (9781401234652).  Grades 10 & Up.
Kate Kane, drummed out of the military under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” regulations, continues her fight as Batwoman in the dark streets of Gotham.

Wise, Tama.  Street Dreams.  2012.  264p.  Bold Strokes Books, Inc., $13.95 (9781602826502).  Grades 9 & Up.
Life, love, and hip-hop mix to push gay Moori teen Tyson to places he’s afraid to go when he suddenly starts crushing on a straight guy he meets through his involvements in the local scene

Woodward, Timothy.  If I Told You So.  2012.  248p.  Kensington Books, $15.00 (9780758274885).  Grades 9 & Up.
A summer job at a dockside ice cream shop dishes up more excitement than 16 year old Sean expected: late night pranks, a bold new friend from New York, and a serious crush on his supervisor, Jay.  Young love and ice cream combine in this sweet and witty summer romance.

 Young Adult/ Crossover Non-Fiction

Cordova, Jeanne.  When We Were Outlaws:  a Memoir of Love & Revolution.  2011.  456p.  Spinsters Ink, $14.95 (9781935226512).  Grades 9 & Up.
Lesbian activist and reporter for the L.A. Free Press and editor of the Lesbian Tide, Jeanne Cordova, brings the social upheaval and excitement of the 1970s to light in this memoir.

Schwartz, John.  Oddly Normal:  One Family’s Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality.  2012.  304p.  Penguin, $26.00 (9781592407286).  Grades 9 & Up.
On the day thirteen-year-old Joe Schwartz came out at school, his mother came home to find him in the bathroom, having attempted suicide.  With Joe’s help, his father weaves together the family’s story and the statistics behind the failure of schools to protect students who are gender variant.

Wahls, Zach, with Bruce Littlefield.  My Two Moms:  Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.  2012.  256p.  Gotham Books, $26.00 (9781592407132).  Grades 9 & Up.
Author Zach Wahls is the teen whose eloquent speech to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on behalf of same-sex marriage went viral on YouTube in early 2011.  Now, in chapters titled for the Boy Scouts’ virtues, Zach tells the story of his life as the son of two lesbian women.


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Rainbow Books presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age. Rainbow Books is a joint project of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) and the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) of the American Library Association (ALA).
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