Rainbow Book List

2008 Rainbow Book List

Posted by: John on: February 1, 2009

On the fortieth anniversary of the Kinsey report telling the world that GLBTQ people are not alone in their feelings or experience, 25 years since the publication of the controversial Annie on My Mind, and almost 20 years after Daddy’s Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies, the Rainbow Project proudly presents its inaugural bibliography, a bibliography of current books for young readers from birth through age 18 dealing with the myriad of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning.issues.

Introduction to 2008 Rainbow Book List

For our first list, we included books with original copyrights in the U.S. for the years 2005-2007. The search for these books was eye-opening, revealing a lack of accessibility through missing subject headings and the promotion of inappropriate titles insulting to the GLBTQ population including such books as A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. The frustrations that we had in finding potential Rainbow books clearly demonstrate the vital need for this list of quality books, originally published during the current calendar year or the six months prior to that year, that validate same-gender lifestyles.

After examining more than 200 books to find the 45 on the list, we concluded that more titles are available than there were five years ago, and these books generally showed an improvement in the quality of writing. The existing material, however, is heavily weighted to the young adult audience with few books for younger readers not in high school. Also many current books paste in the glbtq characters in a secondary role in a weak attempt for diversity.

A major issue that GLBTQ books face is censorship. And Tango Makes Three, one of the books on this bibliography, topped the 2006 list of challenged books, according to ALA. We thank the authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers who are willing to confront these challenges and continue providing more quality books that portray glbtq characters in a realistic and prominent manner.

We would like to star four Rainbow Project List books, published in 2007: Peter Cameron, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You; Julie Anne Peters, grl2grl; St. James, James, Freak Show; and Lu Vickers, Breathing Underwater. We look forward to more books of this quality for the 2009 list.

Committee Members: Jane Cothron, Lincoln County Library District/Coastal Resources Sharing Network (OR); Helma Hawkins, Kansas City Public Library (MO); Arla Jones, Lawrence High School (KS); Natalie Kendall, Greeley Elementary School (IL); Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library (CA); Victor Schill, Harris County Public Library (TX); Nel Ward (OR); and Christie Gibrich, Grand Prairie Public Library (TX). The Rainbow Project is sponsored by the Social Responsibilities Round Table and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table of the American Library Association.

Rainbow Book List

An entry beginning with an asterisk (*) indicates the book was found to be exceptional and highly recommended.

Beginning Readers

Considine, Kaitlyn. Emma and Meesha My Boy: A Two Mom Story. Ilustrated by Binny Hobbs. 2005. unp. Two Moms Books, $10.95. (9781413416008). Pre-K. When Emma’s two moms teach her to be nice to her cat, Emma enjoys being told yes instead of no.

Gonzalez, Rigoberto. Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio. Illustrated by Cecilia Concepcion Alvarez. 2005. 32p. Children’s Book Press, $16.95. (9780892392049). Gr. 1-3. Antonio comes to terms with his classmates’ ridicule of his mother’s partner, Leslie.

Jopling, Heather. Monicka’s Papa Is Tall. Illustrated by Allyson Demoe. 2006. unp. Nickname (9780978073916). Pre-K. Monicka’s papa and daddy are very different, but the puzzle pieces show that both of them love her very much.

Jopling, Heather. Ryan’s Mom Is Tall. Illustrated by Allyson Demoe. 2006. unp. Nickname Press, (9780978073909). Pre-K. Ryan’s mom and mummy are very different, but the puzzle pieces show that both of them love him very much.

Lindenbaum, Pija. Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle. Translated by Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard. 2007. unp. R&S Books, $16.00. (9789129667349/9129667348). K-Gr. 2. Jealous of her uncle’s new partner, Fergus, feisty Mia plays tricks to drive him away until the day Uncle Tommy isn’t feeling well and she decides to accept his relationship with Fergus.

Richardson, Justin and Peter Parnell. And Tango Makes Three. Illustrated by Henry Cole. 2005. unp. Simon & Schuster, $15.99. (9780689878459/0689878451). K-Gr. 2. At New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins parent an egg and start a family.

Middle / Early Young Adult


Burch, Christian. The Manny Files. 2006. 296p. Atheneum, $15.95. (9781416900399/141690039X). 296p. Gr. 5-8. Shy Keats Dalinger learns from his unconventional male “nanny” to be more self-confident and out-going while the “manny” becomes more and more a part of the family.

Hartinger, Brent. The Order of the Poison Oak. 2005. 211p. HarperTeen, $15.99. (0060567309). Gr. 7-10. Tired of being the school freak, gay 16-year-old Russel tries to escape as a summer camp counselor in a rural summer camp only to be attracted to the same counselor as his bisexual friend Min.

Howe, James. Totally Joe. 2005. 189p. Atheneum/Ginee Seo Books, $15.95. (9780689839573/068983597X). Gr. 6-8. In 13-year-old Joe’s alphabiography assignment, “the story of his life from A to Z” he bares his soul about his parents, teachers, friends, and enemies–and his coming out.

Larochelle, David. Absolutely, Positively Not. 2005. 219p. Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.95. (0439591090). Gr. 7-10. Fifteen-year-old Steven conscientiously collects photos of girls in bikinis and dates his female classmates in this humorous attempt to fit into his Minnesota high school, only to find out some surprising things about the people around him, and himself.

Limb, Sue. Girl Nearly 16, Absolute Torture. 2005. 216p. Delacorte, $15.95. (0385732163). Gr. 7-10. Forced to leave her boyfriend and visit with her father for two weeks, 15-year-old Jess finally learns the reason her father left her mother.

Peters, Julie Anne. Between Mom and Jo. 2006. 232p. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley Books, $16.99. (0316739065). 232p. Gr. 7-10. Fourteen-year-old Nick has a great life with his two moms until they split up and he’s caught in the middle with no support.

Selvadurai, Shyam. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea. 2005. 280p. Tundra, $18.95. (9780887767357). Gr. 7-10. Fourteen-year-old Amrith finds his life in Sri Lanka turned upside down when his Canadian cousin visits and Amrith falls in love with him.


Marcus, Eric. What If Someone I Know Is Gay: Answers to Questions about What It Means to be Gay and Lesbian. 2007. 183p. Simon Pulse, $8.99. (9781416949701/1416949704). Gr. 7-12. This radically updated resource covers basics and not-so-basics in a question-and-answer format.

Miller, Calvin Craig. No Easy Answers: Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement. [Portraits of Black Americans Series]. 2005. 160p. Morgan Reynolds, $27.95. (9781931798433/1931798435). Gr. 7-10. Although a leader in the US civil rights movement, Rustin’s arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for a homosexual encounter were used to discredit his work.

When I Knew. Edited by Robert Trachtenberg. Illustrated by Tom Bachtell. 2005. 120p. Regan Books, $22.95. (0060571462). Gr. 9-12. More than 80 contributors briefly describe their self-discovery “eureka moment” regarding their sexual orientation in a fun book with a magazine style.

Young Adult


Alvarado, T. I. Wanted. 2006. 190p. Alyson, $14.95. (9781555839451/1555839452). Gr. 10-12. Bounty hunter Ladybird “Bird” Blacker has too much to deal with, from a pacifist partner to a six-foot-, seven-inch-tall business rival who wears a scowl you couldn’t scrape off with a chisel, and then her little sister comes to town.

Berman, Steve. Vintage: A Ghost Story. 2007. 148p. Haworth , $12.95. (9781560236313/1560236310). Gr. 10-12. Rejected by his parents because he’s gay and sent to live with his aunt, a teen is haunted by a handsome boy, in more ways than one, and only black magic will help.

* Cameron, Peter. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You. 2007. 229p. Farrar/Frances Foster Books, $16.00. (9780374309893/03743098920. Gr. 10-12. Holden Caulfield, meet James Sveck, a white, middle-class New Yorker who disdains his peers and most of the adults in his life, except for the gay man who manages his mother’s art gallery.

Davis, Will. My Side of the Story. 2007. 243p. Bloomsbury, $14.95. (9781596912946/1596912944). Gr. 10-12. Only 16, cheeky Jarold a.k.a. Jazz, hits the gay bars to escape the misery of his life.

Garden, Nancy. Hear Us Out!: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present. 2007. 230p. Farrar, $18.00. (9780374317591/0374317593). Gr. 8-11. Fact and fiction show the struggles for lgbt teens in America during the past five decades.

Goobie, Beth. Hello, Groin. 2006. 271p. Orca, $17.95. (9781551434599/1551434598). Gr. 9-12. Wanting to be normal, 16-year-old Dylan Kowolski tries to hide her lesbianism and develop sexual feelings for her boyfriend at the same time she has a passionate crush on her best female friend.

Humphreys, Helen. Wild Dogs. 2005. 185p. Norton, $13.95. (0393060152). Gr. 10-12. Alice, in love with a wildlife biologist, gathers at the forest’s edge with her and four other people to save their dogs that have become feral.

Hyde, Catherine Ryde. Becoming Chloe. 2006. 215p. Knopf, $15.95. (0375832580). Gr. 9-12. Attempting to protect Wanda (aka Chloe), another homeless teenager, 17-year-old Jordan finds the brutality and beauty in life on their road trip across the country.

Levithan, David. Wide Awake. 2006. 221p. Knopf, $16.95. (9780375834660/0375834664). Gr. 9-12: In a future American when gay Jewish Abraham Stein is elected president, lovers Jimmy and Duncan join the throngs of people traveling to Topeka to protest the governor’s threat to change votes.

Moore, Perry. Hero. 2007. 428p. Hyperion, $16.99. (9781423101956/1423101952). Gr. 10-12. Thom Creed, the son of superheroes, has to hide the fact that he’s gay if he’s going to fit into the League, but he finds a lot more problems than that facing him.

Noyes, Katia. Crashing America. 2005. 249p. Alyson, $14.95. (1555839118). Gr. 10-12. Afraid that she will kill herself at age 18 as her mother did, 17-year-old Girl (formerly Gretchen) flees San Francisco on a road trip to the Midwest, searching for a place where she belongs.

Peters, Julie Anne. Far from Xanadu. 2005. 282p. Little, Brown, $16.99. (031615881X). Gr. 9-12. Mike Szabo–ace softball player, weightlifter, a.k.a. Mary Elizabeth–has enough trouble surviving in her small town before a new girl, Xanadu, turns Mike’s life upside down.

* Peters, Julie Anne. grl2grl. 2007. 151p. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley Books, $11.99. (9780316013437/0316013439). Gr. 9-12. The young women in this collection of ten short stories are at different levels of self-discovery, searching for satisfying relationships.

Rucka, Greg. Gotham Central: Half a Life. 2005. 168p. Il. Michael Lark et al. DC Comics, $14.99. (1401204384). 168p. Gr. 9-12. Police detective Renee Montoya’s secret lesbian life, which she must keep from not only her co-workers but also her family, puts her in great danger when she is implicated in a murder and her main defender is the psychopathic criminal Two-Face.

Sanchez, Alex. Getting It. 2006. 210p. Simon & Schuster, $16.95. (9781416908968/141690896X). Gr. 9-12. Hoping to impress a sexy female classmate, 15-year-old Carlos secretly hires gay student Sal to give him an image makeover in exchange for Carlos’s helping to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at their Texas high school.

* St. James, James. Freak Show. 2007. 298p. Dutton, $18.99. (978052547799-0). Gr. 9-12. Outrageously over-the-top teen drag queen Billy Bloom, a new student at the very conservative Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy, finds that life is not easy for him among the rich white students with their brutal homophobia.

Steinhofel, Andreas. The Center of the World. Translated by Alisa Jaffa. 2005. 467p. Delacorte, $16.95. (038572943X). Gr. 11-12. Seventeen-year-old Phil navigates his complicated family dynamics and his first sexual relationship in a lyrical novel first published in Germany.

* Vickers, Lu. Breathing Underwater. 2007. 251p. Alyson, $24.95. (9781555839642/1555839649. Gr. 10-12. In 1970s Florida, it’s literally sink or swim for12-year-old Lily who struggles for self-acceptance while dealing with her mother’s mental illness.

Wittlinger, Ellen. Parrotfish. 2007. 294p. Simon & Schuster, $16.99. (9781416916222/9781416916228). Gr. 9-12. When Angela, who has never felt comfortable as a girl, finally comes out as transgendered and begins life as a boy, she isn’t prepared for everyone’s reactions.


Baez, John and others. The Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life. 2007. 391p. Random/Princeton Review, $13.95 (9780375766237/037576237). Gr. 10-12. College life for GLBTQ students: financing, the right school, being out or not, dealing with GLBTQphobia, and more, is the focus of this guide for both students and those who love and care about them.

Beam, Chris. Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers. 2007. 323p. Harcourt, $25.00. (9780151011964/0151011966). Gr. 10-12. Four transgendered girls share their world with a volunteer in a Los Angeles school for gay and transgender students.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. 2006. 240p. Houghton Mifflin, $13.95. (9780618477944/0618477942). Gr. 11-12. Bechdel reveals her childhood experiences with a closeted gay father and her coming out as a lesbian in this powerful graphic-style memoir.

Carlip, Hillary. Queen of the Oddballs and Other True Stories From a Life Unaccording to Plan. 2006. 273p. Harper, $13.95. (9780060878832/0060878835). Gr. 10-12. This hilarious offbeat memoir chronicles the escapades of an unconventional girl surrounded by artists and rockstars in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cart, Michael and Christine A. Jenkins. The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004. 2006. 205p. Scarecrow Press, $42.00. (978810850712/0810850710). Gr. 9-12. This overview of young adult glbtq fiction 1970 to 2004 includes lists of books for teens.

The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing. Edited by David Levithan and Billy Merrill. 2006. 272p. Knopf, $9.95. (9780375832901/0375832904). 288pp. Gr. 8-11. This collection of essays and poetry from a wide diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered teens shows the complexity of today’s LGBTQ youths.

Hear Me Out: True Stories of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia. Planned Parenthood of Toronto. 2005. 197p. Second Story Press, $12.95. (1896764878). Gr. 9-12. Twenty teens from a variety of social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds give personal accounts of gay, lesbian, queer, transgender, transsexual, and questioning young-adult experiences.

Keen, Lisa. Out Law: What LGBT Youth Should Know about Their Legal Rights. [Queer Action/Queer Ideas Series] 2007. 158p. Beacon, $11.00. (0807079669). Gr. 9-12. LGBT young adults can make a difference.

Patterson, Romaine, with Patrick Hinds. The Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard. 2005. 289p. Advocate, $24.95. (1555839010). Gr. 9-12. After young gay Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in Laramie (WY), the author of this book formed a group of “angels” who surrounded the bigoted Fred Phelps of Topeka (KS) when he and a small group picketed outside the killer’s trial with such signs as “Matthew in Hell”: this is the autobiography of the young woman who conceived and carried out this idea.

Rouse, Wade. America’s Boy: A Memoir. 2006. 340p. Dutton, $24.95. (9780525949343/0525949348). Gr. 10-12. Growing up in southwestern Missouri in the 1970s and hopelessly out of step with the redneck masculinity surrounding him, Wade tries to hide the fact that he is gay by overeating.

An entry beginning with an asterisk (*) indicates the book was found to be exceptional and highly recommended.

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