There's going to be an be an LGBT focus to all our activity on the site this week, including something for all ages. Here's an overview of what's coming up .
We want to say a big thank you to everyone (site members, authors, tweeters) who has recommended books that have changed or added to their perspective on anything LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) for this blog so far. What LGBT gems have we missed? If you've read a mind-expanding LGBT book share it on Twitter @GdnChildrensBks or email [email protected] and we'll add more books to the list throughout this week!
Hawwa, site member
Far From You by Tess Sharpe was an eye-opening novel that really changed my perspective on LGBT and was a refreshing stance to read from concerning love because who's slightly sick of stereotypical boy-girl romances? *raises hand*
The Dormouse, site member
The book that really made me reflect on homophobia issues was What's up with Jody Barton? by Hayley Long. The emotions of the character really opened my eyes to the way that feelings for any person (opposite gender or not) can be confusing and play around with your self confidence and happiness across all aspects of your life. It reaffirmed for me that something with such an impact on a person as who they fall in love with should be respected, no matter who the feelings are for.
James Dawson, author of Cruel Summer
Every Day by David Levithan forced me to examine my own position on gender and sexuality and whether they even matter. Body-jumping character 'A' has no fixed gender and simply falls in love with a girl called Rhiannon. Through her, the reader must address their own hang ups. A fantastic, mind-altering read.
Linda Newberry, author of The Shell House
I'd like to add three books which were out there well before the repeal of Section 28: Dance on My Grave and Postcards from No Mans Land, by Aidan Chambers, and The Other Side of the Fence by Jean Ure.
Andrew Smith, author of Grasshopper Jungle
I love Benjamin Alire Saenz's beautifully written novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe because of the straightforward, comfortable, and compassionate way Saenz presents his characters that, I think, truly opens readers' eyes and minds to the wholeness and humanness of gay adolescents.
David Levithan, author of Two Boys Kissing
Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat opened my mind to the notion that life and circumstance are as much about music they are about plot, by combining the fantastical with the painful.
Darren Stein, filmmaker and director of GBF
The queerness of Katherine Dunne's Geek Love
really spoke to me. It was about otherness in the form of a tight-knit family of circus freaks who are portrayed in such harrowing, baroque detail while still being profoundly human in their grotesqueness.
Lili Wilkinson, author of Pink and Love Shy
I'm loving the relatively recent expansion of LGBT fiction into fantasy and SF, with titles like Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince, set in a futuristic Brazil, the story merges love, art, technology, rebellion, and ritual sacrifice, all with a fluidity of race and sexuality that is truly refreshing.
Alice Oseman, 19-year-old author of Solitaire published July 2014
I'm a teenager. So it's probably unsurprising that it was John Green who introduced me to the vast universe of contemporary YA fiction. And it was Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-written by him and David Levithan, which first brought me to books featuring LGBT+ characters. A fun but poignant, unabashedly fabulous and often heart-breaking novel; it is the reason why I will always include LGBT+ characters in my writing. Not only does it effortlessly merge LGBT+ themes into its story, but it also proves that being LGBT+ does not have to be the most interesting or important thing about a person.
Susie Day, author of the Pea series
I recommend Pretend You Love Me by Julie Anne Peters, which I read as an adult. It's got it all: a plainly doomed (but utterly convincing) first love, family crisis, fear of the future. The intense claustrophobia of a small Kansas farm town is reflected in the dense, vivid writing, but what really stands out is protagonist Mike. Popular culture is pleasingly reluctant to stereotype, but that means we don't often see a 'butch' lesbian teen on-screen or in fiction; I found it a compelling, refreshing and unapologetic insight.
Joanne Horniman, author of About a Girl
Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto. After Mikage's grandmother dies and she is left alone, she accepts an invitation to move in for a while with two people she barely knows: Yuichi and his mother, a beautiful transvestite who owns a bar. This short, elegant novel, with its deceptively simple and often colloquial style is full of warmth; a meditation on loss, loneliness, the human heart, love, acceptance and kitchens, at once quotidian and transcendent, a book larger in scope and depth than you'd expect from its little over a hundred pages; a book I never tire of reading.
Avery, site member
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children because of its ability to address transgender issues without making them the only focus of the novel (also, Gabe, the main character, is the most adorable young man since forever). Every Day by David Levithan was also amazing because its main character switched bodies every day, changing genders and sexualities with his body.
Liz Kessler, author of North of Nowhere
I'm going to recommend the very first and the most recent LGBT-themed books I've read. The first, which I read many years ago whilst at university, was Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. As this was many (too many!) years ago, I'm afraid I can't really remember that much about it – but I remember loving it. The most recent LGBT-themed book I read was Malorie Blackman's wonderful Boys Don't Cry. I loved every bit of this book, and, well, boys might not cry but I certainly did. A LOT!
@JenoSkello, on email
One book which has impacted my life is The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. I read it when it first came out a few years ago, and it blew me away. It was such a true and emotional story, and beautifully written. After I'd finished I was overjoyed that such a book is out there and winning awards and recognition in the LGBT *and* mainstream book world so there's more chance that it would fall into the hands of a teenager struggling with their identity. It's the sort of book I wish I'd had when I was younger, but I'm so so happy it's in the world for teens today.
Alice, site member
I am 18 and have been reading voraciously throughout my teens so I have a few books to recommned. First Luna by Julie Anne Peters - it's about a girl whose sibling is a trans girl, still in the closet and coming to terms with it.It completely changed my perspective on trans- and otherwise non-gender conforming people. I had never really thought about it, only dismissed them as weird, and suddenly I understood how one could be trapped, and how being recognised as the gender you are matters. Especially I was struck at how Luna had always felt this way, even as a little girl in a boy's body.I think it's great as an introduction for people who know nothing about being transgender and who have assumptions already (don't we all?). Also Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner – very original, with a queer twist I did not expect (and nor did the narrator.), which made it all that much more sweet. And Every Day by David Levithan – in which A wakes up in a new body everyday. This book was amazing at showing all the different experiences we have, and how much gender and body doesn't matter in loving- and how it does at the same time. Reading this felt like taking a big swig of compassion. Finally More Than This by Patrick Ness – this book touched two of my experiences: being queer and being depressed/not OK. It was page turning and scary, and a lot bigger than can be resumed really. The love of the main character for Gudmund, though, was heartbreakingly beautiful.Conclusion is: more queer books needed! and more queer books that aren't just about being queer. And more girls. :)
Hai Tran, site member
Ahh, LGBT! LGBT has been a remarkable issue in this century, where prejudice against lesbians and gays is gradually disappearing, and people are given more freedom to express their true selves. So far, I have not read many books about LGBT for my country has just passed a law which allows homosexual loves recently. My favorite LGBT book is Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. Oh, dear Mr Levithan, I sincerely thank you for guiding me to the LGBT world! Other great books about LGBT are Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Nina from teen blog Death, Books and Tea
Luna by Julie Anne Peters is one of the few books that made me cry. It's the tale of transgirl Luna seen through her sister's eyes, and the ending is hopeful and beautiful.
Two Boys Kissing by David Leviathan has this chorus of men who died of Aids narrating it which provides perspective on past, current and future generations of gay teens, and it really made me think about how lucky I, as a queer teen, am to be growing up in a world where attitudes towards queer people are slowly changing for the better.
Pantomime by Laura Lam appreciative of a book that, unlike some people and some media when it comes up, recognises and addresses gender identity and sexual orientation as totally separate things.
On Twitter @caaulfield
Will Grayson, Will Grayson :-) by David Levithan
On Twitter @tanya_rayax
The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
On Twitter @Anna_RobertsX
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff – what a book
On Twitter @YABirmingham
Definitely 'Kiss in the Dark' by @cat_clarke for me.
On Twitter @SpeakingofBks
Far From You (Tess Sharpe) More Than This (Patrick Ness) and Being a Boy (James Dawson).
On Twitter @Pinkmad17 - Laura Jones (check if site member)
Can I suggest nominate Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.
On Twitter @theTLtweets
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Caitlin, site member
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan: One of the first (if not the first) LGBT book I read almost ten years ago. It's wonderful and touching and made and makes me feel so positive.
Pretty Things by Sarra Manning: another kinda old one, but one of the most realistic portrayals of bisexuality out there and full of really genuine and different characters. Far From You by Tess Sharpe: It's a fairly new book but it's just so impactful. It has this really intense plotline and the relationship element was so perfect and so fraught and so tragic in a truly exquisite way. Pantomime by Laura Lam: Hard to describe this one without giving away too many spoilers, but it touches on the elements of LGBT that are less looked at in a really genuine and important way but in this extraordinarily rich and detailed universe.
BJ Epstein, author of Are The Kids All Right?
I Am J by Cris Beam: This is a good trans YA novel because unlike most such works, the focus isn't only on gender. While J does face some difficult times, other issues also come up, such as arguing with friends, changing schools, developing hobbies, applying to art school, dating, and dreams for the future. I also like it because it features ethnic and religious diversity.
Aneta, site member
I live in a society that thinks gay people are mentally ill. I have been taught to stay away from them, and any movies featuring them are social taboo. Even my friends who are the so called "new generation" have a laissez-faire attitude towards the LGBT. I used to be anti-LGBT. If I changed my ideology, it's because I read. It's because some writers were able to convince me that human beings are not assembly line products.I have since read a lot of books that I have shelved as LGBT. But only two books actually made me think about it and have serious midnight discussions with my friends.
Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan – I love a book that uses lyrical prose. couple that with a Greek chorus narration and I'm in love. The narrators tell us about different people with a main plot as a thread. And I loved the brazen cover. I loved the shock people showed when they saw it. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children – I can't claim to have read a lot about trangender people. With the kind of title it has, I had to pick it up. This wasn't a story that demanded sympathy, it just wanted to tell itself.
Emily C, site member
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
It's an important book because there really are not that many books that portray transgender teens for young adults out there, particularly not as main characters. Gabe is a great, memorable character, and also a very relatable one. It's also a good book because it is not ONLY about the fact he's transgender, though that's a big part of it. It's important because not only does it provide relevant information and a character to identify with for trans teens, it also helps cisgender teens to understand somewhat what it is like to be trans, and hopefully will help them to be more accepting of people different from them.
Alan Gibbons, author of Hate
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown was one of the first novels I came across that featured a gay or lesbian character who came across as a real person. Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit had a big impact partly because I shared the characters' northern chapel background and the sense of claustrophobic morality."
On Twitter @RPS_Library
My Most Excellent Year, by Steve Kluger. One of the happiest, most loving books I've ever read and and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray! Hilarious and empowering.
On Twitter @mabel_tsui
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall.
On email, Andrew
I found a beautiful colouring in book last week called Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon by Jacinta Bunnell and Nathaniel Kusinitz. I immediately bought it, and the next thing on my shopping list is some colouring pencils!
On email, Sian Cain
Without a doubt, Maurice by EM Forster is both the most romantic and the bravest book I have ever read. Written in 1913 but published posthumously in 1971, this classic novel is filled with Forster's longing and hope for society's eventual acceptance and recognition of gay relationships.
On Twitter @mark_suenA boy's Own Story by Edmund white.
On Twitter @JamesMackayCyp
And Tango Makes Three and 10,000 Dresses.
On email, Jonathan
For younger children I like these two picture books. They aren't my child's favourite, but I like them and they are both lovely stories that feature same sex relationships. King and King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland and Hello Sailor by Andre Sollie and Ingrid Godon.
MillenniumRIOT, site members
Our favourites are The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, Pantomime by Laura Lam and Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green.
On email, Deborah
What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn. Terrific book, overall, and gorgeous gay coming of age/love story plot and Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin. Nonfiction – portrait of transgender youth, told in their own words. A must-have for every school/library.
Frank Cottrell Boyce, author
Some of the richest seams of gay culture are those that were mined by artists who had to use disguises and codes. "The more autobiographical a story is, the more wildly inventive you need to be to tell it". So Tove Jansson should definitely be on this list! Her characters – the inseparable Thingummy and Bob with their stolen ruby and secret code, the highly competent and utterly calm Too Ticky – are some of the most endearing gay characters in all literature.
On email, Elizabeth
Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey and the sequels.
On email, Susannah
Just wanted to add to your list a great YA book that I read recently on the subject of intersex people. It is called "Golden Boy" by Abigail Tarttelin.
On email, Laraine
I really recommend Rose Christo's Gives Light series, an original heartfelt YA story set on a reservation in Arizona. This authentic sense of place and the main characters wonderful layered complexity create a story that is unlike any coming of age/exploring sexuality novel I have read.
On email, Andy
When I wanted to educate children about my own coming out I gave them a copy of Two Weeks With The Queen by Maurice Gleitzman. Wonderful and accessible coverage of love, death, AIDS, sexuality, and friendship.
On Twitter @ChristasBooks
I personally recommend One Man Guy by Micheal Barakiva and Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole.
Kate Constable author of Always McKenzie
I'd like to suggest Timothy Conigrave's Holding The Man, a best-selling and very moving memoir from 1995, which revealed to mainstream Australian readers that two ordinary, football-playing schoolboys could fall in love. This was such an important book for my generation, for queers and questioners as well as people who barely knew that queers and questioners existed.
On Twitter @cartoonyphiliD
Postcards From No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers (1999) sensitively written, young man finding out about himself &WW2 Holland, Two Weeks With The Queen by Morris Gleitzman - v funny v human.
On email, Eoin
Who Lies Inside by Timothy Ireland. I found it in a public library in Copenhagen in 1994. It spoke to me as a 20 year old in a profound way. I read it cover to cover in one night and then hid it under my mattress. I started the process of coming out a month later.
On email, James
These aren't children's books but would be enjoyed by young adults - any of the Russell Quant mysteries by Anthony Bidulka.
On email, Darren
Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside by Holly Black. Great re-tellings in novel form of classic fairy tale motifs where issues such as sexuality and gender stereotypes are dealt with in the background of great story telling. Great reads and not pointedly LGBT so no finger wagging or special case begging, just genuine characters from all walks of life.
On email, Christy
Rarely feel the urge to comment but could you consider adding some memoir? Modern Nature by Derek Jarman and Borrowed Time by Paul Monette have stayed with me from adolescence, and I still prefer people's stories about themselves to biography. For fiction the complete works of Jane Rule (still re-read my hoarded Naiad editions)...
On email, Jennifer
Please add What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn to your list!
On email, Mel
As a reader of LGBT YA books and someone who has read many of the books on the list I would like to add a book series that I love and fits in this genre of books quite well - the Russell Middlebrook series by Brent Hartinger. The first book has also been turned into a movie which I recommend.
On email, Peter
For a brilliant Australian perspective Two Weeks with the Queen by Morris Gleitzman made me cry as an adult and wish I had access to such books as a child.
On email, Penny
I was waiting for a mention of Aidan Chambers. But Dance on my Grave made a great impact on me 30 years ago as first gay love story as so sensitive and touching. A love story to be relished by anyone and everyone. Forster's Maurice wins the classic slot for me. I was disappointed with the more recent More Than This by Patrick Ness for being so tragic. First love should never be your last (but i guess Shakespeare warned us first!).
On email, Maria
Chris Matthew's Mudlark is a young adult fantasy book that has boys in love, strong girls who rescue themselves, and asks serious questions around difference and fascism. Inspiring and fascinating read.
On twitter, @KimHarte
Flick by Geraldine Mead must be added to the list!
On email, Clare from Out for Our Children
Our faves are the Sissy Duckling, Something Else, And Tango Makes Three, the Paper Bag Princess and King and King - mostly suitable for 3-6 years old.
On email, Andrew
I love Toby's Lie by Daniel Vilmure. My Mam bought it for me a few years after I came out to her and my Dad. It was her way of saying "I accept you".
On email, Nick
I've been a fan of Strange Boy by Paul Magrs since it was published in 2002, and it remains one of the most beautiful and interesting queer YA novels published in this country. It's a semi-fictional memoir with elements of magic realism, set on a council estate in County Durham. The characters are sensitively drawn, but they're vibrant and compelling, each with their own dreams and fantasies. In delicate touches of fantasy, there's a wonderful sense that the world itself is not straightforward. There's also a sequel of sorts, Diary of a Dr Who Addict, which follows the lead character into adolescence in the 1980s. Both novels depict the emergence of gay identity as related to a broader queer sensibility, with all sorts of consequences.
On email, Said
I remember having to hide Rainbow Boys (by Alex Sanchez) when I was in the midst of realising I was gay as an early teen. I managed to smuggle a copy out of the local library and it was liberating to read a book about characters in the same situation as me. I guess you could say the digital revolution has been a success story for LGBT books, my first purchase on my kindle was Something Like Summer, by Jay Bell. Being able to read a story that was at the best of times gripping and at the worst of times heartbreaking was liberating, especially at a time when I couldn't out myself, the Kindle came up trumps.
On email, Patricia
Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. A novel in verse form, it is the story of a boy named Geryon, based on Geryon the Greek monster. Sexually abused by his older brother, his affectionate mother too weak-willed to protect him, the hideous-looking young boy finds solace in photography and in a romance with a young man named Herakles. Herakles abandons his young lover leaving Geryon heart-broken. When Geryon comes across Herakles several years later, Herakles has a new lover who becomes part of their love triangle.
On email, Natashya
This book isn't out yet, Robin Talley's Lies We Tell Ourselves (on shelves September 30). It is set in 1959 Virginia, during the de-segregation of a fictional high school, and is told from the perspective of a black girl and a white girl who are not only on opposite sides of the racial divide but are falling in love against all odds. It is a powerful, unforgettable read that shows how far we've come, and just how far we still have to go for civil and human rights in the US.
On email, Molly
I read through list and saw that many of my favorites are missing (though I have some new books to check out, too!). The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (they even get a happy ending!)
On email, Lenore
I would like to suggest How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis. It is a heart-warming story about friendship, fandom, family values, self-acceptance and love, and in my opinion it should be included in every school library.
On email, Amy
The Summer I Wasn't Me, by Jessica Verdi, is about two girls who fall in love at an ex-gay camp. It is a beautiful read and and sheds a much needed light on these types of camps.
On email, Calen
Rainbow Boys series by Alex Sanchez (Rainbow Road is my fave), Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger, Geography Club series by Brent Hartinger (I like Order of the Poison Oak best), Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (and everything else she ever wrote). BUT MY NEW FAVOURITE is a newer book called What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson. All the older books take part in the tragifying or sensationalizing of queerness, (yes, even Boy Meets Boy, if only because the reader knows the contrast of their world to ours). What They Always Tell Us is a queer teen model for the modern age where LGBT youths are coming out in more and more accepting environments. It doesn't deny the dangers of coming out to the world, but it skips the agony of coming out to oneself, allowing the love to precede and eclipse the internal struggle of labeling ones queerness that featured so strongly in early millennial queer teen lit. Adults will say I wish I had that and youths will find a desensationalized narrative of queer discovery.
On email, Jim
BR Collins's Love in Revolution, an incredible love story between two girls falling for each other during a revolution in an unnamed Basque country. It's a wonderful central pairing and a completely gripping story, with one of the most stunning endings I've ever read.
On email, Tim
Check out The Thousand Natural Shocks by Michael Sáenz
On email, Susan
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
On email, Amy
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert and What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg.
On email, Cheril
For younger kids, Keesha & Her Two Moms Go Swimming, and Adopting Ahava by Jennifer Byrne. My wife and I have tried to build a library of multi-cultural, LGBT-themed picture books which has loads more great recommendations.
On email, Diane
Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzalez is a coming of age novel about a gay latino teenager living in the macho culture of the South Bronx. I found it challenging and eye-opening.
On email, Mark
Paul Magrs' Strange Boy, a lovingly written account of growing up and being different, of divided and extended families, with some great characters like Big Nana and Little Nana and the mum's dozy Australian boyfriend. It's my partner's all-time favourite LGBT novel; although deemed a bit 'controversial' at the time of publication, it's subtle and funny, and everyone I know who's read this beautiful novel has loved it.
On email, Lisa
Country Girl, City Girl by Lisa Jahn-Clough deals with early sexuality issues. For younger young adults, age 10 up. You might consider adding it to your list.
On email, Gyky
I would like to share the Filipino children's book written by Bernadette Neri, Ang Ikaklit sa Aming Hardin (Ikaklit in Our Garden). The story focus on the challenges faced by a young girl with 2 mothers, as well as issues of non-traditional families living in a heteronormative society.
On email, Lynsey
The Noah and Ronan series by Ashley Chunell would be great ones! :) Heartwarming story with great characters.
On facebook, Jo
Two Weeks with the Queen by Morris Gleitzman.
On email, Jamie
When I was first realizing I was attracted to men I went and found a book in the library which I ended up stealing because I didn't want anyone to know I had checked it out. The book was The World of Normal Boys by K.M. Soehnlein. It helped immensely just to read about someone who was having similar thoughts like my own.
On email, Rachael
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. It's a book I read as a teen and tells of a beautiful relationship.
On email, Sarah
These recommendations are for young children:
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, and illustrated by Henry Cole. True story in Central Park Zoo, two male penguins try and hatch a stone as they copy the other penguin couples. Zoo keeper gives them an egg which they hatch together. Out pops Tango their little girl penguin. Real favourite in our house.
Next two are so children can read about families that reflect their own: Mommy, Mama and me; Daddy, Papa and me, both by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson.
On Twitter, @EricRosswood
I would love it if you could include My Uncle's Wedding in your list of LGBT children's books! It's in here now Eric, and we are glad it is!
On email, Orville
I would recommend Under My Skin to teenagers; I remember when I was a teen many years ago, there were no LGBT books specifically about black gay LGBT people and the poetry in Under My Skin challenges black homophobia.
On email, Vee from GayYA.org: My favorites are Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff and Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block. Although wildly different (one being realism, one a post-apocalyptic re-telling of the Odyssey), they were the first books I – as a pansexual and non-binary teen – read in which I existed. They're also both extremely well-written, and the authors are like the coolest people on the planet.
On email, Kathleen from GayYA.org: I'd recommend Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin. It's a historical romance with REALLY CUTE QUEER GIRLS set in the 1920's.
On email, Stacey
I loved Ash and Huntress by Malinda Lo. These were both fantasy fiction with strong female characters. Beautiful stories. I loved them. They made me see how natural love is between two people regardless of who those people might be.
On email, Anne
Don't forget the gentle contemporary school story Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton for younger YA.
On email, Alexandra
We would like to suggest The Gripper Slipper by Anna Alexander and Caz Ferrell to be added to your amazing compilation of LGBT children's books.
On email, Ellie
I think that you should add Binge by Tyler Oakley to your list as it is a very interesting book all about his life story and his personal experiences with a part of the LGBT community.