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10 Books for Young People to Read with PRIDE

tagged: pride, 49th kids, LGBTQ

A selection of recent books by LGBTQ authors and/or featuring LGBTQ characters or themes—and also featuring hamsters, promposals, Walt Whitman, and whales. 

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Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life, by Beverley Brenna, illustrated by Tara Anderson (Middle Grade)

About the book: It’s not every day you encounter a hamster experiencing an existential crisis, but Sapphire has spent her short pet-store life convinced that she’s waiting for…something. At first she thinks it’s to be FREE, but it may be possible that life has a greater purpose in store—a purpose Sapphire will discover thanks to a nine-year-old girl whose family is changing in ways she doesn’t quite understand. Jeannie’s dad has moved out, her mom is always tired and snappish, and her older brother just wants to play video games in his room all day. Jeannie doesn’t understand what’s going on, but she knows one thing: she really, REALLY wants a hamster. Her mom promised she could buy one with her Christmas money, but it’s been WEEKS since the holidays and Jeannie’s beginning to worry she’ll never get her pet. But maybe if she does, her dad will come to visit. Maybe a hamster will make everything better. Narrated by Jeannie and Sapphire in alternating chapters, Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life is a touching middle-grade novel by award-winning author Beverley Brenna that explores themes of family, friendship, togetherness, and self-identity. With a cast that includes a transgender neighbor, a father coming out as gay, and a realistic protagonist who will appeal to fans of Ramona Quimby, Brenna’s latest offering is an age-appropriate introduction to some difficult subjects that also abounds with humor and poignancy.

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Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, by 'Nathan Burgoine (YA)

About the book: Being the kid abducted by crazy old Ms. Easton when he was four permanently set Cole’s status to freak. At seventeen, his exit plan is simple: make it through the last few weeks of high school with his grades up and his head down.

When he pushes through the front door of the school and finds himself eighty kilometers away holding the door of a museum he was just thinking about, Cole faces facts: he’s either crazier than old Ms. Easton, or he just teleported.

Now every door is an accident waiting to happen—especially when Cole thinks about Malik, who, it turns out, has a glass door on his shower. When he starts seeing the same creepy people over his shoulder, no matter how far he’s gone, crushes become the least of his worries. They want him to stop, and they'll go to any length to make it happen.

Cole is running out of luck, excuses, and places to hide.

Time for a new exit plan.

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Cub, by Paul Coccia (YA)

About the book: In the gay community, a young, husky man is known as a "cub." Seventeen-year-old Theo fits the definition perfectly, but he is very self-conscious about his body. So when his best friend signs him up for a cooking competition at Heat, the city's newest trendy restaurant, Theo is nervous. He's confident in his baking ability, and dreams of opening his own bakery one day, but he's not a chef, and he hates being in the spotlight.

As Theo survives round after round, he gains the admiration of both the audience and the restaurant owner, a sexy celebrity chef known as KCC. When the owner makes it clear he is more interested in what Theo might do outside the kitchen, Theo has to decide how far he is willing to go to launch his career.

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Prom Kings, by Tony Correia (YA)

About the book: When the queer prom committee asks Charlie to join them, Charlie figures it'll be a good way to get closer to cute new guy Andre—and maybe even ask him to be his prom date! The only problem is that Charlie has competition for Andre's attention in rich, good-looking Chad, who Charlie can't stand.

Charlie and his pal Luis come up with a plan to get Andre's attention—to woo Andre as a secret admirer and then reveal Charlie's true identity with a spectacular promposal that Andre can't refuse. But when the promposal starts to go wrong, Charlie panics and says that he couldn't possibly be Andre's secret admirer, because he's been dating Luis!

Luis, however, is offended by Charlie using him as a decoy. Charlie begins to realize how much fun he's been having with Luis and thinks maybe he's been going after the wrong guy. He apologizes to Luis and asks him to be his prom date instead. Luis accepts.

Meanwhile, Andre has decided to accept Charlie's promposal. Now Charlie has two dates for prom! How will Charlie decide which guy to go with?

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We Contain Multitudes, by Sarah Henstra (YA)

About the book: Thrown together by a zealous English teacher's classroom-mailbox assignment, notorious scrapper, Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky, and Jonathan Hopkirk, a flamboyant Walt Whitman wannabe, have to write an old-fashioned letter to each other every week. 

Kurl is a senior, an ex high school football player, held back a year, while Jo is a nerdy, out tenth grader with a penchant for vintage clothes and a deep love for poetry. They are an unlikely pair, but with each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying and familial abuse, Jonathan and Kurl must struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship, and each other.

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What Makes You Beautiful, by Bridget Liang (YA)

About the book: Logan Osborne knows he likes boys, but has not come out to his family or at school, and no one knows that he likes to sometimes wear girls' clothes and makeup. When he starts at a school for the arts he finds a wider range of gender and orientation being accepted. Logan is attracted to Kyle, who has gay dads. But Kyle is straight. Logan finds he doesn't like the way gay boys treat him, and a disturbing hookup with a boy who is fetishistic about Logan's half-Asian background makes Logan even more confused about what he wants and who he is.

Encouraged and supported by his friends at school, Logan experiments with nail polish and more feminine clothes in public. Logan begins questioning his gender and decides to use they pronouns while trying to figure things out. Logan meets a classmate's chosen mother, who is a transgender Chinese woman, and begins to come to terms with their gender identity. Realizing they are not a gay boy, but a transgender girl, Logan asks for people to call them Veronica. As a girl, does Veronica stand a chance with Kyle?

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A Possibility of Whales, by Karen Rivers (Middle Grade)

About the book: Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher has to move, again.

The paparazzi are stalking Nat and her movie-star father. And it’s all her ex­–best friend Solly’s fault . . . sort of. But Nat doesn’t want to think about that. Nat prefers to think of the possibilities ahead of her: the possibility that she’ll see whales on the beach near her new home, that Harry—who she just met—will be her new best friend, that she and her dad won’t have to move again again.

Most of all, Nat dreams of the possibility that her faraway mother misses and loves her—and is waiting for Nat to find her. Then, just as Nat is settling in to her new home, unexpected events, including a chance encounter with a whale, send her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life—and quite possibly her father’s, Harry’s, and Solly’s too—forever.

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Caterpillars Can't Swim, by Liane Shaw (YA)

About the book: Ryan finds his freedom in the water, where he is not bound by gravity and his wheelchair. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from the water their lives become connected, whether they like it or not. Ryan keeps Jack's secret about that day in the water, but he knows that Jack needs help. The school is full of rumors about Jack's sexuality, and he has few friends. Almost against his better judgement, Ryan decides to invite Jack on a trip to Comic Con he's planned with his best friend Cody, the captain of the school's swim team. The three boys make an unlikely combination, but they will each have the chance to show whether they are brave enough to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define them by.

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Chicken Girl, by Heather Smith (YA)

About the book: Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she's having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present. But just as she comes to terms with the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, she is tested by a deep betrayal.

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Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (YA)

About the book: All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her. The day they got back together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny and SO CUTE … but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s friends can’t understand why she keeps going back.

When Freddy consults the services of a local mystic, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn’t thrilled with the advice she receives. But something’s got to give: Freddy’s heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice, to help her through being a teenager in love.

Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.

June 3, 2019

Books mentioned in this post

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Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life

by Beverley Brenna, illustrated by Tara Anderson
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 7 to 11
  • Grade: 2 to 6
tagged: mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc., friendship, lgbt, marriage & divorce

It’s not every day you encounter a hamster experiencing an existential crisis, but Sapphire has spent her short pet-store life convinced that she’s waiting for…something. At first she thinks it’s to be FREE, but it may be possible that life has a greater purpose in store—a purpose Sapphire will discover thanks to a nine-year-old girl whos …

rated!
rated!

Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

by 'Nathan Burgoine
edition: Paperback
  • age: 14 to 18
  • Grade: 9 to 13
tagged: contemporary, lgbt, coming of age

Being the kid abducted by crazy old Ms. Easton when he was four permanently set Cole’s status to freak. At seventeen, his exit plan is simple: make it through the last few weeks of high school with his grades up and his head down.

When he pushes through the front door of the school and finds himself eighty kilometers away holding the door of a m …

rated!
rated!

Cub

by Paul Coccia
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
  • age: 12 to 100
  • Grade: 8 to 12
tagged: lgbt, cooking & food, eating disorders & body image

In the gay community, a young, husky man is known as a "cub"” Seventeen-year-old Theo fits the definition perfectly, but he is very self-conscious about his body. So when his best friend signs him up for a cooking competition at Heat, the city's newest trendy restaurant, Theo is nervous. He's confident in his baking ability, and dreams of opening …

rated!
rated!

Prom Kings

by Tony Correia
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
  • age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 3
tagged: lgbt, dating & sex, contemporary

When the queer prom committee asks Charlie to join them, Charlie figures it'll be a good way to get closer to cute new guy Andre — and maybe even ask him to be his prom date! The only problem is that Charlie has competition for Andre's attention in rich, good-looking Chad, who Charlie can't stand.

Charlie and his pal Luis come up with a plan to ge …

rated!
rated!

We Contain Multitudes

by Sarah Henstra
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 14 to 100
  • Grade: 9 to 17
tagged: lgbt, epistolary (letters & diaries), boys & men

An exhilarating and emotional LGBTQ story about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters written to one another. For fans of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and I’ll Give You the Sun.

Thrown together by a zealous English teacher's classroom-mailbox assignment, notorious scrapper, Adam "Kur …

rated!
rated!

What Makes You Beautiful

by Bridget Liang
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 3
tagged: lgbt, contemporary, dating & sex, self-esteem & self-reliance

Logan Osborne knows he likes boys, but has not come out to his family or at school, and no one knows that he likes to sometimes wear girls' clothes and makeup. When he starts at a school for the arts he finds a wider range of gender and orientation being accepted. Logan is attracted to Kyle, who has gay dads. But Kyle is straight. Logan finds he do …

rated!
rated!

A Possibility of Whales

by Karen Rivers
edition: Paperback
also available: Hardcover
  • age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
tagged: friendship, parents, lgbt

Be brave and make a big splash!
 
 
Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher has to move, again.
 
The paparazzi are stalking Nat and her movie-star father. And it’s all her ex­–best friend Solly’s fault . . . sort of. But Nat doesn’t want to think about that. Nat prefers to think of the possibilities ahead of her: the possibil …

rated!
rated!

Caterpillars Can't Swim

by Liane Shaw
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
  • age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
tagged: disabilities & special needs, lgbt, bullying

Ryan finds his freedom in the water, where he is not bound by gravity and his wheelchair. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from the water their lives become connected, whether they like it or not. Ryan keeps Jack's secret about that day in the water, but he knows that Jack needs help. The school is full of rumors about Jack's sexuality, and he …

rated!
rated!

Chicken Girl

by Heather T. Smith
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 12 to 100
  • Grade: 7 to 17
tagged: lgbt, homelessness & poverty, self-esteem & self-reliance

Everybody has a story that will break your heart; a poignant coming-of-age YA for fans of David Arnold, from the author of the acclaimed The Agony of Bun O'Keefe, a Kirkus Best of the Year selection.

Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she's having trouble seeing the good in the world …

rated!
rated!

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
  • age: 14 to 100
  • Grade: 9 to 17
tagged: lgbt, friendship

All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her. The day they got back together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny and SO CUTE … but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s …

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