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Teaching with Canadian Books

Why LGBTQ+ books belong in the classroom and in school libraries

Brand new books from Canadian authors and illustrators that feature LGBTQ+ characters and/or themes available for different grade levels.


Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.


Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

Recently proposed gender policies from the Government of Alberta have received criticism from LGBTQ+ organizations and allies across the country. There is growing concern these policies would put barriers to access LGBTQ+ books in schools and silence the voices of LGBTQ+ authors in the classroom.

Author Victoria Koops knows the challenges that LGBTQ+ students face in Canadian schools. Her debut YA novel, Who We Are in Real Life, is set in a small prairie town and shares the story a group of Dungeons & Dragons-obsessed teens who use their tabletop gaming skills IRL to campaign to form a queer-straight alliance at their high school.

Author photo of Victoria Koops

Author Victoria Koops

I asked Victoria about the importance of LGBTQ+ books to LGBTQ+ students, here’s what she had to say:

Why is it important that young readers have access to LGBTQ+ books in school classrooms and libraries?

VK Pick a reason: because representation matters, because stories connect people, because rainbows are pretty, because accessibility is cool. I could go on.
Honestly though, I can't believe we're still debating censorship in 2024. Young readers deserve to have stories that both reflect and challenge their lived reality—which, newsflash, includes queer books because there are queer kids, queer families, and queer people!—available in their schools and libraries. Anything less is censorship at best (since when has censorship been the best-case scenario?) and marginalization (therefore homophobic) at worst. Let's not forget that silence is a stance; protecting queer stories, protects queer youth.

How can teachers and school librarians be supportive allies to their LGBTQ+ students?

Cover image for Who We Are In Real Life

VK We often overthink this one, but the answer is so, so simple. Adults can be supportive allies to queer youth by listening. I'm bisexual and a school counsellor, I'm also a QSA advisor and I like to think that I'm well-informed. I have a university degree, I'm a registered social worker, and I published a book, but even with all these credentials, I'm constantly—and I mean constantly—stunned, challenged, and inspired by how much my students have to teach me. When we get out of our own way and listen, we learn from the experts—the students.

What message do you have for LGBTQ+ students who pick up your book?

VK I wrote Who We Are In Real Life with the sincere hope that 2SLGBTQIA+ youth would feel seen, so I want to answer this question by speaking directly to queer students, especially to those who need someone in their corner: May you find your heroic self in this story. I see you—you are brave and beautiful, and most importantly, you are not alone.


Simply stated, LGBTQ+ books belong in the classroom and in school libraries.

This booklist includes brand new books from Canadian authors and illustrators that feature LGBTQ+ characters and/or themes available for different grade levels.


Inclusive picture books for young readers


It’s a They! / Bienvenue à notre adelphe! (ages 3-5) is a dual-language picture book told in sweet rhyming couplets. Capturing all the the excitement of welcoming home a new baby sibling, this book introduces little readers to the idea of gender-neutral pronouns.

Cover image for Fluffy and the Stars

From T'áncháy Redvers, a Dene/Métis two-spirit writer, Fluffy and the Stars (3-5) is a heartfelt depiction of what happens when a beloved pet dies that touches on emotions of grief and loss from a perspective of love and healing. Shay, the main character, uses they/them pronouns. A teacher’s guide is available.

Cover image for Pirate Glitterbeard

Pirate Glitterbeard (ages 6-9) is ideal for classroom read-aloud with its humour, wordplay, and bright enticing illustrations. This glitter-filled story about a group of silly, fun-loving pirates challenges gender norms and celebrates self-expression. Teacher resources are available online.


Explore identity in chapter books for early readers


Ghost Girl (ages 6-8) is a mysterious adventure story set in an old mansion. Ten-year-old Sly rushes to save their grandmother from being imprisoned in a mirror. While not a focus of the plot, protagonist Sly’s nonbinary identity is a welcome detail. 


Salma Writes A Book (ages 6-9) continues the story of Salma and her family adjusting to life in Canada. In this book, Salma is preparing to be a good sister and learning from her uncle Khalou, who is married to a man. This thoughtful examination of sibling relationships includes important representation of a loving same-sex couple. An educator guide is available.

Cover image for Mehndi Boy

Mehndi Boy (ages 6-11) offers positive representation of a boy exploring gender expression and challenging gender norms. In the story, young Tehzeeb is finding his passion for mehndi art and sticks to it despite being told this art form “isn’t for boys”. An author video and discussion questions are available online.


Learn queer history and experiences with middle grade non-fiction


Pride and Persistence: Stories of Queer Activism (ages 9-12) profiles dozens of women and non binary folks standing up for the queer community. This resource shows that allyship and activism can take many forms—speaking at rally, leading march, building community, standing up for others, or simply being a good friend.

Cover image for Queer History A to Z

Queer History A to Z: 100 Years of LGBTQ+ Activism (ages 10-14) is an upcoming resource for middle readers that details the people, events and places that have shaped queer history in North America. 100 years of LGBTQ+ activism is presented in an A to Z format, with one topic per letter (“P Is for Pride”).


Are We Friends Now? An Anthology By and About 2SLGBTQ+ Youth (ages 13-17) collection of writing from LGBTQ+ youth and allies from around PEI. These short stories and poems allow readers to directly connect with the stories and experiences of LGBTQ+ youth.


Exciting debut young adult novels with LGBTQ+ representation

Cover image for Who We Are In Real Life

Who We Are In Real Life (ages 13-17) follows a teenager named Darcy who moves to a small prairie town and falls for quiet Art after he invites her to join his Dungeons & Dragons game. Things get complicated when Art’s father, a conservative figure in town, tries to prevent Darcy and her friends from starting a queer-straight alliance at school.

Cover image for Dragging Mason County

Dragging Mason County (ages 14-18) examines the realities of small-town queer life and celebrates the transformative power of drag through one teen’s journey to self-acceptance. The story is about best friends Peter and Alan and all the ups and downs they experience attempting to throw the first Drag Extravaganza in their small rural town. Watch this intro video from author Curtis Campbell.


Crash Landing (ages 14-18) explores queer identity, growing up in an immigrant community, and finding your place in the world (with the help of your friends). Set in Vancouver during the summer of 2010, soon-to-be high school senior Jay Wong enters a skateboarding competition that will change the way she looks at life.



Spencer Miller is a teacher, writer, reader, and fan of the Toronto Raptors. He is currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of Calgary (Treaty 7). You can follow more of Spencer’s passion for books on Instagram @SpencerBMiller.