Reading on People and Topics Outside Traditional Gender Boundaries | Read Woke

Share these books during LGBT History Month and keep them in the collection for much-needed representation as LGBTQIA+ titles face protests and calls for book banning.

October is LGBT History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the rich legacy of the LGBTQIA+ community and the still urgent battle for ­equality. With recent legislation banning books that are specifically or mostly centered on LGBTQIA+ characters and themes, it is imperative that we continue to stand up for this representation in children’s literature.

Librarians must keep fighting back by using our purchasing power, our gift-giving power, and our speaking power. By having titles like the below fiction and nonfiction works in our collection, we are telling our students that LGBTQIA+ individuals of all ages, past and ­present, are worthy of representation and respect­.

My Own Way: Celebrating Gender Freedom for Kids by Joana Estrela, adapted by Jay Hulme. Wide Eyed ­Editions.
PreS-Gr 1 –This title delivers a beautiful message for the youngest readers about identity: “Being unique is what makes us all special. We don’t have to choose ­between pink or blue, or boy or girl, as long as it makes us happy.” The simple illustrations of all kinds of faces and ­characters in assorted colors help to draw the reader into the message that they can be the authors to their identity.

A Queer History of the United States for Young People by Michael Bronski, adapted by Richie Chevat. Beacon Press.
Gr 7 Up –This adaptation is a great resource to help teach readers about how LGBTQIA+ people have contributed to U.S. history and the culture, from 19th century poet Emily Dickinson to civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin and antiwar and AIDS activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya. Learn about individuals from members of Indigenous tribes that accepted an array of gender identities to teens fighting for trans-inclusive bathroom policies.

Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales by Melanie ­Gillman. Random House Graphic.
Gr 7 Up–These feminist and queer fairy tales will warm the hearts of all young readers. Stonewall Honor author Gillman uses colored pencils to illustrate this work that overturns archetypes of traditional tales. ­Barmaids, wise old women, and mermaids are front and center. I highly recommend this for anyone who never saw their ­happily-ever-after in a fairy tale.

Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas. Kokila/PRH.
Gr 7 Up –Imagine Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; now add two Black queer kids, and you have Kings of B’more. Linus and Harrison are on a grand adventure through Baltimore on the day before one of them has to move away. They make a pact to do all the things they have been afraid to do and manage to keep their parents in the dark despite the location tracking app used by their families. Take an adventure with this one!

No Way, They Were Gay? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves by Lee Wind. Zest Books.
Gr 6 Up –Do you know what a quiltbag is? If not, read this book. Wind uses a wealth of primary sources and formats to captures the reader’s attention, while profiling historical figures who live outside gender boundaries, from ­political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi to First Lady ­Eleanor Roosevelt and Native American artist We’wha. A helpful resource that should be in every ­collection.

If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber. Inkyard.
Gr 7 Up –After heartbreak, Harry is convinced that love only exists in movies, and he vows to get focused and follow his dreams of writing a screenplay and gaining admission to college. Then his ex returns with a secret, and there’s a new guy in town who complicates things further. This hilarious and upbeat novel full of pop culture references will appeal to fans of Nicola Yoon and Jenny Han and all who love rom coms.

Read Woke founder Cicely Lewis (Twitter: @cicelythegreat) welcomes suggestions.

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