At ALA Midwinter I had the honor of finishing my time on the Rainbow Booklist Committee with two days of interesting discussions about wonderful books. I am pleased to share with you our final list of the best LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) books for kids and teens that were published between July 2015 and December 2016. You can find the entire list on the Rainbow Booklist website; I am going to highlight the top books for kids through grades 6 here. The final list includes almost 50 titles and of these we selected a top 10. Top ten titles are indicated with an *.
If you don’t have the budget to collect all of the titles on this list, the top titles to consider include the picture book Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship, the graphic novel Princess, Princess, Ever After, the entire Lumberjanes graphic series, the non-fiction Pride: Celebrating Community and Diversity, and two middle grade novels: Lily and Dunkin and The Other Boy.
Austrian, J.J. Worm Loves Worm. Written by J.J. Austrian; illus. by Mike Curato. 2016. 32p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, $17.99 (9780062386335). Age 3-8. Worm loves worm, and now they want to get married. But which worm is the bride and which is the groom? And does it matter?
Howe, James. Big Bob, Little Bob. Written by James Howe; , illus. by Laura Ellen Anderson. 2016. 32p. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763644369). Ages 3-7. Three friends learn that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to playing with toys.
* Ismail, Yasmeen. I’m a Girl. 2016. 32p. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (9781619639751). Ages 3-7. A spunky child is not afraid to be herself.
* Walton, Jessica. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship. Written by Jessica Walton; illus. by Dougal MacPherson. 2016. 32p. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (9781681192109). Ages 3-6. Errol’s teddy bear, Thomas, is sad until telling Errol the bear is actually a girl teddy bear and wants to be called Tilly. Errol and Tilly move the bow-tie from her identity as Thomas to a hair bow for Tilly. Errol only cares that the teddy bear is his friend.
Williams, Vera and Chris Raschka. Home at Last. 2016. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780061349737). Age 5-8. Lester finds a loving home with Daddy Rich and Daddy Albert and their big, fluffy dog.
* O’Neill, Katie. Princess Princess Ever After. 2016. 53p. Oni Press, $12.99 (9781620103401). Grades 2-5. A graphic novel where girls are heroes, monsters just want to dance, and two princess find their happily ever after together.
Stevenson, Noelle, Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak, Maarta Laiho, and others. Lumberjanes Volume 3: A Terrible Plan. 2016. 112p. Simon & Schuster/Boom Studios, $14.99 (9781608868032). Grades 6-12. During a free day at camp, Jo, April, and Ripley try to earn as many badges as possible, while Mal and Molly’s picnic date turns into a journey to a parallel dimension when the Bear Woman shows up.
Gephart, Donna. Lily and Dunkin. 2016. 340p. Random House Children’s/Delacorte, $16.99 (9780553536744). Grades 4-6. Lily is fighting to live openly as a girl, Dunkin is fighting his memories of his father, and they’re both fighting to save the tree in front of the library.
Hennessey, M. G. The Other Boy. 2016. 234p. HarperCollins, $16.99 (9780062427663). Grades 5-8. Twelve-year-old Shane loves baseball, drawing, and hanging out with his best friend until a transphobic school bully targets him. When Shane loses hope for finding his place in the world, some unexpected allies step forward.
Levy, Dana Alison. The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island. 2016. 259p. Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (9780553521306). Grades 3-5. The Fletcher family looks forward to their regular vacation at Rock Island: clam chowder, swimming, ice cream, and most of all the lighthouse. But when they find the lighthouse fenced off when they arrive, it starts a summer unlike all the rest.
Riordan, Rick. The Hidden Oracle. 2016. 376p. Disney, $19.99 (9781484732748). Grades 5-8. Apollo’s in trouble with Zeus and has been banished to Earth as a mortal with none of his godly powers, so he makes his way to Camp Half-Blood before finding out about an all-new threat to Camp Half-Blood and the world.
Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, 2016. 471. Disney, $19.99 (978-1423160922). Grades 5-8. Stonewall Book Awards–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s Award Book. In Magnus’s second adventure, Rick Riordan introduces readers to Alex Fierro, a gender fluid teen who has “startling eyes, an impressive sweater-vest, and a tendency to hit people” (54). Alex is a hero and represents the expansive possibilities of gender for future generations.
Middle Grade Non-Fiction
Stevenson, Robin. Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community. 2016. 119p. Orca Books, $24.95 (9781459809932). Grades 4-8. Stonewall Book Awards–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s Honor Book. A visually stunning history and celebration of pride.