American Library Association Honors LGBT-Inclusive Books for Kids and Young Adults

LGBT-inclusive children’s and young adult books are hard to find. Good ones are even harder. I’m delighted, therefore, that the American Library Association has just honored a number of new ones in two ways, through their Stonewall Book Awards and their Rainbow List.

The Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award, is “given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.” This year’s Stonewall Award winner is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

There were also four Stonewall Honor Books (runners up):

See the full list of the ALA’s Youth Media Awards, which include not only the Stonewall Award children’s/YA award, but also the mighty Newbery and Caldecott awards and awards that honor books depicting the Black, Latino, and disability experience, among others. In a wonderful display of intersectionality,  Stonewall Award winner Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe also won the Pura Belpré (Author) Award “honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.”

The Stonewall Awards honor the very best books. Of somewhat broader scope is the 2013 Rainbow List, now in its sixth year, which consists of books for ages 0-18 that contain “significant and authentic GLBTQ content.” They are chosen by librarians for both quality and content.

The Rainbow List committee considered over 150 books published between July 2011 and December 2012, and selected 49 books from 31 publishers for the final list.

The committee commented, “Small, independent, and large publishers as well as self-published authors drew the interest of the committee with genres ranging from science fiction to gritty short stories, realistic fiction to graphic novels, and even a picture book bending gender roles. While there is a vast array of young adult fiction titles, non-fiction for any age, including memoirs and history so vital to tying a culture together, is still sparse.” (Yes, LGBT-inclusive non-fiction for children, especially younger ages, is sadly lacking, as I’ve written before.)

The Rainbow Project Web site has the full Rainbow List. Below are the books on this year’s list that I’ve written about here at Mombian.

The one picture book on the list, whose LGBT content is implicit rather than explicit, is Willie and Uncle Bill, by Amy Schwartz, about a boy and his uncle who have various fun adventures behind the mother’s back.

The committee also rejected two books “because the intended audience was not young readers,” but make note of them “because they include information important for GLBTQ youth and those who work with and support them.” I’ve written about them, too:

A big thanks to the committee and the authors and illustrators dedicated to creating and promoting children’s and young adult books that include LGBT voices. LGBT children and children of LGBT parents will benefit from seeing their lives reflected; their peers will benefit from learning about the great diversity in our world. We need to hear yet more voices, but this list shows that we’ve made a good start.

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