The American Library Association (ALA) on Monday announced its annual Stonewall Book Awards for LGBT-inclusive children’s and young adult books, as well as its more extensive Rainbow List of notable titles. Let’s take a look.
The Stonewall Book Award — Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award (to distinguish them from the Stonewall Book Awards for adult books) is part of the ALA’s Youth Media awards that also include the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott medals. This year, it went to This Day in June, written by Gayle Pitman and illustrated by Kristyna Litten, for ages 4-8 years. This wonderful celebration of LGBTQ culture takes us on a lively and colorful trip to a Pride parade—where we’re introduced to dykes on bikes, people in leather, drag queens and others of varying gender expressions, politicians, marching bands, and parents with their children. Here’s my full review of it (along with a mention of an earlier children’s book about Pride). It’s well deserving of the award.
In addition to the top award, the ALA selected three Honor Books:
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin, for grades 7-12.
- I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson, about a gay teen and his twin sister. For ages 14+. This book also won the ALA’s prestigious Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.
- Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, written by Christine Baldacchino and illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, about a boy who likes to wear a dress from his classroom’s dress-up center. His classmates tease him, but he finds his own solution along with support from his parents. For ages 4-8.
For the longer Rainbow List, aimed at helping librarians and others build a collection of quality children’s and young adult (YA) books with LGBT content, the ALA’s Rainbow Project committee “evaluated over 140 books from small, independent, and large publishers. The then chose 24 books from 15 publishers for the 2015 Rainbow List. This year, “members noted an increase in the number of titles featuring authentic trans voices as well as an increase in picture books.” That’s definitely an improvement from last year (which I covered here), although I’d still like to see even more books that cover people and families of specific racial, ethnic, and religious identities. (That’s not a criticism of the Rainbow Project as much as the world of LGBTQ children’s book publishing generally.)
In addition to all of the Stonewall Book Award picks, the Rainbow List includes the following books for younger and middle-grade children. (Most of the YA books on the list are about LGBTQ teens, not teens with LGBTQ parents—though the groups are not mutually exclusive—so I’m going to let you pop over to the Rainbow List site if you want to see those.)
- Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle, for ages 10-14. In the sequel to Better Nate Than Ever, which made last year’s Rainbow List, Nate Foster’s Broadway dreams are finally coming true.
- Not Every Princess, by Jeffrey and Lisa Bone, for grades Pre-K-3. Through rhymes and whimsical illustrations, this book shows that anyone can be a princess, a pirate, a mermaid, or a superhero.
- I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, for ages 4-8. Based on the life of Jazz Jennings, about her experiences growing up as a transkid.
This Day in June and Not Every Princess were also chosen as Rainbow List Top Ten Titles.
Also notable is that author and lesbian mom Jaqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award “recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults.” The book was also named a Newbery Honor Book, a runner up “for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature” and a Sibert Honor Book, a runner up “for most distinguished informational book for children.” It won the National Book Award last year. Woodson’s earlier book, From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, about a boy who learns that his mom is dating another woman, was a Coretta Scott King Award honoree in 1996.
I’m always excited to see each year’s Rainbow List. I first covered it when it launched in 2008, and am thrilled that it continues to be a thoughtful reference for librarians, teachers, and parents. Representation matters, and the Rainbow List helps it happen.
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