The Rainbow Boxes initiative was founded by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta, authors of young adult books. Their goal is “to send one Rainbow Box containing 15 carefully selected books to one community library and one GSA [Gay-Straight Alliance] or LGBTQIA homeless shelter in every state in the United States.”
The books cover the LGBTQIA spectrum, but McCarthy and Capetta assert that they are both for teenagers “who need to see themselves in stories” as well as for those outside of the LGBTQIA community. The two are raising money through an IndieGoGo campaign, and say each box of books will cost about $250 (though people can donate at lower levels).
There’s another project that has been sending boxes of LGBTQ-inclusive books to schools, GSAs, and shelters for several years, however. In 2011, then-14-year-old Amelia Roskin-Frazee, an out lesbian from California, created the Make It Safe Project, which raises money (through donations at its website) to do exactly that. I had the pleasure of interviewing her right after it launched, and she updated me yesterday on its progress to date:
We’ve given 120,000 teens access to books in schools and youth homeless shelters in 23 states and abroad. We’ve had many authors of the books we send including Melinda Lo (Ash; Little, Brown and Company), Alex Sanchez (Rainbow Boys; Simon & Schuster), and Nancy Garden (Annie on My Mind; Macmillan) write for our website about the importance of LGBTQ YA fiction and their inspirations.
Roskin-Frazee, who is on the National Advisory Council for GLSEN, also wants Make It Safe to reach out with books to juvenile detention centers. Additionally, in response to the growing number of LGBTQ-inclusive books for teens, she is planning to revise the selection that Make It Safe sends. and hopes also to find ways of encouraging young writers to diversify protagonists in their stories. She especially wants books that are less “issue driven,” and include more non-White and gender nonconforming protagonists.
More ways of getting LGBTQ-inclusive books into the hands of the youth who need them? Yes, please.