The American Library Association (ALA) has announced its picks for the best LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books of the year—making it one of my favorite days of the year. Let’s take a look.
The Stonewall Book Award — Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award (to distinguish it 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’s winners were:
- George, by Alex Gino, in the children’s book category, about a transgender girl who wants the role of Charlotte in her school’s performance of Charlotte’s Web.
- The Porcupine of Truth, by Bill Konigsberg, in the young adult category, about a straight boy, a lesbian girl, and an epic road trip.
Two honor books were also chosen:
- Wonders of the Invisible World, by Christopher Barzak, about two teens in a farming community, with spirits, curses, and first love mixed in.
- Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU, by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, illustrated by Fiona Smyth. I’m particularly pleased to see this book on the list, as it fills a big gap in sex education that is inclusive of all gender identities. I interviewed Silverberg and reviewed the book when it first came out.
Additionally, the ALA’s Rainbow Book List Committee announced its 2016 Rainbow List, a bibliography of books with “significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content” for youth from birth through age 18. Over 250 books published between July 2014 and December 2015 were evaluated, of which 40 (from 27 different publishers) made the final list, in addition to the Stonewall picks above. That’s up from 140 books and 15 publishers in last year’s list, supporting the committee’s observation of “the staggering increase in number of books of quality that fit the criteria of the list, as well as a number of books with bisexual and intersex representation.”
On the down side, the committee observed “the decrease in books for younger readers, as well as the continued small numbers of LGBTQ characters of color or with disabilities. Also, as in previous years, high-quality nonfiction, including memoirs and history so vital to tying a culture together, remains sparse.”
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.)
- Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, about a crayon discovering his true color.
- Heather Has Two Mommies, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Laura Cornell. This is the wonderfully updated version of the classic tale. My review here.
- Families, Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly, which celebrates different types of families through colorful and fun photographs.
- Stella Brings the Family, by Miriam Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown, about a girl with two dads trying to figure out who to bring as a class guest on Mother’s Day.
- Zak’s Safari, by Christy Tyner, a Kickstarter-funded book in which a young boy explains his moms’ relationship, donor insemination, and what makes a family. (My review here.)
- And on the non-fiction side for younger children is Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities, by Jerome Pohlen, which I reviewed here.
Sex Is a Funny Word was also chosen for the Rainbow List’s Top Ten picks, “highlighting books of exceptional queer representation and literary merit to receive particular commendation.”
I first covered the Rainbow List when it launched in 2008, and am always eager to see what each new year brings to this essential guide for librarians, teachers, parents—and most importantly, youth themselves. I’m thrilled there are so many more books to choose from, and glad there’s a thoughtful, skilled team of librarians to help us find the best ones. Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators, and thanks to the committee members for all their work!
(Make sure to check out all of the Youth Media Award winners in other categories, too. An amazing and diverse collection!)