10 books to help you read with pride

Guest Blogger  //  Jun 1, 2018

10 books to help you read with pride

Guest post by Vaishali Nayak, associate marketing manager

Representation matters, especially in children's books. Now, more than ever, there's a groundswell of excitement and urgency for reading widely, for reading diversely, and for reading proudly. That's why this June, in honor of Pride Month, we're celebrating #ReadwithPride by highlighting books with LGBTQ+ characters.

From middle grade to young adult, it's never been easier to #ReadwithPride or #ListenwithPride (shout out to audiobook fans!). Join us as we spotlight ten incredible titles that shine a light on LGBTQ+ characters and experiences. 

Join us as we proudly celebrate PRIDE.

1. George by Alex Gino

Ages 8-12
Also available as an audiobook 

 “George by Alex Gino is that rare thing: an instant classic. Its main character, Melissa, knows who she is, even if the world sometimes gets it wrong. The pride at its center rings true and rings loud, because the heart of pride is being able to be whoever you want to be, regardless of gender or the way the world sees you.”

—David Levithan, editor of George

2. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Ages 10-14

“I’m excited to celebrate another year of Raina Telgemeier’s classic graphic novel Drama. It’s a fun exploration of middle school featuring characters who are figuring out who they are amid producing their school play. Bring on the drama—both on and off the stage!”

—Cassandra Pelham Fulton, Senior Editor, Graphix

“Now, more than ever, it’s wonderful to share a book where the experience of kids who are questioning or figuring out if they are gay, is portrayed as one part in the full spectrum of growing up."

—David Saylor, VP, Creative Director, Trade Publishing & Publisher, Graphix

3. The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue

Ages 8-12
Also available as an audiobook 

"The Lotterys Plus One is a book about a family that’s big enough and openhearted enough to embrace anyone who reads it. Two moms, two dads, seven kids and a wonderful happy mixture of races, cultures, and identities. Then a grumpy, conservative grandfather comes to stay and the balance is changed….Now is the perfect time to read this funny, open-hearted novel, to prepare for the forthcoming second adventure, The Lotterys More or Less!"

—Arthur A. Levine, VP & Publisher, Arthur A. Levine Press, and editor of The Lotterys Plus One

4. One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock

Ages 9-12 

"One True Way is a path to the heart. It’s a journey that shows us what it means to believe in being who you are — even when your world tells you to turn back on your path. Even when your family, church, friends, and parents encourage to stop in your tracks. Thankfully, Shannon Hitchcock’s honest-to-goodness story proves that being true can lead to you." 

—Andrea Davis Pinkney, Vice President, Executive Editor, and editor of One True Way

5. Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Ages 8-12
Also available as an audiobook 

"Hurricane Child is the perfect storm of a novel. The cadence of Kheryn Callender’s exquisite storytelling sweeps you into its swirl. Mysticism, island lore, and the beautiful love between two girls keep us entranced, long after the storm has passed." 

—Andrea Davis Pinkney, Vice President, Executive Editor, and editor of Hurricane Child 

6. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Ages 14 & up

"Rafe is the openly gay kid who everyone thinks has it all figured out. But he’s many other things too—a soccer player, a writer, a tofu hater—and he’s tired of having just that one part of his identity be the headline, all the time. So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school across the country, and decides to just be more private while he’s there, what results is an incredibly thoughtful and moving (and hilarious!) exploration of what it means to embrace yourself." 

—Nick Thomas, editor 

7. Vanilla by Billy Merrell

Ages 14 & up
Also available as an audiobook

“I am so proud of what Billy Merrell does in Vanilla, showing an honest relationship between two boys who are struggling to define themselves in terms of each other, in terms of love, and in terms of sex. Beyond labels, it’s about how the most important thing is to figure out who you are — and then figure out if you who are fits into the relationship you’re in. Written in indelible, powerful poems across three different voices, Vanilla is a triumph of showing how a true self emerges, in confusing and ultimately hopeful ways.”

—David Levithan, editor of Vanilla

8. A Very, Very Bad Thing by Jeffery Self

Ages 14 & up
Also available as an audiobook

“Like 'Dear Evan Hansen,' this is the story of a boy who’s caught in a lie . . . which gets worse and worse until he can’t take it anymore. In this case, the lie is one he’s told to the parents of the boy he loves — with dramatic consequences. Jeffery Self knows how gay boys’ minds work, and this story is very much about digging yourself into a hole for all the right reasons — and then having to get back out again.”

—David Levithan, editor of A Very, Very Bad Thing

9. And She Was by Jessica Verdi

Ages 14 & up

"As soon as I read the manuscript for And She WasI knew I wanted to acquire it; here was an incredibly timely and riveting YA contemporary, told in a fresh dual narrative, about Dara, a fiercely independent teenage girl who learns that her mom, Mellie, is trans, and sets off on an epic road trip to learn more about her family. I was blown away by Jessica Verdi’s gorgeous writing, the fast pace, and the raw emotional truths at the heart of the story. I feel so lucky to have edited this important novel, and I’m slightly jealous of those who will just be discovering it for the very first time."

—Aimee Friedman, Editorial Director, and editor of And She Was

"And She Was is so many things: a family-secret drama, a friends-to-more romance, and, I think especially, a mother-daughter story. Jessica Verdi handles the main character’s relationship with her transgender mother with so much care and tenderness, and ultimately this novel is for anyone who wants to know what it means to live our truest selves."

—Olivia Valcarce, Assistant Editor

10. I Felt a Funeral In My Brain by Will Walton

Ages 12 & up

“Unlike anything I’ve read – in the best possible way. This is an extraordinary feat of poetry and storytelling that cuts straight to the heart of grief, loss, and writing your way through.”

— David Levithan, editor of I Felt a Funeral In My Brain

“This unbelievable book made me cry on the regular, but it also made me feel seen. And I got some really good music recs. I love it so much.” 

—Maya Marlette, Editorial Assistant

For more, follow #ReadwithPride and #ListenwithPride on social and join in as our festivities continue with giveaways, special podcasts, exclusive new content, and more!