Today is National Coming Out Day, which got me thinking about LGBTQIA+ representation in YA and children’s literature. While there certainly can be more stories featuring realistic, nuanced representations of LGBTQIA+ characters (protagonists! friends! heroes! parents! etc!), I’m heartened by the books young readers do have today, to let them know that their feelings are valid and that they can be the main characters of their own stories.
Which means that, of course, I need to share some of my recent favorite reads featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard: a great look at sexual identity and gender identity, as Pen struggles against her family and friends’ ideas of what it means to be a young woman. I also loved the minor characters in this. #teamblake
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown: a twist on the coming out story, as very out Jo hides her sexual identity when she moves to a small, conservative town.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: bi, gay, and asexual representation in this super fun and touching historical adventure. I’m psyched for the sequel, which will follow Felicity!
George by Alex Gino: one of the sweetest and most sensitive coming out stories, about a young trans girl who just wants to be Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: one of my new favorite contemporary YAs, about theatre and friendship and first love and figuring out who you are and how to share that with the world.
As I Descended by Robin Talley: in case you want some classically-inspired scares and intrigue with your representation, this one’s a female take on Macbeth, starring two young women at an elite boarding school.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: one of my new favorites full stop, this is a fantastic look at first love and friendship and loneliness and grief and reaching out to those we love.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: a powerful and hopeful story about a young trans girl trying to make a new start for herself.
Other books you’d add to this list? Share ’em in the comments! In the meantime, remember–you are valid and you deserve love.