Whether your Mighty Girl is a member of the LGBTQ community, or an LGBTQ ally, these books will show her that her experience is not unique: millions of people stand with her.
One of the founding principles of A Mighty Girl is that girls of all ages should be able to find books that reflect who they are: their background, their interests, and their dreams. But when a girl identifies as lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning — or someone in her life does — it can be challenging to find stories that reflect her experience.
With that in mind — and in celebration of June's Pride Month — we're sharing our favorite books featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) characters. Whether your Mighty Girl is a member of the LGBTQ community, or an LGBTQ ally, these books will show her that her experience is not unique: millions of people stand with her.
To show kids the meaning and history behind the Pride month celebrations they see around them today, we recommend the books Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities for ages 10 and up and Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community for ages 14 and up.
Mighty Girl Books Featuring LGBTQ Characters
These books featuring positive portrayals of LGBTQ characters and families, and show that sexual identity and orientation are only a part of the whole of any person.
Written by the same author as the groundbreaking Heather Has Two Mommies, this book reminds the reader that a day with a toddler and caring parents is much the same for every family. Whether at play with hide-and-seek and dress-up, splashing in the bath, or getting a kiss at bedtime, these books show the deep, loving bond between a lesbian couple and their treasured child. The same author/illustrator pair has written Daddy, Papa, and Me, also for age 0 - 3, which depicts a gay couple and their toddler in the same way.
First published in 1989, Heather Has Two Mommies was the first picture book to depict a lesbian family in a positive light. Now, the groundbreaking title has been revised, reillustrated, and reissued for a new generation of readers! Heather is dismayed when her classmates don't understand why she has two mommies and no daddy — at first. But when the whole class draws their families, Heather quickly realizes that no two are the same and, as her teacher points out, "the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another."
Harriet loves costumes, so she can't wait for her special dress-up birthday party. Her dads have decorated everything but there's one thing missing: party hats. So naturally, Harriet puts on her penguin costume to run the errand — and gets carried away by a flock of real penguins. Harriet is determined to get home, and the resourceful girl quickly makes her way back... just in time for the perfect party. This funny and sweet story where same-sex parents are present, but not the focus, will delight young readers and their parents.
The confident little girl in this family knows exactly how to respond to a curious friend who doesn’t quite get how having two daddies works: with the simple truth. In playful verse, she answers her friend’s questions: Poppa builds her tree house, Daddy kisses an injured knee. And when she’s sad and needs a hug? Either — or both — can do that! Children will relate to being curious about how a family that’s different from theirs works, and the reassuring answer that every family can provide what a child needs will stick with them.
Everyone in class is excited about the big Mother's Day party... except Stella. She has two daddies, who help her with homework, tuck her in at night, and make her feel more loved than anyone else could. She also has lots of other people who love her: a large extended family who support her and encourage her in everything she does. But she doesn't have a mom to bring to the party. In the end, though, thanks to that same supportive crowd — and a little inspiration from a classmate — Stella finds the perfect solution to celebrate her very special family.
From the age of two, Jazz knows something is wrong. In her mind, she's a girl, but her body is a boy's. Her parents don't understand, until they take her to a doctor who explains what it means to be transgender. While not everyone understands how Jazz feels — and many think that she's confused, and that she really is a boy in both brain and body — Jazz knows that when she finally gets to live as a girl, for the first time everything feels right. Written by teen transgender activist Jazz Jennings, this story of her childhood experience is an excellent way to introduce younger children to what it means to be transgender.
In 1950s San Francisco, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin met and fell in love. But outside their windows, there were many things they saw that they wanted to change. For decades, these two activists would fight for women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and more, so their community could be everything they dreamed. The main narrative of this book is a look through San Francisco windows, highlighting landmarks that mattered to Lyon and Martin and the changes they saw — and fought for — over time, while back matter provides historical details about these two inspiring activists.
Marmee and Meema and their three children love each other, and they act just like any other family. So why do some of the other families where they live not want to speak to them? What’s so strange about a family that has two moms and no dad? Patricia Polacco tackles the difficult topic of discrimination against same-sex families with understanding and confidence, showing that different doesn’t mean wrong — and that love is what makes a family strong. This story is also a good choice for discussing adoption and multi-racial families with children.
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy; she knows she's a girl. George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. When her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web, George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte, but the teacher says she can't even try out for the part because she's a boy. So with the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan — not just so she can be Charlotte, but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. Alex Gino's all too rare middle-grade story of a transgirl's struggle is enhanced by the use of gender pronouns: while other characters consistently refer to George as "he", the narrator only uses female pronouns, providing further validation of George's identity as a girl.
Korra and Asami return in this official continuation of The Legend of Korra! As they leave the Spirit World, excited to explore their new feelings for one another, Korra and Asami stumble into yet another problem. A developer is planning to turn the portal into an amusement park, but that could sever the connection between the worlds -- and at the same time, the triads are having an all-out war on Republic City's borders, right on top of hundreds of evacuees. Korra and Asami can help... but only if they improve their teamwork (both personally and professionally.) Fans of the Nickelodeon TV series will be thrilled with this graphic novel series!
12-year-old middle child Ivy is used to being ignored, but when a tornado destroys her family's house, things get worse. Now, all five people in her family are crammed into a tiny hotel room... and Ivy can't find her journal, where she keeps drawings of girls holding hands. After the way her older sister reacted when her friend came out, Ivy's even more worried about her growing feelings for a female classmate, and when her drawings start showing up in her locker with notes encouraging her to speak up about her identity, Ivy will have to decide if she feels ready to show the world the real her. Sensitive and powerful, this book will speak to all young readers who are struggling to figure out where they belong.
Sixth-grader Fig struggles to understand her father, who has unmanaged bipolar disorder, but she does love him, so she's horrified when an incident at her school brings social services to her door. The intensely private girl has to lean on someone, so she asks for help from Mark, the man who's just moved in next door. But soon Mark and her dad have fallen in love, and Fig feels more alone than ever — especially since she's not sure if her own crush on a girl at the library is reciprocated. This novel, with its gripping portrayal of the dangers of an uncontrolled manic state, also captures the many shapes of love and how it can bring healing and peace.
The day before 13-year-old Melly goes off to Camp Rockaway, her parents tell her they're getting a divorce. Not only that, but her best friend, Olivia, is drifting away as she gets more interested in boys... while Melly finds herself crushing on her bandmate, Adeline. And Melly loves the drums, but she's not sure she's got what it takes to be a rock n' roll drummer. Fortunately, when her heart is full of noise, a pair of drumsticks and a good kit will help her understand and express how she feels. This light-hearted and empowering story of two weeks that change everything for one girl includes a sweet and gentle telling of a first romance.
When 12-year-old Sunny finally gets the heart transplant she needed, she has a "New Life Plan" that seems simple: do exciting, adventurous things; replace the old best friend who betrayed her with a friend she can trust; and finally kiss a boy. But when she meets Quinn Ríos Rivera and the pair become close, she starts to realize that maybe it's not a boy she wants to kiss after all. On top of that, her absent mother, Lena, wants to be part of her life again. Sunny wonders whether her feelings are her own, or whether it's possible her new heart brought the donor's emotions along with it. Gentle, funny, and heartfelt, this coming of age novel celebrates finding the courage to be yourself.
After Allie's older brother died, she and her mother left New Jersey and moved to a conservative North Carolina town. Allie hopes to make at least one friend, and she soon does: Sam, who is friendly and fun. And then, their friendship starts developing into more. But in the 1970s, Allie worries that admitting she likes girls will cause "the kind of pain that Eric’s death [did]" — and Sam's parents' aren't any more likely to be accepting. Fortunately, they have some adult role models who urge them to be true to themselves — and give them hope that, some day, their love will be accepted. This emotionally honest middle grade novel also provides an opportunity to discuss the history of gay rights in America.
Abby Wambach has always pushed the boundaries, achieving great feats — like the record for the most international goals scored in the history of soccer by either a man or a woman — and capturing the heart of a country as she helped lead the 2015 Women's National Team to victory in the FIFA Women's World Cup. But behind the professional successes were many struggles that fans didn't see, including a fight against addiction and fear about coming out as a lesbian. These struggles, though, have driven her to achieve as a professional athlete and as an advocate for equality and women's rights. This young readers edition of Wambach's book Forward: A Memoir is sure to delight young soccer fans.
Callie is dealing with all the usual challenges of a middle school girl: a first relationship that breaks her heart, figuring out how she belongs when she’s not one of the cool kids, and learning who she really is. But around her, friends are tackling their own dramas too, including Justin and Jesse, two brothers dealing with their emerging understanding of their sexuality. The two brothers provide interesting contrast — Justin is comfortable with declaring himself gay, and is accepted by those around him, while Jesse is still questioning what his sexual identity actually is — and Callie’s support of both brothers is a powerful message for allies of the LGBTQ community.
When adventurous 12-year-old Bett Devlin peeks at her single father's emails, she's horrified to discover that her father is in love — and that he and his new boyfriend are planning to send their daughters to sleepaway camp together, so they can "accidentally" meet one another. Avery Bloom is Bett's opposite, bookish and fearful, and the girls agree they'll NEVER become friends. Except while they're at camp, friendship blossoms anyway, and when it appears that their dads are going to part ways, the two girls are determined to find a way to be sisters after all. Told entirely in letters and emails, and written by two bestselling authors, this laugh-out-loud novel celebrates the many ways that people can become family.
One good friend can sometimes give you the courage to be yourself. Timothy McGrother is actually Lily, and she feels trapped in a body that looks like a boy; Norbert Dorfman is new in town, struggling to maintain a normal life even though he's gone off his medication for bipolar disorder in order to play on the middle school basketball team. When the two of them meet, for the first time, each has someone who is ready to take them just as they are. Alternating first-person chapters tell the story of how Norbert becomes Dunkin and Timothy becomes Lily, thanks to the support of a new friend.
Princess Amira and Princess Sadie couldn't be more different: Amira is heroic, with her dark hair in a mohawk and her sword in her hand, while Sadie is blonde-haired and kind-hearted, everything a "traditional" princess should be. But when Amira rescues Sadie from a tower, they become fast friends, and they soon decide to cooperate on a big problem: a jealous sorceress who wants to get rid of Sadie for good. On their adventures, though, they realize that they are actually far more than friends. It's time for these princesses to figure out what "happily ever after" means — and if, in their case, it means falling for one another. Entertaining and full of adventure, this graphic novel's emphasis on the power of true love will delight young readers.
13-year-old Brie dreams of being an actor — a career path she figures starts with a star appearance at her small Catholic school's play. She's also wrestling with her attraction to girls, and how that does or doesn't connect to her questions about her faith. When her mother discovers something that may reveal her queer feelings, Brie distracts her by claiming she's been chosen for a special role in her school's May Crowning, an honor generally reserved for top students. Now, in an attempt to make her claim come true, Brie has to attempt to copy the seemingly perfect Kennedy... even as she develops a crush on her! Melleby, the acclaimed author of Hurricane Season, has created a poignant and real story of a girl daring to reveal her authentic self and balancing her identity with her family and her faith.
Kate is a popular cheerleader; when Tam first sees her, she sees a stereotype in a perfect ponytail. Tam is an athlete who's often mistaken for a boy; when Kate meets her, she sees a girl "tall as a palm tree." But the connection they feel is undeniable, and in this novel in verse, the two girls slowly recognize that they're falling in love. It seems so simple, but Kate's status conscious family and friends sneer at Tam, while Tam fears that her family will reject her for being gay. As three bystanders look on, the girls find their way to each other — and to feeling comfortable in their own skin. This affirming novel in verse is a universal story that offers hope to anyone struggling to fit in.
Staggerlee is already wrestling with racial identity — as the daughter of an interracial couple in an all-black town, it’s been hard for her to make friends. But her confusion is made deeper by a secret she’s kept for years: in sixth grade, she’d kissed another girl. Without language to talk about her feelings, however, Staggerlee just feels isolated and lost. When her cousin Trout comes to visit the summer they’re both fourteen, however, Staggerlee is astonished to realize that other girls might feel the way that she does. As the two girls struggle together to decipher their feelings, Staggerlee begins to appreciate the truth about her identity: “I’m me. That’s all.” A complex and emotionally nuanced look at an adolescent’s search for self, this book address sexuality, but also places it in a larger context, both within a single person and in broader communities.
It's 1926, and Garnet has been sent away from the city to escape the polio epidemic raging there. She expects a quiet summer, indulging her love for ornithology, before she returns to finish high school, marry, and settle in to a life as wife and homemaker. But when she meets Isabella, a daring flapper, Garnet is shocked to find herself drawn to the unconventional young dancer. Can Garnet give up the dream of a university degree — and a life with someone like Isabella — to fulfill her mother's expectations? Set against an elegantly realized historical backdrop, the relationship between Garnet and Isabella is beautiful and tender, but bittersweet, as the reader rapidly realizes the obstacles Garnet faces to living and loving authentically.
Raven the pirate from Princeless Book 3: Pirate Princess gets her own series! Her brothers have taken the pirate legacy to which she should be the rightful heir, so now Raven is determined to win it back... but to do so, she's going to need the toughest crew around. Her all-girl sailors may not be a typical pirate crew, but you don't want to mess with them! And when her crew ends up including Sunshine, a half-elf thief with whom Raven has an electric connection, and Ximena, a former more-than-a-friend, a little romance may start to come into play, too. With plenty of action and adventure and a daring LGBTQ character as its lead, this graphic novel series gets off to a thrilling start. Fans of Raven should check out the rest of the Raven the Pirate Princess series.
Nancy Garden’s groundbreaking 1982 book tells the story of two girls whose friendship develops into love — love they have to conceal. When Liza is asked to house sit for two teachers from her school, it seems like the perfect opportunity to spend time alone with Annie — until a school administrator discovers them. Suddenly, Liza is threatened with expulsion, the two teachers — revealed to be a lesbian couple — are fired, and Liza, confused and guilty over all the turmoil, ends her relationship with Annie and leaves for college on the opposite coast. But being without Annie makes Liza realize just how important it is to be true to herself, and the book ends with the two of them agreeing to meet again. One of the first lesbian love stories with a happy ending, this book is all the more remarkable for its age.
It's 1959, and two girls are coming face first up against deeply held prejudices of their age. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students at Jefferson High School; despite being an honor student at her last school, she's put in remedial classes and harassed daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the main opponents to the idea of integrating the school. But when they're forced to work on a project together, they not only have to come to terms with the dynamics of race, prejudice, and power... but also with their growing romantic feelings for one another. But if it would shake the school to think of them as friends, how can they possibly consider being more? This compelling novel tackles what happens when two deep prejudices must be faced at the same time.
Unlike many transgender kids, Jazz Jennings transitioned to female at the age of five — and even more unusually, she and her parents started sharing her story with the world. At a time when the public was almost always ignorant — and rarely accepting — of the transgender community, Jazz became a critical voice and a role model to kids everywhere. But today, she's facing a whole new challenge: her teen years. In this fascinating memoir, Jazz reflects on her very visible life as an advocate for transgender kids and teens, the support she's received from her family, and the additional challenges that come with navigating the physical, emotional, and social upheavals of adolescence when you were born in the wrong body. Intriguing, honest, and inspiring, both cis- and transgender teens will find this book illuminating.
Demigod Astra can control the future with her blood, a dangerous power that she keeps secret; instead, she spends quiet days with Ina, the girl she loves. But when a threat to the village goes unchecked by the king, Ina begs Asra to help her find her manifest, the animal she will be able to change into as an adult. In secret, Asra attempts a spell — and it goes horribly wrong. Now, Ina has sworn vengeance on the king and chosen a dragon as her manifest, and Asra has to stop her, even at the cost of learning the terrible truth of her own power. Set in the same world as Of Fire and Stars, this fast-paced romantic fantasy asks which deeds are too dark to do, even for the one you love.
Georgina's family has a history of magic, but even though she's almost 18, she doesn't show any sign of developing a gift. She has no time to think about that, now, though: the tourists have arrived on her island of By-the-Sea to view a 300-year-old bird, Annabella's Woodpecker... a bird that's just been found dead. Georgina swears she'll find the killer, and soon gets help from a visitor named Prue — and their relationship blossoms into love. Georgina and Prue's romance is just a love story, not a problem in the novel, which is all too rare in young adult books with LGBTQ characters. Full of wonder and magical realism, this book is sure to draw teen readers into Georgina's beautiful world.
Cameron Post is both guilty and relieved when her parents die in a car accident: she’s relieved she doesn’t have to reveal her dawning awareness of her homosexuality to them, but can’t help but feel that her forbidden desires might have caused the accident. Now living with her highly conservative aunt, Cameron conceals her true feelings — until she and another girl from the same fundamentalist church fall in love. When their relationship is discovered, Cameron’s aunt sends her to a religious camp that claims to “cure” gay people...but Cameron discovers that, although her aunt is acting on a genuine desire to do what she thinks is right, love can't be "cured". In this heartfelt story, Emily M. Danforth avoids demonizing religious belief, instead showing how notions of “curing” or “correcting” sexual orientation are flawed and, ultimately, futile.
Emily knows that she is not okay, and that she needs help to feel like herself. The problem is that Emily lives inside Christopher and was born a boy. And while Emily has kept herself hidden until now, she knows she can’t deny who she is any longer. This year in the life of a transgender male-to-female (MTF) transition tackles the difficult reactions that this misunderstood experience generates: a therapist who insists that Christopher is real and Emily is sick, a religious friend who can’t believe that God could make that kind of mistake. But when Emily meets others who do understand her — including a fellow MTF girl named Natalie — she realizes that being Emily is exactly who she is meant to be.
At thirteen, Jude and her twin brother Noah are as close as can be; at sixteen, they're barely speaking. Something happened in those years — something that broke each of them as individuals, and shattered the relationship between the two of them. In this story, which is told in alternating perspectives, Noah's discovery of his sexuality and tentative search for a person who loves him is a beautiful gay love story — and also becomes part of the framework that will bring him and Jude back together. This award-winning story captures the challenges and triumphs of a sibling finding their confidence in their sexual identity.
Senior year is proving to be a struggle for Leah. She's a talented drummer and confident in herself, but too self-conscious to show off her drawings, and afraid to admit she's bisexual, despite her friend Simon being openly gay. And as the only child of a single mom, she doesn't have the privileges that many others do. With prom — and then college — approaching fast, her friend group is starting to fracture. And on top of it all, she's starting to have serious feelings for one of her friends... feelings she doesn't think will ever be reciprocated. One way or another, by the end of the year, life will never be the same. This sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda tells a story of big changes in Leah's vibrant, likeable voice.
When 18-year-old Dara's tennis coach encourages her to start competing in tournaments, her mother, Mellie, is strangely reluctantly to help her get a passport. So Dara goes looking for her birth certificate and is shocked to discover that the name under "father" is Mellie: she is a trans woman and transitioned after Dara was born. Seeking answers, Dara sets off on a road trip with her best friend, and between her travels and the emails Mellie sends her, she'll slowly learn important truths about identity, love, and her family history. This compassionate novel, full of humanity and hope, celebrates the power of being your true self.
Anthropology student Nicola has been accepted into a summer program for gifted teens, so she knows she’ll meet interesting people — like Battle, a blonde dancer who, unexpectedly, becomes a more than just a friend. But Nic has never thought of herself as a lesbian; she’s always thought she was attracted to boys. As Nic deals with typical teenage relationship drama, she also has to wrestle with her own identity: is she lesbian? Bisexual? And in the end, does what she labels herself have anything to do with what she feels? Told in the format of a series of “field notes” by Nic, this novel captures the wide variety of needs behind relationships — desire, emotional closeness, and even some that can’t be unraveled. Sometimes, it seems to Nic, relationships are just as much about what you discover about yourself.
Mads loves going to church and baseball games with her Catholic dad, and hanging out with her best friend, Cat — even when she isn't always a good friend. Then she discovers that her runaway grandmother was an early transgender activist, and it throws everything she thinks she knows into uncertainty... including her own sexuality, and how she really feels about Cat. In the process, her relationships with both friends and family get turned upside down.... but maybe she needs that to find her way forward. This funny and complex graphic novel is a powerful story of discovering identity and hope.
Discovering your sexuality or gender identity is already a challenge — but what if you realize you are neither male nor female? Kristin Lattimer is a track and field champion with a full scholarship to university and a boyfriend she adores. But when they decide to have sex for the first time, it's obvious something is wrong, and a doctor's appointment results in shocking news: Kristin is intersex. She looks like a girl, but has male chromosomes — and even partial male genitalia. The news is bad enough, but when Kristin's diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, can she come to terms with her new identity? A rare young adult novel about the experiences of an intersex teen, this novel also includes resources about what it means to be intersex.
17-year-old Emma Nolan has been out as a lesbian since ninth grade — and in her small town, that's meant bullying at school and being disowned by her parents. She's still planning to go to prom, and she wants to take her girlfriend... but Alyssa is hiding her sexuality from her PTA president mom. When rumors get out that Emma is planning to invite a girl, the school ends up in an uproar — and Alyssa's mother leads the PTA in threatening to cancel the event. And when two failing Broadway stars see Emma's YouTube video and arrive to take up her cause (and maybe get a little publicity) things get even more complicated.... Based on the hit Broadway musical, this hopeful novel is a reminder that it's worth fighting for what — and who — you love.
Ramona is supremely confident of three things: she's destined for bigger things than her trailer park home, she likes girls, and her family will always come first. But increasingly, she finds she's the only adult in her family, and now with her younger sister pregnant, she feels stuck. Then her childhood friend Freddie talks her into joining him for laps at the pool... and Ramona finds her feelings for Freddie evolving into something unexpected. It turns out that life, love, and relationships are a lot more fluid that Ramona ever expected. Full of heart and humanity, this book about self-discovery is sure to be a favorite with teens.
A new school and an ultra-conservative congressman father running for re-election are stressful enough, but Riley has a secret: Riley is genderfluid, identifying as a boy some days and a girl others. The strain of playing a role for the community and media is building, so on a therapist's recommendation, Riley starts an anonymous blog about what it's like to be a genderfluid teen. But just as Riley gets settled at school, the blog goes viral — and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley's identity and threatens to expose it to the world. Riley faces a choice: walk away from support, understanding, and a newfound cause, or come out — and risk everything. Jeff Garvin shines in his debut novel, has created an uplifting story with a fascinating protagonist, one who faces prejudice, keeps a sense of humor, and gets the girl. This unique novel will provide teens on the gender binary with a thoughtful look at genderfluidity, and genderfluid teens with an all-too-rare role model in fiction.
Regan and Liam are a sister and brother who love one another fiercely — all the more so because at night, Liam becomes Luna, thanks to Regan’s help. She is fiercely protective of this brother/sister of hers: she can’t help but worry about what her parents will say if they find out, or what Luna might do if concealing herself as Liam all day becomes too painful to tolerate. But Regan is so busy worrying about Luna that she’s not allowing herself to live her own life, which becomes obvious to Luna when Regan becomes interested in a new boy in her chemistry class. Despite both their fears, Luna realizes that it’s time to become the woman she is, both for herself, and for Regan. A terrific depiction of both a loving and protective transgender ally, and a confident transgender woman’s entrance into the world.
This reworking of the Cinderella fairy tale tells the story of Ash, grieving for her dead father and cruelly treated by her stepmother. She escapes by reading the book of fairy tales her mother used to tell her, dreaming of being taken away by the fairies; when she meets Sidhean, a particularly dark Fae, she believes her wish will be granted and she will finally be at peace. But when Ash meets Kaisa, the royal Huntress, everything changes: as her relationship with her newfound companion begins to deepen, she begins to see how she could be happy again — only now Sidhean wants to claim her, and she has to decide between her mother’s stories and an unexpected true love.
Astrid has no one in her life to confide in, so she settles for the only thing she has: imaginary passengers in the planes that fly above her backyard. As she pictures the people traveling within them, she asks them all the difficult questions she can't voice out loud — including why she is falling in love with a girl. As the relationship grows stronger and friends and neighbors start asking their own questions about Astrid, she spends more and more time sending her love to the passengers on the planes, "Because if I give it all away, no one can control it." But maybe the passengers, who don't even know their lives were touched by Astrid, can also send their love back. This touching story of a girl wrestling with understanding herself, even as others in her life push her to define herself before she's ready, is a thoughtful and touching exploration of the boxes people place themselves — and one another — in.
Just out of high school, Emi Price is a talented young set designer already beginning to thrive in the L.A. film scene. When she finds a mysterious letter at an estate sale, it sends her chasing down the loose ends of a movie icon's hidden life — and along the way, she meets Ava, a homeless teen and the long-lost granddaughter of a movie cowboy. As the pair hunt for clues together and draw closer and closer, Emi learns more about Hollywood history, her own privilege, and the truth of her feelings for Ava. This story of summer love not only captures universal themes of love and loss, but also addresses the difference between movie romance and what happens in real life: while "perfect" pretend relationships may always work out, reality is simultaneously messier and more satisfying.
Maggie Thrash has always loved her summers at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, and she's secretly always hoped she'd be named Honor Girl, the girl who most exemplifies the camp's spirit. But the summer she is fifteen, things are different. A chance contact between Maggie and Erin, one of the counselors, sets off unexpected feelings for Maggie — and Camp Bellflower is not the place for a girl to fall in love with another girl. On top of that, her proficiency at the rifle range is setting her at odds with one of the other campers. Maggie will learn a lot about her self at camp this summer... including the power of creating your own identity. This graphic memoir is both funny and powerful, beautifully depicting the author's experiences.
Princess Dennaleia has always known her future: she will marry the prince of Mynaria and seal the alliance between two kingdoms. Now, she must hide her Affinity for fire — a dangerous gift at the best of times, but especially when Mynaria forbids magic — while also learning the ways of her new kingdom...including how to ride Mynaria's intimidating warhorse from the even more intimidating Princess Amaranthine, her betrothed's sister. But as political plots swirl around them, Denna and Mare discover more than just the culprit behind the conflict: they also discover intense feelings for one another. Will they have to choose between their duty to their kingdoms and their love? As a fantasy love story that happens to be about a same-sex couple, this book normalizes Denna and Mare's love rather than focusing specifically on LGBTQ issues, reminding readers that love between two people of the same sex is just love.
Billie, the daughter of a preacher and an artist, has always enjoyed bucking convention and refusing to be trapped in a box of who she "should" be. She and five friends — four boys and one girl — are nicknamed The Hexagon, and they're as close as they could be. But then Janie Lee admits to Billie that she's falling in love with Woods, and Billie has to admit that she feels the same...about both Woods and Janie Lee. If any of the Hexagon give up being "just friends," everything will change, but Billie isn't sure she can keep these conflicting feelings a secret — or that she wants to. This spirited and fun exploration of teens discovering themselves celebrates the power of breaking social molds to be true to yourself.
Amanda is the new girl in school, and she just wants to blend in — make a few friends, go to class, and most importantly, keep her biggest secret close by keeping people at a distance. But when she meets Grant, she can't resist letting him get closer, and as she lets him in, she starts to realize what she stands to lose if she holds herself apart. But her big secret is that, at her old school, she was Andrew, not Amanda. If she lets Grant know, can he look past it — or will the prejudice and hatred she encountered before rear its head in her new home and school, too? Written by Meredith Russo, a transwoman, this novel addresses both general teen issues and issues specific to trans teens with a deft and honest touch. An author's note at the end to both cis- and transgender readers reminds them that this is just one story of life as a transgender teen, and provides resources for trans teens in crisis.
16-year-old Pen is struggling with the expectations that seem to be heaped on her at every turn. Everyone seems to think the way she dresses and acts means she wants to be a boy, while her parents say that she should dress "like a girl" to show them respect. But "manning up" is difficult when Pen isn't ready to define her gender identity, especially since defining herself somewhere in the LGBTQ community seems to come with its own set of rules. At the same time, she's dealing with a best friend who's behavior is more bullying than friendly and a crush who might actually reciprocate her feelings. Maybe "manning up" for Pen will mean finding the courage to be herself. This gritty and emotionally powerful story will speak to many teens who find that their lives are complicated by the weight of others' expectations of them.
Guidance for LGBTQ Girls
If your Mighty Girl is lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning — or she knows someone who is — these books provide guidance, support, and encouragement as she navigates her way to a confident sense of self.
Teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning need guidance too — but all too often, resources leave them out. This guide aims to change that! Now in its third edition, this frank but sensitive guide covers a wide array of topics including coming out, confronting prejudice, and thriving in school and beyond. Equally importantly, it discusses making healthy choices, knowing your rights, and understanding what signs point to an abusive relationship — including abuse of consent. This is an indispensable resource for both young LGBTQ people and their allies.
Savage and Miller were prompted to start the It Gets Better project after multiple suicides by LGBTQ teens who were bullied in school. Their original It Gets Better video — and the thousands of supporting videos posted from around the world — communicate a firm message to LGBTQ teens: you are not alone, and you can get through this. This book contains essays from celebrities, everyday people, and other teens, all of whom posted encouraging, inspiring videos as part of the project. The vast variety of experiences in this book will remind any teen struggling with bullying as a result of their orientation that there are more allies in the world than there are enemies — and that, after the struggle, things do get better.
Being a teen is difficult enough at the best of times, but being LGBTQ adds a new layer of complication — how do you navigate romantic relationships if you’re not even sure that your crush shares the same orientation? And deciding when and how to come out — and worrying whether your friends will accept you — is yet another stressor at a time that life is at its most stressful. Full of tips, suggestions, and sidebars on LGBTQ history, this honestly but humorously written guide is an excellent resource for any teen, whether they identify as LGBTQ or just know someone who does.
Gender is far more fluid than we think: people may perceive themselves as male, female, both, neither, something in between, or something altogether different. And for teens and young adults who are finding their identity, it can be hard to figure out how they feel! This fun, engaging workbook is designed specifically for teens who want to explore the concept of gender, gender identity, and gender expression. Whether a teen already identifies as transgender or gender non-conforming, is questioning their gender, or simply wants to explore all aspects of how we view gender, this book provides intriguing and helpful information.
A teen contemplating a transgender transition may wonder what the experience is like. In Rethinking Normal, Katie tells the story of a trapped childhood, feeling so uncomfortable as "Luke," her boy's body, that she attempted suicide for the first time at the age of 8. After realizing that "Katie" was determined to live, she transitioned — and then had the experience of going to college in a place where no one would know she had ever been anyone other than Katie. This unique memoir explores ideas about identity and the critical question: who gets to set the parameters of what is "normal"?
This unique look at the lives of transgender, intersex, and gender-neutral teens is seen through both the words of Kuklin's pen, and the eye of her camera. Kuklin follows six teens and explores their lives, challenges, and joys before, during, and after their personal expression of gender preference. Kuklin's portraits and candid shots perfectly accent the words of each teen, who tell their stories with astonishing forthrightness. This remarkable book puts real life faces on issues that many have only encountered in concept and offers hope and encouragement to teens facing these situations themselves.
Parenting an LGBTQ Child
Parents often aren’t sure how to respond to their child’s orientation — it can be hard enough to see your child becoming a sexual being, let alone realizing that their orientation may be different than your own. Parents may wrestle with their own feelings when their child comes out, or worry about how to make sure their child receives the support she needs if she faces discrimination, bullying, or even violence. These books for parents will help guide you in being your child’s best ally.
When a child first comes out, parents may have a lot of questions. Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo drew on thousands of questions from their website Everyone Is Gay when writing this accessible guide to parents. Topics include understanding your first reactions to your child's orientation — which may not be positive; reconciling the attitudes of your faith with your child's coming out; and supporting kids and teens who are being bullied or harassed. Individual sections address concerns like coming out at school or to other family members, day-to-day business like teaching safer sex and handling sleepovers, and understanding gender identity. It's an excellent resource to start parents on their journey to support their LGBTQ children.
Anne Dohrenwend knows that a child’s coming out can completely change their relationship with her parents, whether for better or worse. Coming Around helps parents understand how to maintain a relationship by guiding them through what to say (or not to say), how to deal with bigotry and prejudice, and what they should know about legal issues surrounding LGBTQ individuals. The most important message of her book is also the simplest: the best thing a parent can do is let their child know that they are loved, no matter what.
Gender identity isn’t necessarily as simple as “boy” or “girl”, or even as “girl in boy’s body” or “boy in girl’s body.” There are children all over the world who don’t fit in either conception of gender, and gender-nonconforming children have real challenges that they face every day. Diane Ehrensaft counters the idea that the best course of action is to encourage or force a child to conform to a societal gender mold, instead encouraging parents to support their children in developing their own identity and interests, whether they are, in fact, transgender, or instead are, in her words, “gender creative”.
The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside of Gender Boxes
The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside of Gender Boxes
Diane Ehrensaft's follow-up to Gender Born, Gender Made guides parents and professionals through the rapidly changing cultural, medical, and legal landscape of gender and identity. Dr. Ehrensaft explains the interconnected effects of biology, nurture, and culture to explore why gender can be fluid, rather than binary. As an advocate for the gender affirmative model and with the expertise she has gained over three decades of pioneering work with children and families, she encourages caregivers to listen to each child, learn their particular needs, and support their quest for a true gender self. Parents and educators who want to support a gender-expansive world will find this new release intriguing, informative, and positive.
While gay, lesbian, and bisexual children often don’t fully understand their feelings until puberty, transgender children can face challenges almost as early as they can speak — and being transgender is not something that many people understand well. So what do you do when a child as young as two or three declares that she can’t possibly be a girl, or he hates being a boy? Addressing ages from birth through college, and tackling developmental concerns (like whether to use hormone blockers to prevent pubertal development), emotional challenges, and legal issues, this book can guide you through the complete experience of your transgender child. A follow-up title, The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens, provides particular advice specific to the teenage years, including a discussion of the different ways that young people today see gender.
The twin boys that Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted could not have been more different: Jonas loved trucks, sports, and other “boyish” pursuits, while Wyatt sought out princess dolls and dress-up clothes. By the time the twins were toddlers, Wyatt was insisting he was a girl. In the process of coming to understand Nicole, their daughter, the Maines faced conflict both within and outside the family. It meant rewriting the script at home and the rules at school and in a community that was suddenly forced to confront its prejudices. For parents who are joining a transgender child on their own journey, this heartfelt memoir provides a realistic but positive view of how families, communities, and our whole culture are transforming to be more inclusive.
Raising An Ally: Inclusive Books About Family and Sexuality
Parents who want to raise children as LGBTQ allies often look for books that incorporate LGBTQ people into a general discussion of sexuality, family, and love. By including LGBTQ characters — without the story treating them as anything unusual — these books normalize LGBTQ issues and provide inclusive definitions of love, both romantic and family.
What makes a family? Does it have to be big, or small? Can there be stepchildren, or adopted children? Can there be one parent, or does there have to be two — and if there are two parents, do they have to be a man and a woman? With his unique, vibrant illustrations and warm, inclusive tone, Parr shows that it doesn’t matter who makes up any given family. Instead, what matters is that they all do the things families do: they celebrate special days together, they help each other be strong, and they love each other.
Some parents may be looking for a conception, pregnancy, and birth story that more accurately reflects their personal experience or which allows a free discussion of where babies come from without an assumption of gender or orientation. Cory Silverberg, a Canadian sexuality educator, created What Makes A Baby in a way that allows freedom to discuss a wide variety of situations, from fertility treatments to surrogacy and adoption, and even both vaginal and Caesarian section births. The language and images are deliberately genderless, allowing parent to discuss cis- and transgender, as well as other dimensions of LGBTQ parenting.
This is the second title in a series of books, Let’s Talk About You and Me, which address the many questions preschoolers have about the people in the world around them. Nellie and Gus, the brother and sister narrators, talk all about the many kinds of families they see on their trip to the zoo — single-parent families, same-sex couples, families of every kind. The illustrations reinforce the message by depicting a diverse, inclusive community. In the end, Nellie and Gus learn that the most important thing about family is the love they have for one another, and their delight at learning about the ways different families live is sure to be infectious.
This popular book, renowned by sexuality educators for as long as it's been in print, provides a detailed, accurate, and inclusive overview of sex, conception, pregnancy, and sexuality. Author Robie Harris provides age-appropriate information and detail about these topics: in It's NOT The Stork she begins with a simple discussion of attraction to the same sex, but follow up volumes for older children (It's So Amazing for age 6 to 9 and It's Perfectly Normal for age 10 and up) provide more detailed discussions of heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, including information about cultural attitudes. Using these books allows parents to incorporate accurate and unbiased information about LGBTQ people into their very first "where do babies come from?" conversations.
S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College
S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College
This excellent sexuality book provides many valuable pieces of information for teens about to strike out on their own. Unlike many books about sexuality, Corrina's writing does not assume heterosexuality as a default and LGBTQ as the exception; instead, her discussion goes far beyond a gender binary, and also addresses some poorly-understood topics and explaining the difference between transsexual people and cross-dressers, in a sensitive and clear way. By providing the rest of her information — about body image, sexual readiness, and contraception / STI protection — in an inclusive framework, this book is perfect for readers of all sexual identities.
Blogger and YouTube star Ashley Mardell provides an in-depth, accessible look at gender identity and sexual identity in this great guide for teens, as well as any educator, parent, or other adult who wants to build a better understanding of LGBTQIA issues. As Mardell illustrates, gender does not need to be binary or fixed, and there are far more sexual identities than being gay, straight, or bi. With in-depth definitions, helpful infographics, personal anecdotes, and more, Mardell helps questioning teens, curious allies, and anyone who wants to further understanding and acceptance of all people.
From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children - From Infancy to Middle School
From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children - From Infancy to Middle School
For parents who would like a bit more guidance for discussing LGBTQ issues with their children, Debra Haffner's excellent book discusses how to talk about these sensitive issues — and many more — while providing accurate and age-appropriate information. Haffner provides suggestions for discussing all aspects of sexuality, including LGBTQ issues, by working them into "teachable moments" rather than a single, larger discussion. Her sample discussions and emphasis on providing accurate information will help you figure out how to respond to any question, from "If she has two mommies, how did they have a baby?" to "How do I know whether or not I'm gay?" Parents of teens can check out her follow-up volume, Beyond the Big Talk: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Teens - From Middle School to High School and Beyond.
With the struggle for LGBTQ rights and acceptance so prominent right now, it has never been more important to present our kids with books that show LGBTQ characters, not just as representatives of a community, but as people with their own lives, struggles, and triumphs. By introducing your Mighty Girl — whether she is LGBTQ or not — these books, you’re doing more than encouraging her to accept the LGBTQ community: you’re working towards a day when acceptance will just be understood, and every person can feel free to express their identity with pride.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For books that celebrate the understanding of differences, including sexual orientation, visit our Tolerance section in the Values category.
- For books that talk about discrimination against LGBTQ people, visit our Sexual Orientation Discrimination section in our Social Issues category.
- Since LGBTQ children and teens are often the focus of bullying, talking about LGBTQ issues can also provide an opening to discuss anti-bullying efforts. For more books dealing with this topic, visit our special feature, the Top Books on Bullying Prevention for Mighty Girls.