6 LGBTQ Books You Should Add to Your Classroom Library


June is Pride Month but many schools in the U.S. are already on vacation. Other schools are winding down the school year. Here in NY we're preparing for state exams. School librarians are doing end of the school year inventory. June might not be the best time to make a book display or book talk LGBTQ books for all of these reasons. 

ELA teachers should make sure that their classroom libraries have diverse books to meet the needs of their students. Every student should be able to find a book that they can relate to. Students are constantly being assigned books that we deem classics, independent reading should be full of choice. Here are six LGBTQ books that will make a great addition to your high school ELA classroom. We should celebrate diversity throughout the school year and not just certain months of the year.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour


This book tells the story of Marin who is a freshman in college. Marin grew up in California and the only relative she had was her grandfather who died right before she started school. She left home and went to New York for school and has shut out the world. She hasn’t talked to anyone about his death and she’s fallen into a deep depression. Her friend Mabel that she had an LGTBQ relationship with comes to visit her and she slowly opens up and talks about what happened the previous summer. The main character is not only dealing with the loss of a loved one but also, she’s questioning her sexuality. The book ends on a hopeful note that Marin can stay with Mabel’s family during school breaks. 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


This book is about a teenaged boy named Simon that is gay, but he hasn’t told anyone. He fears that his friends and family will alienate him when they find out. Simon starts emailing another guy at his school who uses the name Blue online and ends up falling in love with him over email. While Simon is trying to find out the true identity of Blue, a classmate of his Martin sees his emails on a school computer and blackmails him. Eventually, Martin reveals Simon’s secret. Despite the fact that his friends and family are accepting, Simon wanted to come out when he was ready. Simon does face some bullying at school, but his friends stand up for him and he eventually finds out who Blue is. The book is about Simon’s emotional journey and the difficulties that gay teens face today.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson


This book is told from the point-of-view of Jude and Noah who are twins living in California. Noah’s chapters are told when they are 13 and 14 years old before their mother passed away. Jude’s chapters are told when they’re 16 years old roughly two years after the death of their mother. When they were 13 Noah was bullied a lot and he was dealing with being in love with his only friend Brian. When they were 13 Jude was very popular. At age 16 the roles have reversed, and Jude has no friends and Noah is very popular. Both twins are hiding their true selves and working through a lot of issues dealing with the loss of their mother. Both their mother and their grandmother’s ghosts meddle in the lives to make things a little more complicated.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas


This book is about sixteen-year-old Bri who is dealing with poverty and racism. Bri thought that a rap career would be the answer to all of her problems. Bri pours her frustration into her rap music but her first song is misinterpreted, and she finds herself in the middle of controversy. There are several LGBTQ characters including Bri’s aunt who is one of the few adults she confides in and one of her best friends.

Odd One Out by Nic Stone


The book tells the story of Courtney and Jupiter (Jupe) who are best friends that grew up together and their new friend, Rae, that just moved into town. The book explores the dynamics of this complicated, messy love triangle. Courtney is in love with Jupe but she’s a lesbian. Rae is attracted to both Courtney and Jupe but at one-point, Jupe realizes she’s in love with Courtney as well. The book is about identity and discovering your true self. All of the characters are multicultural and there are several LGBTQ characters.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 


This book is written as a series of poems and it tells the story of Xiomara and her twin brother Xavier who are first generation in American and growing up in Harlem. They’re 15 when the book begins, and their parents are extremely religious. Xiomara expresses herself through her poetry, but she feels like she has to hide it from everyone. Her brother is gay but in the closet. Both teens feel like their parents wouldn’t understand them and both start secretly dating someone. There are a lot of parent/child conflicts in the novel because of the cultural and generational differences. 

ELA teachers should have a wide range of books in their classroom libraries to meet the needs of their students. These books would work well with either literature circles or independent reading

 

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