2016 LGBTQ+ YA Reading List

“The first gay person I ever met was a character in a book.

…the silencing of LGBTQI literature doesn’t affect only gay or questioning kids who are looking for stories to help them untangle their identities. These books are equally important for straight and cis-gendered teens because stories are our greatest tool to create empathy and combat intolerance.

Most insidiously, these challenges can affect all aspects of the literary world, from self-censoring librarians, to agents and editors who have asked authors to "degay” their characters. When authors shy away from controversial subjects, the world loses, which is why We Need Diverse Books is dedicated to expanding the voices of non-majority narratives.

Like many others, I write for children to reach young minds that haven’t yet been closed off by adult prejudices. But I go into my debut year with the full knowledge that my book (None of the Above, Balzer+Bray 4/28/15), pitched as a YA Middlesex, may be banned for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost because it features an intersex main character. Intersex — formerly known as hermaphroditism — is a taboo subject even to many adults, and I’ve had more than one grown-up ask me, “Will teens really be interested in that?”

I think that they will, and that they are far more open-minded than we adults think. Kids today have grown up watching Modern Family and Glee, and have seen the first transgender woman nominated for an Emmy Award on the cover of TIME. They are our best hope for a future beyond the gender binary where people realize that true love doesn’t care what your chromosomes are.

And perhaps in the future, they’ll be able to say: The first intersex person I ever met was a character in a book"

—  Why We Need Diverse LGBT Books from Pen.org’s #BannedBooksWeek series. Cover reveal for None of the Above 10/9 from The Book Smugglers!

Here’s our AMAZING Indiegogo campaign video featuring Matt de la Pena, John Green (fishingboatproceeds) , Marie Lu (marielubooks), Cindy Pon (diversityinya), Grace Lin, Lamar Giles, Tim Federle (timfederle), Jacqueline Woodson & Arthur Levine!

For more on our campaign: http://igg.me/at/diversebooks


Unknown adult woman off camera: What’s your name?

Boy #1: Parker Lee.

Girl #1: I’m Charlotte Spencer.

Girl #2: I’m Abbie.

Boy #2: Pham.
Girl #3: Savannah.

Charlotte Spencer: I want to be a graphic designer when I grow up.

Pham: A children’s physician.

Abbie: I want to be a ballerina fashion designer.

Savannah: An artist.

Parker Lee: Happy.

Matt de la Peña: Hi, I’m Matt de la Peña and we need diverse books. I feel like I’m a living embodiment of why we need diverse books. Growing up I wasn’t a great student. I was what people call a reluctant reader. I felt like literature was a club that I didn’t belong to. Like anybody else who wasn’t good at one thing, I found other things to get involved with - for me it was sports.

I was pretty good at basketball in particular and because of basketball I became the first de la Peña to go to college. Once I was at my university, I was introduced to one specific book that changed everything for me - it’s called THE COLOR PURPLE, and it was the first time I had ever had an emotional reaction to a book; it almost moved me to tears. And from that point on I went in search of that feeling elsewhere, and I realized that books became my secret place to feel. From African American female authors I found Hispanic authors, and from that point on I felt like all I wanted to do was be a part of the world of literature. It doesn’t matter if you’re African American, Asian, disabled, part of the LGBTQ community - we all need to see ourselves in books. Because if we don’t see ourselves in books, we may not feel as connected to the human experience - the story of all of us. At the same time, books are more than mirrors, they’re also windows. I’ve always believed that reading is the ultimate form of empathy. Yes, we’d love to find ourselves in books, and read about ourselves and our own experiences, but it’s also important to read about people who aren’t like us. It’s only then that we’ll have a full understanding of the world around us.

John Green: Hi my name’s John Green and we need diverse books. I think we need diverse books because we need to reflect the reality of our communities and that reality is a very diverse one. One of the magical things about reading to me is that it helps me to imagine the life outside of myself.

Grace Lin: These books give all readers a glimpse into a culture that they may not be familiar with.

Marie Lu: I was a huge reader when I was a kid, but I didn’t see a lot of myself in the books that I was reading.

Lamar Giles: I remember in my later teens running across a book called BLOOD BROTHERS by Steven Barnes. That was pretty much the time when I saw something that really made me feel like I was seeing a piece of myself in the work.

Tim Federle: I’m trying to think when I was a kid, what the most sort of diverse book was that I read and I’m having a hard time thinking of it, which is, I think in a way, what underscores the entire campaign.

Jacqueline Woodson: I didn’t know women, black women, could write books, and I didn’t know why I didn’t know this.

Cindy Pon: I don’t want my children to grow up like me - not having read anybody that, you know, looks like them.

Arthur Levine: When you read, you’re reading to discover the essential truths in life.

Marie Lu: Everybody should be able to go to a bookstore, or a library, and look at the shelves and be able to see themselves looking back.

Matt de la Peña: So now you know why our diverse books campaign is so important. If we can reach our campaign goal, this will just be the beginning of us putting diverse books into the hands of young readers. Giving children diverse books and getting them into reading in general will open up so many doors for them. And I know, because that’s what diverse books did for me.

Join us. Donate and share this message, so the story of all of us, becomes everyone’s story.



The IndieGoGo campaign is LIVE YOU GUYS

Please go check out the wonderful, wonderful perks, watch this beautiful video, and spread the word. We all did this. Let’s take it further and make sure all these initiatives happen.


Attention Tuckies - There are now #TuckBoys trading cards! Starting tonight Michael Wartella, Bob Lenzi and I are giving away @tuckmusical trading cards at the stage door. There are only 200 of each character and everyone is autographed so these are gonna go FAST! Character bios by our amazing co-book writer, Tim Federle! If you want one, you have to tell us at the stage door whether you are #TeamJesse, #TeamMiles or #TeamHugo (📸 cred Matthew Schmidt Photography)


Jeremy Jordan singing “The Wheel”– a cut song from the upcoming Broadway musical ‘Tuck Everlasting’

Summer Days and Summer Nights
first six stories book review

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail
by Leigh Bardugo
I thought that this was the perfect start to this book. Before starting, I didn’t realize the fantasy element this book would have, but was definitely pleasantly surprised. Only downside of this one was the predictability!

The End of Love
by Nina LaCour
This story was more what I expected from this book. It was a sweet story, but nothing surprised me.

Last Stand at the Cinegore
by Libba Bray
I really really wanted to like this story, because I love Libba Bray, but it just didn’t work for me. I knew going into it that it was going to be weird, and I usually love how unique and strange Bray’s stories can be, but there wasn’t really anything I liked about this one.

Sick Pleasure
by Francesca Lia Block
I didn’t hate this story, but I didn’t really understand its point. It doesn’t really add much to the collection. The story had potential, but really just fell flat for me.

In Ninety Minutes Turn North
by Stephanie Perkins
I love love loved this story. This story made reading the entire collection worth it. It was a cliche idea presented in a totally unique way. I’ve never read anything like it!

by Tim Federle
I don’t know what it is, but the idea of a romance in a theme park just intrigues me. The story was cute and simple. The simplicity of the story was my favorite part.


2014 Stonewall Book Awards

The Stonewall Book Awards honor books with “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience” (source).

Here are the winners of the 2014 Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award:

  • Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (Flux)
  • Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (Candlewick Press)

Here are the 2014 Stonewall Honor Books in Children’s and Young Adult Literature:

  • Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) 
  • Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington (Second Story Press)
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (Alfred A. Knopf)

Go here to see all of the 2014 Stonewall Awards, including books for adults.

- Read Kirstin Cronn-Mills’s DiYA guest post.

- Read e.E. Charlton-Trujillo’s DiYA guest post.


Tim Federle: I’m trying to think when I was a kid what the most diverse book was that I read and I’m having a hard time thinking of it, which is, I think, in a way what underscores the entire campaign.

On #GivingTuesdday consider the gift of how much seeing yourself represented in the literature you read (whether assigned in class or freely found on shelves) could make such a difference in terms of one’s attachment to reading and advocacy of books in general.

If you #SupportWNDB visit our Indiegogo campaign page to see our initiatives for educational kits to give school teachers and librarians on what books are out there and how to share them with young readers.

Jeff Daniels as Colonel Joshua Chamberlain in  “Gettysburg”

Gettysburg is a 1993 film based on the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, depicting the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. It was followed up by the prequel film Gods and Generals in 2003

Film Quotes:

  • “I haven’t known that many freedmen, but those I knew in Bangor, Portland, you look in the eye, there was a man. There was a ‘divine spark’, as my mother used to call it. That is all there is to it. Races are men. 'What a piece of work is man. How infinite in faculties, in form and moving. How express and admirable. In action, how like an angel’.  ~ Joshua Chamberlain -Gettysburg Film Quote
  • America should be free ground - all of it. Not divided by a line between slave state and free, all the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here, we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here, you can be something. Here, is the place to build a home. But it’s not the land. There’s always more land. It’s the idea that we all have value - you and me. What we’re fighting for, in the end, we’re fighting for each other. Sorry, I, uh, didn’t mean to preach. You, uh, you go ahead. You talk for awhile. Uh, if you, uh, if you choose to join us, you want your muskets back, you can have 'em. Nothing more will be said by anybody anywhere. If you, uh, choose not to join us, well you can come along under guard, and when this is all over I will do what I can to see you get a fair treatment. But for now, we’re moving out. Gentlemen, I think if we lose this fight, we lose the war. So if you choose to join us, I’ll be personally very grateful. ~Joshua Chamberlain -Gettysburg Film Quote