Bookworm for Kids

Sexual Identity

SimonSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertan
Ages 14–up
Simon Speir, a high school junior, is successfully hiding his homosexuality until his classmate Martin discovers his secret email correspondence with another boy. Martin blackmails Simon into helping him get to know Abby, a new girl who is part of Simon’s lunch clique. The treat of being outed by Martin forces Simon into coming to terms with his sexuality in this poignant and funny novel full of wit and wordplay.

StonewallStonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
by Ann Bausum
Ages 12–up
In 1969 being gay in the United States was a criminal offense. Most hid their sexual orientation for fear of losing their jobs or becoming estranged from their families. The Stonewall Inn, a Mafie-run bar in New York City, was one of the few places gays could feel free to be themselves. One hot night in June, the police raided the bar. But the crowd refused to leave quietly and the raid became a riot that triggered a demand for gay civil rights. This exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national gay rights movement that continues to the present is powerful.

by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
Ages 12–up
Stephen was born invisible, not even his parents have seen him. Now 16 Stephen is alone in his Manhattan apartment, his father long gone and his mother dead. Then Elizabeth (16) and her family move into the building, having left Minnesota after her younger brother Laurie was badly beaten for being gay. Amazingly Elizabeth can see Stephen. Learning that Stephen’s invisibility is the result of a curse, Elizabeth and Laurie join Stephen in a quest to reverse the curse.

The Miseaducation of Cameron PostThe Miseducation of Cameron Post
by Emily M. Danforth
Ages 14–up
Cameron Post is just beginning to come to terms with the realization that she might be a lesbian when her parents suddenly die in a car accident. Cameron is sent to live with her conservative Aunt Ruth in rural Montana and Cam tries to keep a low profile and fit in. Then Coley Taylor moves to town and the two girls form an intense friendship. Aunt Ruth is horrified when Cam’s secret questionings are revealed, and sends her to God’s Promise, a residential school designed to help teens break free from “sexual sin” and welcome Jesus Christ into their lives. This funny and heart-breaking coming of age story is beautifully written.

Symtoms of Being HumanSymptoms of Being Human
by Jeff Garvin
Ages 14–up
Riley Cavanaugh is starting junior year at a new high school, worried about the usual problems about what to wear and where to sit at lunch. Riley’s gender-nonconforming appearance makes things even more difficult since Riley is gender-fluid, some days identifying as male and some days as female. And Riley’s father is running for reelection as a congressman in ultra-conservative Orange County, California. Riley’s therapist advises an anonymous blog to release pent-up feeling, which works just fine until the blog goes viral and an unnamed commentator threatens to expose Riley’s true identity. Riley is faced with a dilemma — walk away from the new friends made through the blog or go public and risk everything.

by Alex Gino
Ages 8–12
George (10) is a boy in the eyes of everyone, but inside she knows she is really a girl. Before her mother and older brother come home each day, George comes her hair into bangs and calls herself Melissa, burying her secret after those few treasured moments. When George’s fourth grade class holds try-outs for a performance of Charlotte’s Web, George longs for the part of Charlotte, but her teacher doesn’t allow boys to audition for the part. George’s best friend Kelly wins the part, and the two come up with a plan for helping George’s peers and family to accept her as transgender.

Girl Mans UpGirl Mans Up
by M-E Girard
Ages 14–up
Pen Oliveira (16) looks and dresses like a boy, and doesn’t understand why the way she looks is such a big deal to everyone. Though her Portuguese immigrant parents are conservative, Pen has always been protected by her older brother and accepted by her best friend Colby, who treats her like one of the guys. But Colby’s new interest in girls causes them to grow apart, and Pen’s new friend Blake, who wants to be her girlfriend, cause her to examine the meaning of respect.

Radiant DaysRadiant Days
by Elizabeth Hand
Ages 14–up
In 1978 painter and graffiti artist Merle Tappitt is in her first year of art school at the Corcoran School of Art, struggling to make the adjustment between her impoverished Appalachian past and the sophisticated and dissipated art scene in Washington DC. In 1870 16-year-old Arthur Rimbaud, on the verge of writing the poetry that will make him famous, sets out for Paris. Both end up spending the night in a lockhouse and wake up together in 1978. The two gay misfits form a mystical bond, slipping back and forth in time and influencing each other to produce great art.

NormalThe Last Exit to Normal
by Michael Harmon
Ages 14–up
When 17-year-old Ben’s father announces he’s gay and the family splits up, Ben figures it can’t get worse. But then his father and boyfriend move with Ben from big-city Spokane to a rural Montana town—no place for a boy with spiked hair, a skateboard habit, and two dads.

by E.M. Kokie
Ages 14–up
Bex Mullin (16) is obsessed with preparing for the catastrophe she is sure will come soon. She spends as much time as she can practicing her marksmanship and improving her survival skills despite her family’s disapproval of her unfeminine appearance and hobbies. Bex’s older brother discovers the Clearview survival group takes preparing for disaster as seriously as Bex does. Then Bex falls for Lucy, who wants nothing to do with guns and survival training, and her brother’s involvement with Clearview becomes worrisome. When the government takes an interest in Bex’s family, she must decide where her loyalties lie.

Honestly BenHonestly Ben
by Bill Konigsberg
Ages 14–up
Ben Carver (17) is having a tough year. He isn’t doing well in calculus, endangering his GPS and his chance of winning a scholarship. He is attracted to Hannah, a beautiful neighborhood girl. But the real trouble is that Ben is in love with his former best friend Rafe. Ben isn’t against gays, but as the son of a farmer and captain of the baseball team, he has trouble accepting that he is sexually attracted to a boy. This excellent exploration of modern relationships and the many forms of love is a companion to Openly Straight.

Ask the PassengersAsk the Passengers
by A.S. King
Ages 15–up
Astrid, a high school senior, moved from New York City to Unity Valley, Pennsylvania, years ago, but the intolerant town still doesn’t feel like home. She doesn’t feel comfortable coming out as gay and exposing herself to the homophobic gossip mill, and longs for someone to confide in. She can’t talk honestly to her parents, so spends hours lying on the picnic table in her back yard, talking to the passengers in the airplanes that fly overhead.

Hold Me CloserHold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story
by David Levithan
Ages 14–up
Tiny Cooper, the best friend from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, takes center stage in this companion volume containing the script and lyrics of the autobiographical musical he wrote and staged. Born big boned and happily gay, Tiny was supported by his parents and Phil, his straight BFF, through school bullies and a homophobic coach. Phil offers helpful advice through Tiny’s 18 unsuccessful relationships, as Tiny discovers that love is often painful but worth it in the end. This frank and funny novel is only missing the accompanying soundtrack.

Draw the LineDraw the Line
by Laurent Linn
Ages 12–up
Adrian Piper is a gay teen in a small homophobic Texas high school, reluctant to display his true identity. He escapes into the comic world he draws featuring Graphite, a Renaissance-art-inspired gay superhero who has adventures with disguised versions of Adrian’s friends. When bullies attack another gay student, Adrian can no longer hide under the radar and steps up to confront the bullies, exposing his own secrets. Dramatic pencil illustrations of Graphite’s adventures add to this emotionally rich book.
You Don't Know About MeYou Don’t Know About Me
by Brian Meehl
Ages 12–up
Billy, nearly 16, has spend his whole life traveling from place to place with his mother working as “ninja warriors for the Lord.” Billy is a willing crusader, but he longs to give up home schooling and settle down for awhile, living a normal life and attending a regular high school. The arrival of a message from the father he thought was dead prompts Billy to break free and head out on a wild road trip, joining forces with Ruah, a closeted gay professional baseball player. The friendship between the unlikely pair causes Billy to question everything he’s ever known as the two try to figure out who they really are.

by Patrick Ness
Ages 14–up
Adam Thorne is a gay teenager with homophobic parents whose creepy boss has been sexually harassing him. Hours before the going-away party for his ex-boyfriend Enzo, his best friend Angela tells him that she is moving to the Netherlands for senior year. The ghost of a classmate murdered by her met-addicted boyfriend wanders through Adam’s day, as he tries to make sense of his sexuality and his life.

Radio SilenceRadio Silence
by Alice Oseman
Ages 13–up
Frances Janvier, a high-achieving British student with few friends, has been a fan of the podcast Universe City since its first episode. She even created a fan art site for the show under the pseudonym Toulouse. Aled Last is a quiet straight-A student with few friends who lives next door to Frances. He is the creator of Universe City. When the two realize their connection, they form a friendship, bonding while collaborating over the podcast and receiving much-needed support as fellow queers.

Queer, There, EverywhereQueer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World
by Sarah Prager, Zoe More O’Ferrall
Ages 13–up
This insightful, respectful, and sometimes irreverent book explores gender identity and sexuality by focusing on 23 individuals from different times and nations defined by a broad definition of queerness: “anyone outside society’s gender and sexuality norms.” Among those featured are Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, baseball player Glenn Burke, blues singer Ma Rainey, queer rights activist Sylvia Rivera, actor George Takai, and gender-ambiguous Christina, the Queen of Sweden.

Gabi, Girl in PiecesGabi, a Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero
Ages 14–up
Gabi Hernandez (16) chronicles her senior year with a frank and funny narration in her diary. It’s not an easy year. Gabi’s father is unsuccessfully fighting a meth addiction, her best friend Cindy is pregnant, and her other best friend Sebastian has just been thrown out of his house after revealing his homosexuality to his strict parents. Gabi feels too American to fit in with her Mexican family, and not white enough to fit in with her Berkeley neighborhood.

GIRLGIRL: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You
by Karen Rayne, Ramsey Beyer, Nyk Rayne
Ages 13–up
This empowering guide to sexuality is designed for all “older teenagers who identify as female,” candidly examining gender, healthy relationships, consent, and various types of sex. Handwritten entries from six teens and young women proved intimate and honest perspectives.

If I Was Your GirlIf I Was Your Girl
by Meredith Russo
Ages 13–up
Amanda Hardy was born Andrew, but always knew she was meant to be a girl. After enduring bullies and her father’s advice to be tough, she moves to live with her mother during the long and difficult physical transformation. She returns to live with her father, eager to begin her new life and finish high school in a new school, hoping to go unnoticed until she becomes used to her new self. But boys are attracted to her new beauty, and Amanda forms a tentative relationship with easygoing Grant, though she is afraid he will no longer like her if he learns the secret of her past. But can they really have a relationship if she refuses to share her truth? This sensitive exploration of the emotional journey of a trans teen is full of hope.

by Olivia Samms
Ages 14-up
Bea Washington is a middle class high school senior just out of rehab for substance abuse. On her first day at her new school, Bea bonds with Chris, a bluntly honest gay senior unlike the rest of the senior class. Willa, the homecoming queen, presents a cheerful facade to hide the drug use that she uses to keep a brutal sexual assault buried. Bea’s talent for sketching what others are feeling reveals the man who raped and nearly killed Willa, compelling her to find and stop him before he attacks again. This realistic examination of drugs, sex, violence, racism, and bullying is the first in a projected series.

The Berlin Boxing ClubThe Berlin Boxing Club
by Robert Sharenow
Ages 12–up
Karl Stern (14) has never thought of himself as Jewish since his family isn’t religious. But in 1930s Berlin he is tormented and beaten by his classmates so his father’s friend Max Schmeling, a boxing champ, agrees to train Karl as a boxer so he can defend himself and his younger sister. As the Nazi regime gains power, it becomes clear that Karl and his family aren’t safe in German. A talented artist, Karl draws cartoons and comics as he dreams of finding freedom in America, falls in love with a Catholic neighbor, and meets a cross-dressing homosexual. This powerful historical novel examines racism and prejudice through the lens of both fictional children and real historical figures.

by Andrew Smith
Ages 14–up
Stark McCellan is known as Stick since he is so tall and thin. Now 14, Stick hasn’t had an easy life. Born with only one ear, Stick has been bullied at school. His older brother Boston tries to protect him, but neither boy can protect the other from their abusive parents. When Stick realizes that Boston is gay, he tries to prevent a violent confrontation with their angry father, and Boston leaves home. Stick steals the family car and sets off in search of his brother, knowing he will never feel whole again without him.

by Raina Telgemeier
Ages 9–13
Seventh grader Callie is nuts about musical theater, but can’t sing. Instead, she is designing the sets for the school production of Moon Over Mississippi. But Callie doesn’t know much about carpentry, and can't decide which boy in the theater group she likes most. The eighth grader playing the lead? The twin (who happens to be gay) playing the comic role? Or the other twin helping with set decoration? The manga inspired illustrations beautifully support this humorous story of friendship, love, and the inner workings of a middle school theater group.

Honor GirlHonor Girl: A Graphic Memoir
by Maggie Thrash
Ages 14–up
Maggie (15) has attended the same Appalachian sleep-away camp for years. Maggie is from Atlanta and looks forward each year to a long peaceful relaxing summer. But this year everything changes when a random touch by an older girl awakens a flood of desire in Maggie. Teens questioning their sexual orientation is totally opposite to the camp’s ideal of Southern womanhood, and Maggie must deal with gossip and criticism along with the turmoil of first love.

by John Corey Whaley
Ages 14–up
When Travis Coates dies from acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 16, his head is surgically removed and cryogenically frozen. Five years later, technological advances allow doctors to reattach his head to a taller and more muscular body than the one he left behind. Unfortunately all of his friends are five years older, and Travis is still a sophomore in high school. His best friend Kyle, who confessed he was gay at Travis’s deathbed has gone back in the closet. And his girlfriend Kate is engaged to be married. Travis is determined to reverse both these decisions and win back both his best friend and the love of his girlfriend.