Are you looking for middle-grade books that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community? I got it covered with these 18 titles.
18 Must-Read LGBTQ+ Middle-Grade Books
By now, we all know how essential representation is. We all know that it matters, it opens us up to understanding others, and it makes us excited to see ourselves represented in the books we read, and shows and movies we watch. Creating a better world means learning and understanding one another. Maybe you don’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but chances are you know someone who is. Reading about the LGBTQ+ community, seeing them represented in the media, can open you and your children’s eyes and hearts to members of the community. Before we jump into the 18 must-read LGBTQ+ middle-grade books, please take a moment to pin this post to your reading board.
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LGBTQ+ Books for Middle-Grade Readers
Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she’s in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she’s coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she’s able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.
To Night Owl From DogFish
Avery Bloom, who’s bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who’s fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.
When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends–and possibly, one day, even sisters.
But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can’t imagine life without each other, will Bett and Avery (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?
Middle School’s A Drag You Better Werk!
Twelve-year-old Mikey Pruitt–president, founder, and CEO of Anything, Inc.–has always been an entrepreneur at heart. Inspired by his grandfather Pap Pruitt, who successfully ran all sorts of businesses from a car wash to a roadside peanut stand, Mikey is still looking for his million-dollar idea. Unfortunately, most of his ideas so far have failed. A baby tornado ran off with his general store, and the kids in his neighborhood never did come back for their second croquet lesson. But Mikey is determined to keep at it.
Twelve-year-old Mattie wrestles with her crush on Gemma as they participate in their school production of Romeo and Juliet in what School Library Journal calls “a fine choice for middle school libraries in need of an accessible LGBTQ stories.”
Twelve-year-old Mattie is thrilled when she learns the eighth grade play will be Romeo and Juliet. In particular, she can’t wait to share the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, who has been cast as Juliet. Gemma is brilliant, pretty—and British!—and Mattie starts to see her as more than just a friend. But Mattie has also had an on/off crush on her classmate Elijah since, well, forever. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls?
Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again.
Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn’t realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in forever.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.
Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
Lily and Dunkin
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.
Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.
One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.
Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy—
Talking about boogers.
Stealing pocket change.
Executing complicated handshakes.
Planning an escape.
But mostly, too busy walking home.
Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.
A graphic novel series about a summer camp for hardcore lady types. It features a number of LGBTQ characters in heroic roles and is highly entertaining. In this volume, Jen just wants to have a normal lesson with her cabin, teaching Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley the basic survival skills needed without any supernatural intervention when a blizzard hits camp! Separated from her girls, Jen finds herself in more trouble than ever…until a mysterious stranger swoops in to save the day. Who is this taxidermist? What is her relationship with Rosie? Join Jen as she finds a way back to her girls, and a way to save the day!
In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.
When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though, for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.
In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.
The Prince and the Dressmaker
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.
See You at Harry’s
Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges for twelve-year-old Fern. She feels invisible — until the unthinkable happens, and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the tragedy that has wrenched her family apart. Nothing will ever be the same — but can Fern and her family find a way to heal?
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.
If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.
The Lotterys Plus One
Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed “good girl” of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather — the long dormant “Grumps,” who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn’t been part of any of their lives.
Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household… He’s worse than just tough to get along with — Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs?
The Other Boy
Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh.
But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his friends and teammates, even Josh. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down.
It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.
The Both Die At the End
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.
Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.
Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.
But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that . . . understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.
Martin McLean Middle School Queen
Seventh-grader Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colorful Tío Billy works in theater, and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don’t care what other people think. But Martin can only find the right words when he’s answering a problem at a Mathletes competition—until his tío introduces him to the world of drag. In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie León. As Lottie, he is braver than he’s ever been; but like Martin, he doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone outside of his family about her. Not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates, and definitely not Chris, an eighth-grader who gives Martin butterflies. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends—and channeling his inner drag superstar.
I love how these books encourage love, support and acceptance. If there are any books we have missed let us know in the comments, as we are always eager to read more!