It’s time for the 3rd annual roundup of star-studded LGBTQIA+ titles for kids and teens. While stars aren’t everything (especially not to youth), I think it’s interesting to see the types of books that receive praise. Once I have five years of information, I may even write something a bit more in depth. Until then, here is a list!
A quick comparison from last year’s list shows a decrease in the number of starred reviews: 105 titles received at least 1 star (89 in 2018, 152 in 2019) and 16 titles received 3+ stars (26 in 2018, 38 in 2019). Due to the pandemic, it could be that fewer titles were reviewed or that publication dates were pushed back. Or it could be that, after the boom of LGBTQIA+ publishing in recent years, journals are more reluctant to give stars. For more statistics fun beyond stars and LGBTQIA+ identities, check out the CCBC findings.
Only two of the titles with 3+ stars received Stonewall recognition. Even more interesting is that The Black Flamingo had already been named the 2020 winner before its US publication and still only got 3 stars. (For my thoughts on Stonewall 2021, check out my post at Medal on My Mind.)
Sources: As always, I relied on Jen J’s fabulous starred reviews spreadsheet to tally up the stars. I also used Mombian, LGBTQ Reads, I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?, and Goodreads tagging to help me identify which books had queer content. Those first three sites are absolutely amazing, so follow them for information about new releases or to check out their extensive lists. I also used CCBC Diversity Statistics Book Search, which tracks books with significant representation for a variety of identities, to add any titles I missed.
Disclaimer: I haven’t personally read most these titles, so my including them here is not an endorsement. The titles could have tons of queer content or minimal content. For titles that have been vetted by multiple librarians with positive LGBTQIA+ representation, I’d encourage you to check out the Rainbow Book List and Stonewall Book Award selections. CCBC also has an incredible book search, which I mentioned above.
- The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (PW, Kirkus, Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book, BCCB)
- King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (PW, Horn Book, SLJ, Booklist)
- Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles (Kirkus, PW, SLJ, Booklist)
- Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (PW, Kirkus, Booklist, BCCB)
- Rick by Alex Gino (Kirkus, SLJ, PW, Booklist)
- 19 Love Songs by David Levithan (Booklist, SLJ, BCCB)
- The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (SLJ, Kirkus, PW) *2020 Stonewall Winner*
- Burn by Patrick Ness (SLJ, PW, Booklist)
- Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone (Kirkus, Booklist, SLJ)
- Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (SLJ, PW, Booklist) *2021 Stonewall Honor*
- Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit (Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist)
- The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert (Kirkus, PW, Booklist)
- Parachutes by Kelly Yang (Booklist, PW, SLJ)
- Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (PW, Kirkus, Booklist)
- Snapdragon by Kat Leyh (Kirkus, PW, Booklist)
What about 1 or 2 stars? Here’s a link to the full list for curious minds.
PW = Publisher’s Weekly
SLJ = School Library Journal
BCCB = Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books