Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Feature LGBTQ Characters or Issues


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Books that Feature LGBTQ Characters or Issues

When this week’s topic popped up about celebrating diversity, we knew that we wanted to celebrate books with LGBTQ characters or issues (particularly in light of the SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling). Below are 10 books we’ve read that we feel are wonderful representations of middle grade and young adult literature that include LGBTQ characters or issues. They are listed in no particular order, and to be honest, we had a hard time narrowing the list to ten!

Ricki and Kellee

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


A beautiful, quiet book that is very literary, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe follows Aristotle, a boy who doesn’t have friends until he meets Dante. Through Dante, he learns about friendship, life, and loyalty.

2. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

ask the passengers

Astrid is very cerebral–she can get lost in philosophical theories and questions about the world. Her favorite pastime is laying on the bench in her backyard so she can send her love to the passengers on the airplanes that fly overhead. At her catering job, Astrid meets Dee, and she falls in love. She isn’t sure if this makes her a lesbian, as she has never loved another girl, and society wants to fit her in a box that she isn’t quite sure describes her.

3. Drama by Raina Telgemeier


Drama takes place during a middle school theater production and deals with dating and friendships of the theater kids. This book needed to be included on our list for the way that homosexuality is dealt with as a non-issue in the book. It is just straight forward and matter of fact–just part of life.

4. Shine by Lauren Myracle


Cat is best friends with Patrick, and they are inseparable. After some troubling incidents, she decides to stray from Patrick and their group of friends and becomes a loner. The book starts off with Patrick, beaten until he is unconscious, slumped in front of a gas station with a gas nozzle hanging from his mouth and a sign that reads “Suck this, faggot.” With every page, readers become more and more hooked to the mystery that unfolds. This is a book that teaches readers to look internally at the judgments they make of others. Most importantly, this is a book that teaches us to SHINE.

5. October Mourning by Lesléa Newman


This is an incredibly important publication–both for those who know and remember his story, and for those who were too young to have lived through the horror of it all. Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old, openly gay college student encountered two other college students in a bar on fateful night on October 6th, 1998. Pretending to be gay, the two men lured Matthew into their truck, drove to a deserted area, tied him to a fence, and beat him with a pistol as he begged for his life. Eighteen hours later, a biker saw Matthew and rode for help. Sadly, Matthew died in a hospital five days later with his family by his side. Leslea Newman, the author, was scheduled as the keynote speaker at Matthew’s school for Gay Awareness week the following Sunday. Using resources and documents, she constructs a beautiful, unforgettable book in verse that truly captures the horrifying events of this tragedy.

6. Luna by Julie Anne Peters


Regan is the only person who knows that her brother, Liam, secretly feels he is a female. As Liam transgenders into Luna, the reader is able to feel the multitude of emotions that both Regan and Luna feel throughout the process. This book is worthy of the awards it has received.

7. So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez

so hard to say

Very few books deal with questioning sexuality in middle school, but Alex Sanchez does just that in So Hard to Say.

8. Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathan

boy meets

This was the first David Leviathan book that I ever read, and I was truly enthralled with the world that he crafted. In Boy Meets Boy, different is normal and prejudice doesn’t exist, so it is a romantic comedy which just happens to be between a boy and a boy.

Note: Two Boys Kissing also deserves to be honored in this list. It weaves together stories of four gay teens as they face the challenges of being young and gay as they navigate the world.

9. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg


Rafe just wants to be a regular teen. Not the GAY teen who does this and that. Just a teen. So, for his senior year, he transfers to a boarding school and keeps his sexuality a secret; however, hiding who you are is harder than Rafe ever thought it’d be.

10. I Am J by Cris Beam

i am j

J is a boy but was mistakenly born as a girl. I am J is his story of working through the depression associated with having a body that was “assigned” to him. This is a truly inspiring, heartfelt, and change-making novel.


gracefully george

Gracefully Grayson and George are both about transgendered youth, and their search for acceptance. Neither of us have read these books, but we are so excited that such important LBGT books are being published in the MG/YA world! We cannot wait to read these.

For more LBGT titles, check out the Stonewall Book Award which is a set of three literary awards that annually recognize “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience” in English-language books published in the U.S.

There are so many great books about LGBTQ issues, and as we stated above, we had a hard time narrowing down our list to just ten books. Which would you add?

RickiSig and Signature

17 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Feature LGBTQ Characters or Issues”

  1. Gracefully Grayson is a very sweet book! I still need to read George, will someday! Luna was a breakthrough novel. We loved reading it and knowing that more books would be coming! There are some here I don’t know, so thanks very much for the list!

    • I think you would really enjoy all of these on the list Carrie. They are all such important, well done, special books.
      Openly Straight is getting a sequel, so it is perfect timing to read it. Also, it was a Walden 2014 finalist 🙂

  2. This is a wonderful list, and I’m putting everything I haven’t read yet on my to-read list.
    Question–I teach 7th and 8th grade. Are there books on this list that you particularly WOULD or definitely WOULD NOT suggest I have in my classroom library? I think all kids should have access to all books, but not all of the parents in my community agree, and we were forced to pull Eleanor and Park off our shelves last year.

  3. I’m sorry to say that I have not read many of these, but I will definitely make it a point to read more LGTBA novels from now on using your list as a starting point. I have read Gracefully Grayson and loved it, in fact, even more than George. I will be sure to read A.S. King, especially since she will be at the KidLitCon in October and I plan on being there, too.
    Thanks for sharing these books.


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