Check my picks if you like...
Queer Kids Books
A sweet, nuanced young adult romance with a diverse cast? Sign me up! 'Via Daniel's thoughtful examinations of neurodivergence, sexuality, and self-identity through photography ("The filter of a lens between myself and the rest of the world is confusing"), Ramos, who is autistic and queer themself, infuses this realistic and relatable romp with raw emotion and affirming introspection."
A story about boyhood, about growing up in dusty Tucson as a transmasc kid, about watching yourself grow together with your peers, as equals regardless of gender, until you inevitably start to grow in different directions and you just can't understand why. There were a lot of instances in this book that hit home for me. I would have dog-eared a lot of pages had I not been reading a digital copy! I did take some screenshots...
"Arlo and Wesley, who both knew I was a different kind of boy, but loved me like a brother just the same." "At home in the Airstream I was my parent's daughter, but up in the paloverde I felt like one of the boys."
This is my all time favorite book, enough so that I own several different copies and read/listen at least twice a year. Good queer fiction is hard enough to come by, but this one's almost 35 years old and still holds up! It's not sugar-coated, it's not censored, it's not relegated to subtext, it's just plainly and explicitly queer. You've got swordsmen, university dropouts, nobles with enough spare change to pay for assassinations left and right, volatile relationship dynamics that blur the line between devotion and recklessness, and plenty of good ol' fashioned murder, so what's not to enjoy?
All in all, Swordspoint really came out in the 80s just to say, "be gay, do crime," before it was cool.
If I had the chance to reread anything again, like I'd never read it before, it's be this. The Secret History is a long, lovely mess of found family, dark academia, and murder, full of lies and characters that are both awful and awfully likable. This is easily my favorite read of 2021!
Listen, I know this is a book intended for kids and young teens, but I (25) fell so deeply in love with it - I couldn't put it down!
Growing up, I found just about zero queer representation in media, or at least nothing positive. So seeing a story like this, with two young queer leads? Who are in love ON the page, not as subtext? Who are still learning HOW to be in love, how to rely on each other? Who aren't afraid to cry when it's all too much? It's both heartwarming and refreshing. I definitely teared up a few times myself!
A classic historical fiction story rewritten to be queer? Sign me up!
Forget Elizabeth Bennet, this is all about Oliver Bennet, a (mostly) closeted gay/trans man. The book follows the same basic beats as the original (Darcy being a prick, Collins pursuing Elizabeth/Oliver, etc), just reworked to also be about a queer young adult learning to be himself. It got a bit cheesy at times, but two things stood out to me:
1, the portrayals of Oliver's worsening dysphoria were incredibly relatable.
2, it's so special to see him get his happy ending.
Novoa gives us a great display of queer despair that turns into queer joy - it's fun and fluffy, quick and colorful. As a trans adult, I wish I'd had this as a teen.
Are you seeking to physically transition from female to male/masc? Look no further!
Finding worthwhile advice for transitioning is hard, even with the internet at your fingertips. Luckily, Sage Buch has compiled a bunch of very helpful resources! Coming from a trans man who has dealt with nearly every aspect in this book, I can say it is genuinely useful. I'll certainly be recommending it.
"Hudson's FTM Resource Guide" is another great resource, and is free online, but it hasn't been updated in many years. Buch's book is nice and up-to-date as of early 2023!
I've read this three times and my book club is, literally, obsessed with it.
But, with a transmasc, queer, and Latinx lead, ghosts, brujas and brujos, found family, and young love, all in the days leading up to Dia de Los Muertos? Who wouldn't be!?
Best of all, it comes from a transmasc, queer, Latinx author! So, if you're looking for authenticity and adventure, Aiden Thomas can certainly provide.
I blazed through this in one sitting, it's that good!
If you're looking for a serious, near-horror story with animal protags, this is the one for you - not only is the art gorgeous, illustrated like a classic children's book with satisfying color and texture, the story hooks into you like a burr stuck in your fur. It's not for the faint of heart, though, Adams does not shy away from the violence of the animal world. Good for now-older fans of the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, or similar-in-tone movies such as Felidae and Plague Dogs.
Check out the book and film, too!
This is a rough read, but it is WORTH it.
Set in the 80s, the series follows 17-year-old gang leader Ash Lynx as he tries to uncover the truth behind a mysterious drug popping up in New York City, all while trying to keep himself and his new friends alive.
"Banana Fish" is an exploration of trauma, notorious for being absolutely heartbreaking - but the scenes of beautiful, unconditional love sprinkled throughout hit hard enough to give you whiplash.
The series grabs you and doesn't let go when you're done with it. No spoilers, but there's a reason fans visit the New York Public Library every year on a specific date.
Content Warnings: rape, child sexual assault, prostitution, mentions of child pornography, anorexia, drug use, murder, and gun/gang violence. As well, this series was written in the 80s, meaning there are instances of racism and homophobia. Be warned!
Found family? ✓
Diverse cast? ✓
Magic? Murder? Undead kings and magical forests? Car races and deadly nightmares? ✓
This book has it all! The Raven Boys, 1st in the "Raven Cycle" series, brings together a handful of messy, magical teens and ties them to each other with a treasure hunt gone very, very wrong. If you like snark, nice cars, and the kinds of friendship that really say "ride or die," you'll like this series.
As the author of "Transgender History," Susan Stryker, puts it, this book is a "refreshingly readable romp through the history of gender variance before the invention of contemporary 'transgender' categories and concepts."
Heyam does a fantastic job at reminding us that there is not just one narrative with gender, that gender identity has always existed but not necessarily in the same ways. We can't say for certain which historical figures would call themselves trans today, but we can still compare our shared experiences and learn from them!
This book works as an easy introduction to gender identity for young kids, with short and easy to follow conversations about identity, stereotypes, pronouns, and the history of those topics, all presented in a way suitable for young kids and even adults! Regardless of age, this book is a great starting point for learning about gender!
You want a queer romance that doesn't beat around the bush? One with unapologetically queer characters whose struggles don't come from their sexuality? One with healthy romantic and familial relationship dynamics? With magic? Princes and pirates? Dangerous secrets and deadly bargains? Absolutely unsubtle flirting? In Deeper Waters gives you all that and more, a story about a sheltered prince learning the dark truth about how the world feels about parts of him he cannot change, and a mysterious boy who refuses to wear shoes and always shows up at the right time. If you want a heartwarming mix of adventure and romance, F.T. Lukens sure can provide.
This novel takes "'til death do we part" to a whole new level.
Follow Wei Wuxian through his dumpster fire of a life, and afterlife, in this actiony and raw queer story set in Ancient China.
This story? It invented love. I don't make the rules, it's just that good.
This book is, simply, the best book ever written, ever illustrated, ever created. It is perfect for any age, from three year olds learning how to get along with others all the way to twenty-somethings learning the same. It's short, sweet, colorful, and reminds us to be open and respectful to our friends.
It does make me want to eat pizza, though...
A great way to explain gender identity to kids, in simple terms! And it's suitable for adults learning about gender, too!
"Sad things are hard to hear. They are pretty hard to say, too. They should be told in little pieces."
This book doesn't explain death so much as it looks at how we handle it: confusion, anger, sadness even when we don't expect to feel it, the struggles of talking about it. It's very, very beautifully illustrated, moving, and, surprisingly, quite soothing.
Possibly one of the cutest hat-related books there are! Not only is the art style lovely and whimsical, but the message is perfect: hats are for everyone!!!
Not only is the art for this absolutely lovely (the lines, the colors, the style, the texture in the inking - wow!), but the story is smooth and fast-paced; I was hooked the whole time! If you like sapphic witches, cozy towns, snarky familiars, and an overarching theme of sharing and trust, this is for you!
Not your typical Red Riding Hood story!
Instead of taking Grandma's place or trying to steal a basket, the Wolf tries and tries to convince Little Leroy LeRouge that his frilly outfit is for girls - boys are meant to wear shorts and hats, not dresses and bows! But Leroy teaches the Wolf that you can wear whatever you like, as long as it makes you happy (or "mighty as a firecracker") - and gains a new friend in the process.