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LGBT Books for Families, Youth, and Parents
Curated collections of queer resources for youth, which contain resources about sexual/affectional orientation and gender identity for youth, their families and allies; youth with parent(s) who identify as such; and those who work with them.
Books for Youth—Fiction
- Am I Blue?
edited by Marion Dane Bauer
Harper Trophy, 1994
This is a stunning collection of short stories about bisexual, gay, and lesbian issues for youth. Written by some of the most prolific and honored children's literature writers, the stories explore identity, relationships, parents, coming out, and many other issues. The title story by Bruce Coville is fantastic. Other authors include Lois Lowry, Jacqueline Woodson, Jane Yolen, Francesca Lia Block, and Marion Dane Bauer to name a few. A must.
- Annie on My Mind
Two young European-American women fall in love. About two high school seniors, the book beautifully conveys the homophobia gay youth are likely to encounter when they get the opportunity to date and still captures the feelings of first love. As the two women come more and more out, the reader sees how their parents, teachers, friends, and institutions react. Very current despite being nearly 15 years old.
- From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun
Blue Sky Press, 1995
A brilliant novel of an inner city African American youth and his lesbian mother. Woodson is a powerful writer and the tale is complex and engaging. An award-winning book of the struggle of a family in a homophobic, heterosexist society.
Vintage Books, 1989
A European-American youth discovers his dad is gay. Nice, well-written book that offers portrayals of all characters as real people. Jack also gains perspective on his life.
- We're Not Alone
Lavender Press, 1992
The story of two European-American youth, one gay, the other lesbian, and their friends. Nicely told and written, the text type is the glitch here. Isensee is a mental health counselor for the gay and lesbian community.
- Entries from a Hot Pink Notebook
Todd D. Brown
Washington, Square Press, 1995
This book is quite enjoyable. It captures neatly the experience of two European-American gay youth in a multi-dimensional way. Ben who seems less "with it" than Aaron actually deals with his own homophobia better. Interesting contrast of cultures and experiences. Told in diary form, the reader is drawn in nicely to Ben's mind.
- Baby Be-Bop
Francesca Lia Block
Joanna Cotter Books, 1995
In addition to the fact that Francesca Lia Block is an amazing writer, this book, told somewhat akin to Dickens' A Christmas Carol , is the story of Dirk, a youth just discovering his homosexuality. The writing is striking, promoting powerful visuals, and Dirk is definitely an urban European-American L.A. kid of the 90's. When Dirk is the victim of a gay hate crime, he must find a reason to live. The book also takes on historical notes as we hear his Grandmother Fifi's story. Incredible book. Dirk appears in several other books by Block.
- Not The Only One
Edited by Tony Grima
Alyson Publications, 1994
Another collection of short stories about gay and lesbian youth (mainly European-American). The selections are very good, varied, though some are a little disturbing. Still there's something for everyone here and issues are not glossed over.
- The Drowning of Stephan Jones
Bantam Books, 1992
Interesting story of a young straight woman and two gay men (all European-American) in a small Arkansas town. Worthwhile and generally believable, the story stays with you. It does focus too much on the straight woman being the heroic figure here, but the fact that the book takes place in a rural Southern setting is a plus.
- All The Ways Home (Parenting and Children in the Lesbian and Gay Communities)
edited by Cindy Rizzo, Jo Schniederman, Lisa Schweig, Jan Shafer, Judith Stein
New Victoria Publishers, 1995
A collection of short fiction covering the years of childhood and various topics. The stories are short and readable. Something for everyone.
- Tommy Stands Alone
Pinata Books, 1995
Told through two perspectives—Tommy's and the family therapist, Ms. Martinez—the story tells of Tommy and his family dealing with Tommy being gay. This is an Hispanic family and the story includes some Spanish. Not terrifically written but engaging. The two narrators provide a nice touch.
- Counter Play (The Truth About Alex)
Signet Books, 1981
A football quarterback learns his best friend and teammate is gay. A nice story from a straight, European-American perspective about friendship and values. This was also an HBO movie several years ago.
- Trying Hard to Hear You
Harper & Row, 1974
Despite being 22 years old, this book is still a good read. It was one of the first books I read, and I still remember it. The characters are well developed and the book does try to link oppressions. A group tries to respond to two people who are gay and to the violence that happens to them.
- The Man Without A Face
Harper Keypoint, 1972
Forget the movie. Mel Gibson changed it a lot. The book, the first children's book of its kind (1972) is typical of the time. Still because it was the first, it makes for a nice contrast when reading later material. And it is well-written. A young European-American male figures out the confusion in his life.
Houghton Mifflin, 1993
Award winning Australian coming out book of a youth who discovers his attraction for another male youth. Good story of the pressures of a heterosexist society to conform.
- Happy Endings Are All Alike
Laurel-Leaf Books, 1978
Nearly twenty years old, two lesbian youth must deal not only with heterosexism and homophobia but sexism as well. Dated, but still true that lesbian youth are seen as objects by some straight male youth. Sometimes hard to read.
- Deliver Us From Evie
Harper Trophy, 1994
A novel about being lesbian (European-American) in a small rural community. Kerr is an excellent writer, and the good news here is that no one dies at the end. A good reminder that their being b/g/l/t is affected by the culture where the person is located.
Aly Cat, 1981
Set in an "all-girls" school, the lives of two young European-American women pass with less than ideal consequences. The portrayal of Lexie as dangerous and unreliable is particularly good.
- Fairy Tales
Harper San Francisco, 1995
These fairy tales are contemporized and adapted so that gay men have stories that tell their stories. Strictly for older readers, they are thought provoking and often fun.
- Dance On My Grave
Harper Trophy, 1982
Well-written, fast paced story of adolescent love. Provides a different picture of what we often see on the news. Deals with controversial subjects well. European-American.
Books for Youth—Nonfiction
- Damned Strong Love
Lutz Van Dijk translated by Elizabeth Crawford)
Henry Holt, 1995
Wow. This is the true story of Stephan K., a Polish youth in the resistance movement and Willi G., an Austrian airman who meet and fall in love in World War II. Haunting and compelling, the book chronicles their relationship as they meet, fall in love, and then are discovered by the Nazis. The book ends with Stephan K. giving an update as to what happened to him since World War II. You won't put it down and you won't forget.
- Two Teenagers In Twenty
edited by Ann Heron
Written by lesbian and gay youth, the book offers narratives of their experiences in the world. Each narrative is short, engaging, and highly readable. The writers span the continent (there's even a Canadian), races, ages, and settings (rural, suburban, urban). This is an update from One Teenager in Ten written in the early 80's.
- Being Different (Lambda Youths Speak Out)
Larry Dane Brimner
Franklin Walks, 1995
More good narratives on different issues by youth. There is also a very helpful resource guide in the back. Issues like school, coming out, and being different are explored.
- The Journey Out (A Guide for and About Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teens)
Rachel Police and Sherry Stewards
An excellent comprehensive guide for all. The information is clear and helpful. The topics range from identity to health and religion—among others. Unfortunately, UUism is not mentioned. Otherwise it's very good. There's also a resource list at the back.
- Joining The Tribe (Growing Up Gay and Lesbian in the 90's)
Anchor Books, 1995
Various essays about gay and lesbian youth in the 90's. The essays are longer but highly interesting and very real. Good reading, particularly for older youth. Spans the continent in terms of geography.
- Over The Rainbow (Money, Class, and Homophobia)
London: Pluto Press, 1995
Provocative book that connects our economic structure with being b/g/l/t. For more advanced readers, the book does a good job of showing how our current system works against equality in monetary ways.
- Young, Gay, and Proud
edited by Alyson Publications
This is a good beginning for people who are just coming out. Easy to read, the book provides a good overview of information.
- When Someone You Know Is Gay
Susan and Daniel Cohen
Another overview of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender life. The book also covers history and transgender concerns. There are good resources at the back—including films.
- Understanding Sexual Identity (A book for gay and lesbian teens and their friends)
Janice E. Rench
Lerner Publications, 1990
A short resource book for people to use. Done in question and answer form, the book is an easy read and guide.
- Free Your Mind (The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies)
Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman
Harper Perennial, 1996
This book is a great resource for both youth and anyone who works with youth. It focuses on Self-Discovery, Friends and Lovers, Family, School, Spirituality, and Community. Includes many personal testimonies from youth, some Unitarian Universalists.
- Lives of Notable Gays and Lesbians (James Baldwin)
Chelsea House, 1994
Part of a series, this biography is different in that it does not hide Baldwin's affectional/sexual orientation. Others already in print or to be printed include: Jane Addams, Alvin Ailey, Willa Cather, Marlene Dietrich, E.M. Forster, Federico Garcia Lorca, Lorraine Hansberry, Edith Head, Rock Hudson, Elton John, John Meaynard Keynes, K.D. Lang, T.E. Lawrence, Liberace, Audre Lorde, Carson McCullers, Harvey Milk, Gabriela Mistral, Martina Navratilova, Mary Renault, Bayard Rustin, Sappho, Bessie Smith, Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, and Virginia Woolf.
- Reflections Of A Rock Lobster
The story from the late 70's of Aaron, who wanted to take a male date to the prom. Aaron was one of the first and garnered national attention. Easy to read and enjoyable.
- Sudden Strangers (The Story of a Gay Son and His Father)
Aaron Fricke and Walter Fricke
St. Martin Press, 1991
The struggles and concerns from 2 different viewpoints about having a gay person in one's family. The book is helpful in that one gets to read the thinking of two different perspectives. European-American.
- Hearing Us Out: Voices from the Gay and Lesbian Community
Little Brown and Company, 1994
Fifteen cross-cultural, multi-cultural narratives from the gay and lesbian community. Spanning generations, communities, and experiences; the stories are moving and informative. Great resource.
Other Related Books—Youth
- When Plague Strikes (The Black Death, Smallpox, and AIDS)
James Cross Gilbin
Harper Collins, 1995
Stunning histories of four diseases/plagues and the similarities that have happened throughout the years. Readable and highly informative, this book is terrific as analysis of human behavior. This is an important and significant book.
- The Other Victims (First Person Stories of Non-Jews Persecuted by the Nazis)
The book chronicles through story the other folks seen as inferior by the Germans during World War II. Sadly, there is no story for gays or lesbians, but there is information. The information makes for good history of the "175"-ers of the time.
- Finding Your Way (A Book About Sexual Ethics)
Susan Nieberg Terkel
Franklin Watts, 1995
An inclusive book that details information and options for you concerning sexual ethics. Often a positive turn on ethics and responsibility regarding sexuality is not a part of the discussion in terms of b/g/l/t youth.
- My Two Uncles
Albert Whitman & Co., 1995
Elly has two favorite uncles who are partners. For her grandparents 50th anniversary party she and her uncles constructed a diorama. But Grampa doesn't want one of the uncles to come. This story educates about gays and lesbians and families and a conflict that often happens. European-American.
- Heather Has Two Mommies
A simple story of a child with two European-American lesbian parents. Direct and clear.
- How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay?
Ann Heron & Meredith Maran
Longer story of two families, one African-American with two gay parents, the other European-American with a lesbian mother and the children dealing with a homophobic, heterosexist world. Does a good job of naming often unspoken emotions.
- Uncle What-Is-It Is Coming to Visit
A good book to deal with the stereotypes of homophobia as two European-American children learn their gay uncle is coming to visit. An older boy describes all the stereotypes and frightens the children about their uncle—until they talk to their mom and meet him.
- The Duke Who Outlawed Jellybeans And Other Stories
Five stories with a fairy tale feel that are told with the child or children living in families with same gender parents. The stories are generally engaging and the parents are portrayed as parents first and being gay or lesbian is noted but not overly dramatized. Mainly European-American.
- Asha's Mums
Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse
Women's Press, 1990
An African-American child has trouble getting permission to go on a field trip because her permission slip is signed by her two mothers. Clearly points out the heterosexist nature of institutions like schools and how that can affect children. Simple yet effective story.
- Daddy's Roommate
The story of a boy who learns his father is gay and has a male partner and what that means to him. Simple and clear. European-American.
- Daddy's Marriage
The sequel to Daddy's Roommate. Daddy and his partner have a ceremony of union. Agasin told through the child's perspective, who gets to be a best man. Also of note, the minister is female and Michael Willhoite is a Unitarian Universalist.
- Gloria Goes To Gay Pride
Gloria accompanies her two mothers to the gay and lesbian pride parade. She learns about b/g/l/t culture and homophobia. Told from a child's point of view and without a heterosexist overtone. European-American.
- Too Far Away To Touch
Clarion Books, 1995
A young European-American girl learns her uncle has AIDS. The book never mentions he's gay but does include his male partner. Zoe deals with a sense of loss while her uncle is still around.
- Saturday Is Pattyday
New Victoria Publishers, 1993
An interesting book about visitation when a lesbian couple "divorces". Patty visits one mother on Saturdays which become known as Pattydays. Important because it reaches a topic rarely talked about. European-American.
- Losing Uncle Tim
Albert Whitman & Co., 1989
A young European-American boy deals with losing his uncle to AIDS. A nice book and the author works for hospice which inspired the story. Deals effectively with fear and loss.
Less Direct, But Also of Interest:
A delightfully subversive book about diversity and community. While not "gay" in anyway, the book's message about the importance of the arts and the fact the artist is male improve the odds on diverse thinking for children.
- Frank And Ernest
Again no overt gayness here, but Frank and Ernest do everything together. They can be assumed to be a couple and act like one. Plus the language plays are hilarious and children will enjoy them.
- Frank And Ernest Play Ball
Another Frank and Ernest entry. The book also educates about baseball which Frank and Ernest know very little about.
- Oliver Button Is A Sissy
A good message on gender roles and about being true to one's self. Oliver is more interested in the arts than sports. European-American.
- The Story of Ferdinand
Delightful story of bull who is different from what people expect. Considered subversive at the time of publication, the book has strong messages abouth authenticity and identity and self-understanding.
- It's Perfectly Normal
Robie H. Harris
Candlewick Press, 1994
An outstanding sexuality education book. Speaks openly of affectional/sexual orientation and presents excellent information. A terrific resource.
- A Family Is A Circle of People Who Love You
Doris Jasinek and Pamela Bell Ryan
Camp Care Publications, 1988
A good book to explore the meaning of family. The book offers many options and can lead to a good discussion about what a family is and the various ways people define it.