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Read the Rainbow: 30 Books in Honor of Pride Month

June is Pride Month, which means honoring the lives and contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community. While these days, we often think of Pride as a joyous and jubilant celebration of the queer community, the origins of Pride come from resistance and rebellion at the Stonewall Inn. If you are a bookworm like me, then you know reading, books, and knowledge can be its own form of resistance. With that, we are sharing 30 books for readers of all ages spanning from fiction and nonfiction. Obviously, this list is by no means exhaustive, but it will hopefully be a starting point to adding more books from queer authors. 

Pride-FULL Children’s Literature

I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel

I Am Jazz Book Cover

From the age of two, Jazz knew she was a girl despite having a boy’s body. She loved the color pink and dressing up as a mermaid. Jazz never felt like herself while wearing boys’ clothing. Jazz’s behavior confused her family until they learned she was born transgender. 

George by Alex Gino 

When people look at George, they see a boy, but George knows she’s a girl. George thinks she will have to keep this secret forever until George’s teacher announces their class play will be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, really wants to play Charlotte, but the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part. With the help of her best friend Kelly, George comes up with the perfect plan to not only play Charlotte but to let everyone know who she is once and for all. 

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

While riding home on the subway with his abuela, Julián  is mesmerized by three spectacularly dressed women with colorful hair and dresses that flare into fishtails. When Julián gets home, he can’t take his mind off what he has seen and decides to make a mermaid costume of his own using the periwinkle curtains for his tail and the fronds from a potted plant for his headdress. But what will abuela think of the mess Julián has made? More importantly, what will she think of how Julián sees himself?

My Two Dads and Me / My Two Moms and Me by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Izak Zenou

Families with parents of the same gender are celebrated in these companion board books for babies and toddlers featuring diverse loving families with two dads (or two moms). Following a typical day in the life of these families from eating breakfast and getting ready for a busy day to settling in for the evening with bath time and lullabies. 

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, Illustrated Steven Salenrno

This picture book tells the story of the Gay Pride Flag from its humble beginnings in 1978 with activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to today where its easily recognized around the world as a symbol of love, hope, equality, and pride. 

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, Illustrated by Kristyna Litten

This Day in June welcomes young readers to experience a pride celebration along with a Reading Guide full of LGBT history and culture. To help facilitate conversation, the book provides a note to parents and caregivers with information to talk to children about gender identity and sexual orientation 

Pride Month Books for Young Readers

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great is Not Okay Book Cover

Darius speaks better Klingon than Farsi and knows more about Hobbit culture than about Persian social norms. Now Darius is about to take his first trip to Iran where he will get to know his ailing grandfather, loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s side of the family for the first time. Then he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything. 

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie loves theater, but she can’t really sing, so she decides to be the set designer for the drama department stage crew for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. Callie is determined to create a Broadway-worthy set, but she doesn’t know much about carpentry, and the crew is having trouble working together. The onstage and offstage drama after two cute brothers enter the picture doesn’t help.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

When a tornado destroys Ivy Aberdeen’s home, her family of five are immediately displaced. In the aftermath of the storm, Ivy feels ignored and invisible. What’s worse is her notebook full of girls holding hands has disappeared. Soon, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker along with notes encouraging her to open up about her identity. Will Ivy have the strength to reveal her true self?

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Being a girl isn’t easy for Lily Jo McGrother when you look like a boy, especially in the eighth grade. Life isn’t easy for Norbert “Dunkin” Dorfman who is not only dealing with bipolar disorder, but has just moved away from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the last 13 years. When Lily and Dunkin meet on one summer morning, their lives change forever.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

After her strict, religious mother catches Audre with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter, Audre is sent to live in America with her father. While Audre is despondent, her grandmother Queenie assures Audre that she won’t lose her Trinidadian roots. In Minneapolis, Mabel is trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels about her ex Terrell, her girl Jada, and that moment they had in the woods when her father announces his friend and his daughter who just arrived from Trinidad are coming to dinner. Mabel quickly falls for Jada, but their romance takes a turn when Mabel learns why she’s been feeling sick all summer. 

Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father. Now, she lives in Maine with her aunts. Zenobia used to spend most of her time behind the screen improving her coding skills. People used to tell her she’s a boy. Now, Zenobia is able to live openly as a girl. Now she’s coming out of her shell at her new school and discovering a community of friends. When someone posts hateful memes on the Monarch Middle School website, Zenobia knows she has the ability to find the anonymous bully. 

Must-Read Memoirs for Pride Month

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

All Boys Aren't Blue Book Cover

Through a series of essays covering topics like gender identity, toxic masculinity, and Black joy, 

journalist and activist George M. Johnson explores his life from childhood and coming of age to his college years. Not only is All Boys Aren’t Blue a reassuring testimony for young queer boys of color, this young-adult memoir is a primer for teens seeking to be allies for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Being Jazz: My Life As a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

At a time, Jazz Jennings was one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion on gender identity. With the support of her parents, Jazz transitioned to live as a girl at the age of five. After Jazz shared her journey with Barbara Walters in a groundbreaking interview, she became one of the most recognizable activists for transgender, kids, teens, and adults. 

The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman

The fight for equality for gay, lesbian, and transgender people is one of today’s most important civil rights issues. The Gay Revolution tells the story of the struggle for LGBTQ rights from the members of the community who faced the challenges every day from the 1950s to the present. 

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones

How to Fight for Our Lives Book Cover

From award-winning poet Saeed Jones comes a beautiful and powering coming-of-age memoir about a young, Black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve his place not only within in his family, but within society at large. Through a series of vignettes, Jones brings the reader across the American landscape through his adolescent experiences with family, friends, strangers, and lovers. Each piece builds a larger examination of race, power, love, queerness, and vulnerability that will leave the reader with a portrait of what we do for one another and to one another during our journey to become our truest selves. 

In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado

After years of struggling to articulate her experiences from an abusive relationship with another woman, Machado finally tackles the dark and difficult subject in this candid and witty memoir using a series of narrative tropes like classic horror to create a unique piece of work that is destined to become a modern classic. 

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As a Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists. From her parents, Samra has internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger. When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a new host of challenges like bullying, racism, and an arranged marriage. From Samra’s journey to uncover the truth that has been within her all along comes this rallying cry for anyone who has felt out of place.

Fabulous Pride Month Fiction

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Exciting Times Book Cover

Ava moved from Dublin to Hong Kong to find happiness, but it isn’t working out so far. Ava spends her days teaching English to rich children and her nights avoiding her roommates in their cramped apartment. When Ava meets witty British banker Julian, she gets a shortcut to a lavish lifestyle. When Julian’s job takes him back to London, Julian is unsure about their relationship, which leaves an opening in Ava’s life (and heart) for Edith, a striking and ambitious Hong Kong-born lawyer. When Julian returns to Hong Kong, Ava must make the choice of returning to an easy life with Julian or take a leap with Edith. 

Memorial by Bryan Washington

Benson and Mike are two young men living together in Houston who have been together for a few years, but now they are not sure why they are still a couple. When Mike learns his estranged father is dying in Osaka shortly after his mother Mitsuko arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike drops everything to fly across the world to say goodbye. Back in Houston, Mitsuko and Benson live together as unconventional roommates. Both men will either change in ways that will bring them together or fracture everything they’ve ever known. 

Paper is White by Hilary Zaid

Ellen and her girlfriend want to get married, but Ellen can’t go through the wedding until she tells her grandmother. The only problem is Ellen’s grandmother is dead. As these two women forge their own path toward marriage, Ellen begins a clandestine entanglement with a Holocaust survivor who is full of secrets. 

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

The Prettiest Star Book Cover

Small-town Appalachia doesn’t have much going for it, but it is Brian’s hometown, and it is also where he has chosen to die. At 18, Brian arrived in New York City ready to embrace his new freedom and forget his past. However, within six short years, he has lost his lover, friends, and future to AIDS. With nothing left in New York but memories of death, Brian decides to return to the home and family he once was so desperate to escape.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

As a queer, introverted, young Black man from Alabama, Wallace is at odds with almost everything at the Midwestern university where he is currently working towards a degree in biochemistry. Although Wallace has left his family behind, he has not been able to escape the long shadows of his childhood. However, a series of confrontations with colleagues and an unexpected encounter with a straight, white classmate conspire to fracture his defenses and expose long-hidden secrets.

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

When Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, the tabloids declare them a couple. As gossip spreads, the scandal starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi start following them. Coworkers treat them differently. While a “source” feeds information to the media, their only comment is “no comment.” As the women start to spend more time together, they begin to realize the rumor might not have been off base, is acting on a spark worth fanning the gossip flames?

Poetry and Pride

Black Queer Hoe by Britteney Black Rose Kapri

Black Queer Hoe Book Cover

Women’s sexuality is often used as a weapon against them. In her powerful debut, Kapri explores the ongoing conversation about the line between sexual freedom and sexual exploitation in a world that refuses Black Queer women the permission to define their own lives and identities.

Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix

In this an anthem of survival, Felix interrogates generational trauma, the possibility of healing, and the messiness that comes with survival. 

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Smith wastes no time in bringing groundbreaking force through deft lyrics in the opening poem that imagines an afterlife for Black men shot by police where suspicion and violence are replaced with the love and safety they deserved on Earth. This ambitious and powerful collection of poetry often confronts and rebukes America where every day is too often a funeral and not often a miracle for those who are not white. 

HoodWitch by Faylita Hicks

HoodWitch Book Cover

HoodWitch is the riveting debut about Black women and nonbinary people whose bodies have often been used as weapons against them reclaiming their power. Hicks speaks about giving her child up for adoption, mourning the death of her fiancé, and embracing a nonbinary femme body while perservering in the face of violence on all fronts. Additionally, the collection explores the intersection of Christianity, Afrocentrism, and modern mythicism within both natural and urban settings. In HoodWitch, one can be both dead and alive, both mortal and god. 

Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color by Christopher Soto (Editor)

In 2014, Christopher Soto and the Lambda Literary Foundation founded the online journal Nepantla with the mission to nurture, celebrate, and preserve diversity within the queer poetry community. Now Nepantla appears for the first time in print as a survey of queer poets throughout American history including Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Danez Smith, Erika L. Sanchez, and Pat Parker.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Vuong’s first full-length collection of poems covers big and very human subjects like romance, family, grief, and war.

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