Something that makes me SO happy is seeing diverse rep in books. It’s so important that books reflect the reality we live in, and it’s especially important for middle grade readers–in such a formative period of their lives–to read books that celebrate diversity. Today I’m starting a sort-of series on my blog, highlighting some of my middle grade favourite books that feature an LGBTQA+ identified main character.
1 // BETTER NATE THAN EVER (BETTER NATE THAN EVER #1) BY TIM FEDERLE
Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.
This book just oozes charm. I have a weakness for stories that involve kids on their own, hilarious hijinks, and New York. BETTER NATE THAN EVER combines all three of these, along with a beautifully written coming of age story where Nate is slowly but surely figuring out who he is. I adored the fact that the show Nate is auditioning for is E. T.: The Musical (seriously, why is that not a thing already??), and this whole story just gave me movie-you-loved-as-a-kid vibes. I felt a kind of nostalgia whilst reading it, and yet there was something so fresh and original about this story. It was fantastically funny, and also seriously moving, which is basically the kid lit jackpot, IMHO.
2 // IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD BY ASHLEY HERRING BLAKE
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.
Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
I am not a crier, but this book made me ball. If I had to pick one world to describe it, I would say it was poignant. Ivy’s story is SO needed, and I adored the window into her world that this story gave us. It’s full of stress and fear and doubts and love and acceptance, in a beautifully subtle way. It’s also a great middle grade story about a girl who likes girls. Whilst I think that all rep is important, I feel like there’s less middle grade LGBT stories about girls (if you have any recs, leave them in the comments!). This story very much feels like a trauma
3 // LUMBERJANES BY SHANNON WATTERS, NOELLE STEVENSON, KAT LEYH, GRACE ELLIS, CAREY PIETSCH, MAARTA LAIHO AND BROOKE A. ALLEN
Knot on your life!
All is fair in love and badges! Or so April, Jo, Mal, Molly, and Ripley thought until they met the mysterious counselor, Seafarin’ Karen. When the Lumberjanes decide it’s time to learn more about the theatrical yet intriguing counselor, things take a turn for the strange. Between a sudden storm hitting the camp, shapeshifters, and strange portals,
this is one badge that the Lumberjanes must go above and beyond for.
This New York Times bestseller and multiple Eisner Award-winning series is written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh(Super Cakes) and illustrated by Carey Pietsch (Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift).
Collects issues 21-24.
LUMBERJANES is a graphic novel series that combines gorgeous art, supernatural creatures and magic aplenty, and also celebrates female friendship. It’s just gloriously upbeat and optimistic, and every time I read an issue, it makes me super happy. This is a great series for readers who are a little unsure, and those who are confident. Every adventure the Lumberjanes have is fun, entertaining and mysterious, and it’s those three elements that makes this graphic novel series unputdownable. Another great element–this serious is full of LGBTQ+ characters. Of the main characters, two are in a lesbian relationship, and one has just come out as transgender. It’s a celebration of finding yourself and your sexuality, and it’s absolutely brilliant. This has to be–hands down–my favourite graphic novel series.
4 // GEORGE BY ALEX GINO
BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to 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… because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
This book is about a transgender girl who wants to play the character of Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. This story is so powerfully written, in a way that is emotionally powerful AND assessable for young readers. I adored the use of female pronouns for out, as well as the connection to one of my favourite books–Charlotte’s Web. Again, this is a great book for younger/reluctant readers.
5 // DEATH IN THE SPOTLIGHT (MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE #7) BY ROBIN STEVENS
Someone will take their final bow . . .
Fresh from their adventure in Hong Kong, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells are off to the Rue Theatre in London to face an entirely new challenge: acting.
But the Detective Society is never far away from danger, and it’s clear there’s trouble afoot at the Rue.
Jealousy, threats and horrible pranks quickly spiral out of control – and then a body is found.
Now Hazel and Daisy must take centre stage and solve the crime . . . before the murderer strikes again.
I can’t tell you how happy this book makes me. The MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE series is one of my favourite series of all time. Set in the 1930s, it follows two schoolgirls (Hazel + Daisy) who solve murders. And. It. Is. Amazing. Obviously, you get to read the other six books before you get to the seventh, but when you get here you will be treated to a gorgeously understated coming out scene. I can’t wait to see how the story progresses from here on out. Also, this series is diverse in other ways–a MC who is Chinese, great critique on racism and the British Empire. It’s fantastic. I urge you to read this fabulous series ASAP.