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The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association are pleased to offer the 2020 Rainbow Project bibliography of recommended titles for youth from birth to age 18 that contain significant and authentic gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (GLBTQ) content. Titles published in late 2018 are noted; all others were published in 2019. Below are 10 exceptional choices from the list. For the complete list, visit glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/archives/1331.
Brave Face. By Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $18.99 (9781534431515).
Hutchinson explores growing up, discovering his sexual identity and facing life-threatening depression in this memoir of his teen and young adult years. Hutchinson survives a suicide attempt and embarks on a journey of recovery and self-acceptance in these honest and, at times, humorous recollections.
The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali. By Sabina Khan. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338227017).
Rukhsana, a Bangladeshi American teenager, must balance her life between conservative Muslim parents and her friends who don’t understand her family and culture. Rukhsana knows her family will not approve of her love life—she’s secretly dating a girl. Her parents discover the relationship and send her to relatives in Bangladesh to marry a nice young Bengali man. Rukhsana finds unlikely allies as she carves out her own path to live the way she chooses.
Mooncakes. By Suzanne Walker. Illus. by Wendy Xu. Lion Forge/Roar, $14.99 (9781549303043).
Nova is a young witch who wears a hearing aid and lives with her two grandmothers. Tam is a nonbinary werewolf on the run from their stepdad. The two, who were childhood friends, reconnect and soon romance is in the air.
The Music of What Happens. By Bill Konigsberg. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99 (9781338215502).
A chance encounter leads Max to help Jordan run a quirky food truck, which may be the only thing keeping Jordan and his severely depressed mother from becoming homeless. Max is hiding his own trauma, while Jordan is struggling with the responsibility of taking care of his mother and the resentment he feels toward his two best friends. Opposites attract as they struggle to face their demons. A 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
On a Sunbeam. By Tillie Walden. Illus. by the author. 2018. First Second, $21.99 (9781250178138).
This romantic space adventure spans the halls of the boarding school where Mia and Grace fell in love and the ancient structures on distant planets in the far reaches of the galaxy. When they’re separated under mysterious circumstances, Mia is determined to reunite with Grace—and she will brave anything to find her again.
Pet. By Akwaeke Emezi. Random/Make Me a World, $17.99 (9780525647072).
In Jam and Redemption’s hometown of Lucille, there are no monsters anymore—or so they’ve always been taught. But when a creature emerges from Jam’s mother’s painting and claims it’s here to hunt a monster, Jam and Redemption must reconsider what they thought they knew, and answer the question: How do you hunt monsters if no one will admit they even exist? A 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
A Plan for Pops. By Heather Smith. Illus. by Brooke Kerrigan. Orca, $19.95 (9781459816145).
Saturdays are special for Lou and Lou’s grandparents, Grandad and Pop. When Pop loses the ability to walk, he doesn’t want to leave his room, but Lou comes up with a plan to help!
Stonewall: A Building, an Uprising, a Revolution. By Rob Sanders. Illus. by Jamey Cristoph. Random, $17.99 (9781524719524).
The historic Stonewall Inn narrates its own history as well as the subsequent 1969 uprising. Includes a short essay about the Stonewall Inn, photographs, interview with activist Martin Boyce, glossary, and a bibliography.
We Set the Dark on Fire. By Tehlor Kay Mejia. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062691316).
Daniela Vargas is the Medio School for Girls’ top student, and upon her graduation, she’s guaranteed a life of comfort and luxury as she’s picked to be one of two wives to the city’s most promising young bachelor. As Primera, she’s been through years of rigid training, but nothing prepares her for the decisions she’ll have to make after her marriage—especially not when she’s asked to spy for the resistance, or when she finds herself falling for someone forbidden. A 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults, a 2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project Top 10.
When Aidan Became a Brother. By Kyle Lukoff. Illus. by Kaylani Juanita. Lee & Low, $18.95 (9781620148372).
This heartwarming picture book from an #OwnVoices trans author and an #OwnVoices illustrator of color explores what it’s like for Aidan when his parents expect a new baby. He wants to ensure everything will be just right for his younger sibling. Aidan knows that sometimes grown-ups can make mistakes, like when his parents thought he was a girl when he was born. As Aidan prepares for his role as big brother, he realizes that mistakes can be fixed with open communication. A 2020 Notable Children’s Book.
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