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Middle-grade books with queer representation

This is Tory's ongoing list of *good* middle-grade books with queer representation. There are plenty of other MG queer books out there that Tory hasn't read, and there are plenty of MG queer books that Tory has read but didn't think they were *good enough* to recommend. She stands behind all of these options! She considers all of these books to be age-appropriate for mid/upper elementary students, but parents/guardians/teachers should use their own discretion, as every child and family situation is different.

The List of Things That Will Not Change Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101938126
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yearling - April 5th, 2022

two dads


Unf but seriously, these are the books everyone needs to read. Everyone who worries; everyone learning about themselves; everyone who has good friends and bad days and picks themselves up and who keep going. So so so much of this is applicable to so many people. "What does a feeling feel like?" Think it through. Learn yourself. REBECCA STEAD, HOW DO YOU DO IT???

"' might as well know right now that there are people who will try to make you choose between who you are and who they want you to be.'"

This is such a fantastic book for middle-graders learning how to process complex emotions. It would be a great read-aloud for younger kids, too -- start that dialogue early! And the lovely queer storyline is icing on the cake; great discussions about acceptance and mixed families and love and reconciliation. SO GOOD.

Fifty-Four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062996640
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Published: Quill Tree Books - November 8th, 2022

nonbinary side character

After finding a report that lists the 54 things "wrong" with her, Gwendolyn is bound and determined to fix her problems. You will laugh and cry and RAGE with her as she tries and tries again to "be good," and you'll come out the other side being a braver, stronger advocate for inclusivity and understanding -- since the only thing "wrong" with Gwen is a society that tries to fit everyone into a tiny box. Caela Carter is an expert at relatable, lovable characters negotiating timely, real-world challenges. I'm calling it right now: this is going to be a Newbery winner.

A-Okay Cover Image
By Jarad Greene, Jarad Greene (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780063032859
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Published: HarperAlley - November 2nd, 2021

asexual main character

(Note: this one skews a little bit older.) A very sweet, relatable semi-autobiographical graphic novel about an 8th grader with severe acne and the journey through Accutane. Absolutely spot-on! He's also exploring and coming to understand his asexuality. Love the representation!

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062796790
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Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 18th, 2022

two moms

What I liked: the caring nature of the whole town; queer representation; the goddesses!

Lily and Dunkin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553536775
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Published: Yearling - May 1st, 2018

MTF trans main character

Very earnest and sweet! (TW for repeated use of the f-slur.)

How to Become a Planet Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643752617
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Published: Algonquin Young Readers - April 19th, 2022

F/F queer discovery/gentle experimentation


Really honest and so realistic. The first MG account of depression I've read that focuses on the kid's depression, rather than an older relative/friend, and doesn't sugarcoat it. And some very gentle, sweet queer exploration! 

The Ship We Built Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780525554851
Published: Dial Books - May 25th, 2021

gender discovery/fluidity

There's so much beautiful here. There's so much deep, poetic, insightful, sit-back-and-take-notice here. But, my biggest concern is, I almost feel like it should've been marketed as an adult title, a la "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time": narrated by a kid, but for an adult audience. BUT, that's not to say it's thematically inappropriate (TW: although incest/sexual abuse makes an appearance) -- it's more along the lines of, I don't know if middle-grade readers will appreciate the beauty of its language and content. And this is yearning that deserves to be appreciated! A large part of WHY I liked it so much is because of this introspective tone and tenor, but I don't know if it's a book that would appeal to others (particularly kids) who might not enjoy a book purely for that beautiful wistful shoegazey vibe.

End result: it's beautiful. It's gorgeous and deceptively simplistic. Adults should definitely read it, slowly. Hand it to kids who love language -- and of COURSE to trans kids.

Pet Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593175446
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - January 19th, 2021

MTF main character

Fantastic, perfectly-done #OwnVoices representation that wasn't the focus of the story but just enriched it (LIKE REAL LIFE, m'friends!) and lovely writing with evocative vocab, but overall, felt fable-y (predictable), rushed once Pet arrived, and simplistic by the end. I could probably even recommend this for the higher end of middle-grades (both 6th and 7th grades) without worrying too much about the language or subject matter. In fact, going to go ahead and shelve it as such.

Birdie and Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399186783
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Published: Puffin Books - February 16th, 2021

gender-fluid/creative younger brother

Very sweet story, with realistic, flawed characters trying their best in tough situations. A lot of heart and empathy.

The Best at It Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062866424
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Published: Balzer + Bray - October 6th, 2020

gay main character

An absolutely precious story! Racial, cultural, and sexual identities all handled with perfect poise. I'm typically very hesitant about going too far into sexual orientation in middle-years books, but this was exactly the right level of discussion in an incredibly accessible manner. Humor, heart, and growth.

Freeing Finch Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250293749
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Starscape - October 6th, 2020

MTF trans main character


A surprising amount of nuance, especially for a MG book! Characters with both good and bad qualities. It really felt like these were real people trying to do the right thing (the father figure in particular), and maybe making mistakes, but that's life. And some truly excellent trans representation.

The Paris Project Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781534440876
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - October 6th, 2020

gay best friend

Cute, charming, and funny. Deals with an incarcerated parent and a friend coming to terms with their sexuality in an easy-to-digest way for middle-grade readers.

Alan Cole Is Not a Coward Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780062567048
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - September 4th, 2018

gay main character

A great story of a middle-school gay kid and what that means: the crush-stage of attraction through another's eyes. I really enjoyed its message. Humorous and big-hearted. (TW: familial abuse and bullying)

To Night Owl From Dogfish Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525553243
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Rocky Pond Books - April 28th, 2020

gay dads

Funny, cute, excellent voice, lots of fun!

The Stars Beneath Our Feet Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524701277
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Published: Yearling - January 8th, 2019

two moms

Drama: A Graphic Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781338801897
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graphix - December 7th, 2021

gay side character

A fun, fast read!

Ana on the Edge Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316458627
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 19th, 2021

NB/genderqueer/exploring protagonist; FTM trans side character

No discussion of sexuality -- just gender identity. Great for middle-grades!

Fight + Flight Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063053946
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - May 24th, 2022

Sapphic story; MTF trans mother; two moms; disability rep (hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome); character with anxiety/panic attacks

TW: active shooter drill



Anne: An Adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (Sort Of) Cover Image
By Kathleen Gros, Kathleen Gros (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780063057654
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - October 25th, 2022


(yeah I think she always did but I definitely didn't clue in on it in the original book *blush*)