They say you always remember your first. In my case, that is definitely true. I was 22 years old.
I read Counter Play (later retitled The Truth About Alex), by Anne Snyder in the spring of 1988, my last year of college and the year I moved from Miami, to Washington D.C. The ostensibly middle grade novel (much too tame to be considered YA by today’s standards), was revolutionary for its time. It tells the story of the high school football quarterback who has to choose between his best-friend (the gay one), and his other friends (the rest of the football team). Yes, in today’s world this would, for most, be considered a no-brainer. But, in 1988 (and yes, still in certain segments of today’s society) the outcome of the story was uncertain. Would our hero choose Alex or the football team? Well, luckily for my namesake, he made the right choice. This novel was my introduction to LGBTQ+ themed literature. And, it was no accident. You see, I chose it to give to my best friend before I left for law school. It was my way of coming out to him. We had been friends since the First Grade. The fact that he came out to me about 12 years later, well, that’s another story.
Not exactly where you thought this was heading, was it? Here’s the deal. In the intervening 32 years since 1988, LGBTQ+ literature has exploded. You don’t have to wait until your 22 anymore to read books that are sensitive, funny, interesting, though-provoking and feature LGBTQ+ characters. Now, you can start reading them to your children at birth. Publishers have realized that there is a market out there for titles that are inclusive, and that that market is not exclusively limited to LGBTQ+ readers.
For our debut Rainbow Round Up, here are some of my favorites, as well as some new favorites that are coming up in the next few months. Click on the links for full reviews.
In Bookstores Now
Baking with Daddy, Cacciapuoti’s light-hearted look at baking a cake with Dad, is a frothy meringue of a book filled with cute doodles and vibrant illustrations. It helps you integrate your child into your kitchen routine and have fun at the same time! Left open, is for whom the cake is baked. An Uncle? Boyfriend? Suitor? Cousin?
We all know where the “Pink Aisle” is in the Department store. It’s in the toy section: and, it’s where you will find most of the toys for “girls.” Enter: Jamie is Jamie-A Book About Being Yourself and Playing Your Way–a book that will hopefully contribute in some way to ending the gendering of toys for children.
On the subway ride home, while perusing a book on Mermaids, Julián encounters three actual mermaids and seems mesmerized by them. So much so, in fact, that a dream sequence ensues where Julián becomes a mermaid. Julian is a Mermaid, a revolutionary book on family, acceptance and love.
A young girl posits that she should not have to choose between her two Fathers. She shouldn’t have to do so. Papa, Daddy & Riley, gives us a peek into what happens on Riley’s first day of school.
The other day at school, a classmate got angry at me and said ‘Clown!’ So begins My Dad is a Clown, and our entry into this black, white, grey and red world created by Andrés and Hernández, where a boy walks us through a few moments in his life and the impact his two dads have had on it.
Kelp, a Not Quite Narwhal, looks remarkably similar to his friends–similar that is, yet different. There is this odd bubble around his head, and his body isn’t shaped exactly the same way as everybody else’s. He doesn’t excel at the same things his friends do either. The great thing is though, nobody cares! His friends, all narwhals, love him just the way he is.
A Pink Monster, different since before birth, lives in a world devoid of color filled with colorless beings. She is much bigger than they are; in size and spirit. And, she is literally unable to fit-in with her surroundings because of her size.
Into every life, a little rain must fall. But, what if you are that rain? And nobody appreciates you? Sure, everybody likes sunshine. But let a rain cloud ruin your picnic, or flood your basement, or ruin your play date, and you are bound to be miffed. Such is the story of our hero, Rain Boy, a kid unlike any other.
The plot is a straight-forward one. A pencil, symbolic in that pencils are generally used to describe everything presented to the eyes, the heart and the mind, tells us the story of a crayon called Red. His name is Red, because he’s wrapped in a red wrapper. But, to anyone who can see beyond the wrappings, he’s a blue crayon with a red label.
Cedric grew and became a Knight in his own right. You know what comes next. He rescues a Kingdom from a dragon. And, a princess offers to marry him. So far, we have our average fairytale. Here’s where average stop. The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived, takes you on his journey.
Regardless of how it arises, it’s a question the couple, and their child(ren) inevitably face. Green’s book, Who’s Your Real Mom, posits the question innocently between friends at a playdate. The answer, is not so complicated. How Elvi, our protagonist gets there, well, that’s the story.
Coming Soon – Pre-order!
[Full Review will Publish Closer to Publication Date]
Jeremiah, visits his Dad for the Summer. Dad, as it turns out, has a live-in boyfriend who is constantly trying to ingratiate himself into Jeremiah’s life. Jeremiah, as most kids who are going through new circumstances, is none-to-pleased. No, the biggest twist is not that Dad has a boyfriend. Cranky neighbor, new best friend and a twist–all make Second Dad Summer a great Middle Grade read.
This graphic novel has all the makings of a soon to be animated television series. Sorceresses, goblins, ghosts, shopping malls gemstones and delightfully quirky grandmothers all come together to tell a funny, warm and yes, I’m going to say it, spellbinding story of preteen queer friendship. This is for the Middle Grade through adult set. You will want to pre-order. This one should sell out quickly. Beetle & The Hollowbones, left me wanting more. Layne needs to get started on a sequel ASAP!
What happens when you’re given a sourdough starter to take care of as a pet, even for a short period of time? Utter mayhem! How will this two-mom family cope? Hilariously well. Enter The Bread Pet (A Sourdough Story).
Aimed primarily at the youngest “readers,” the book provides a good introduction to the different types of families (My Family, Your Family!) that have existed for centuries in our world. In a simple expository format, basically show and tell, the book takes the child on a tour of various familial groupings.
Do you have a favorite you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments. If you know of an up-and-coming author we should follow, let us know that too!