Celebrate Pride: Books for Middle Grade Readers

by Morgan

The Iowa City Pride Fest & Parade is June 15th. This year ICPL is curating lists of LGBQTIA+ books to support Iowa City Pride. This list is a part of that series of recommendations.  These are some great titles to read together to explore LGBTQ issues or give to the kids in your life who need to see themselves in the books they are reading. Positive messages of inclusion and acceptance abound. 


Raina Telgemeier

Kids, Graphic Novels, LGBTQ+

Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.

One true way

Shannon Hitchcock

jFICTION Hitchcoc Shannon
Kids, Fiction, Historical Fiction

From the moment she met Samantha, star of the school basketball team, on her first day at Daniel Boone Middle School, Allison Drake felt she had found a friend, something she needs badly since her brother died and her father left--but as their friendship grows it begins to evolve into a deeper emotion, and in North Carolina in 1977, it is not easy to discover that you might be gay.


Alex Gino

jFICTION Gino Alex
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Knowing herself to be a girl despite her outwardly male appearance, George is denied a female role in the class play before teaming up with a friend to reveal her true self.

To Night Owl from Dogfish

Holly Goldberg Sloan

jFICTION Sloan Holly
Kids, Fiction

Unhappy about being sent to the same summer camp after their fathers start dating, Bett and Avery, two girls, age eleven, eventually begin scheming to get the couple back together after a break-up. Told entirely through letters, emails and text messages.

I love this updated take on "The Parent Trap" because Bett and Avery, the two girls at the heart of the story, don't want to become sisters, but find that the family you choose is just as important as the family you're born into.
- Morgan

Gracefully Grayson

Ami Polonsky

Kids, Fiction, Young Adult, LGBTQ+

"Grayson, a transgender twelve-year-old, learns to accept her true identity and share it with the world"--

Lily and Dunkin

Donna Gephart

jFICTION Gephart Donna
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

"Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth-grade. Norbert Dorfman, nicknamed Dunkin Dorfman, is bipolar and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change"--

Love, Penelope

Joanne Rocklin

jFICTION Rocklin Joanne
Kids, Fiction

Fifth-grader Penny writes a series of letters to her future sibling, including facts about their Oakland, California, home, questions about whether their moms will ever marry, and especially that he or she is loved.


jCOMIC Princeless
Kids, Graphic Novels, LGBTQ+, Fantasy

Join Princess Adrienne, one princess that's tired of waiting to be rescued. Follow along with her plucky sidekick Bedelia and her guardian dragon Sparky, as they begin a one of a kind quest to rescue her sisters!

Princess Princess ever after

Katie (Cartoonist) O'Neill

Kids, Graphic Novels, LGBTQ+, Fantasy

When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They'll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress with a dire grudge against Sadie. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means and how they can find it with each other.


Barbara Dee

jFICTION Dee Barbara
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

When Mattie is cast as Romeo in an eighth-grade play, she is confused to find herself increasingly attracted to Gemma, a new classmate who is playing Juliet.

P.S. I miss you

Jen Petro-Roy

jFICTION Petro-Roy Jen
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Forbidden to contact her pregnant sister after her strict Catholic parents send her to stay with a great-aunt, Evie secretly sends her letters, writing about their family, her life, and the new girl in school, June, who may be more than a friend.

The best man

Richard Peck

jFICTION Peck Richard
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

"Archer has four important role models in his life--his dad, his grandfather, his uncle Paul, and his favorite teacher, Mr. McLeod. When Uncle Paul and Mr. McLeod get married, Archer's sixth-grade year becomes one he'll never forget"--

The misadventures of the family Fletcher

Dana Levy

jFICTION Levy Dana
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Relates the adventures of a family with two fathers, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets as they make their way through a school year, Kindergarten through sixth grade, and deal with a grumpy new neighbor.

Totally Joe

James Howe

Kids, Young Adult, Fiction, LGBTQ+

As a school assignment, a thirteen-year-old boy writes an alphabiography--life from A to Z--and explores issues of friendship, family, school, and the difficulties of being a gay teenager.

The other boy

M. G Hennessey

jFICTION Hennesse M. G.
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Hiding his transgender identity behind a veneer of an everyday student who loves baseball and working on his graphic novel, Shane is threatened with exposure by a classmate and begins a painful journey toward acceptance and empathy.

Pride : celebrating diversity & community

Robin Stevenson

j306.76 Stevenson
Kids, Nonfiction, LGBTQ+

"This work of nonfiction for middle readers examines what -- and why -- gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their supporters celebrate on Pride Day every June"--Title page verso.

Gay & lesbian history for kids : the century-long struggle for LGBT rights, with 21 activities

Jerome Pohlen

j306.76 Pohlen
Kids, Nonfiction, LGBTQ+

"Who transformed George Washington's demoralized troops at Valley Forge into a fighting force that defeated an empire? Who cracked Germany's Enigma code and shortened World War II? Who successfully lobbied the US Congress to outlaw child labor? And who organized the 1963 March on Washington? Ls, Gs, Bs, and Ts, that's who...This up-to-date history includes the landmark Supreme Court decision making marriage equality the law of the land. Twenty-one activities enliven the history and demonstrate the spirited ways the LGBT community has pushed for positive social change."--Provided by publisher.

Felix Yz

Lisa Bunker

jFICTION Bunker Lisa
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Thirteen-year-old Felix Yz chronicles the final month before an experimental procedure meant to separate him from the fourth-dimensional creature, Zyx, with whom he was accidentally fused as a young child.

Ivy Aberdeen's letter to the world

Ashley Herring Blake

jFICTION Blake Ashley
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

"Twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen's house is destroyed in a tornado, and in the aftermath of the storm, she begins to develop feelings for another girl at school"--

Lumberjanes : unicorn power!

Mariko Tamaki

jFICTION Tamaki Mariko
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

"Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin--Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley--love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen. and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella's, where the woods contain endless mysteries. Today is no exception. When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the tallest mountain they've ever seen, things don't go quite as planned. For one, they didn't expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns"--

The Pants Project

Cat Clarke

jFICTION Clarke Cat
Kids, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Eleven-year-old Liv fights to change the middle school dress code requiring girls to wear a skirt and, along the way, finds the courage to tell his moms he is meant to be a boy.

Riding freedom

Pam Muñoz Ryan

jFICTION Ryan, Pam Munoz
Kids, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+

A fictionalized account of Charley (Charlotte) Parkhurst who ran away from an orphanage, posed as a boy, moved to California, and fooled everyone by her appearance.

Goldie Vance. Volume one

Hope Larson

jCOMIC Goldie
Graphic Novels, Kids, Mystery, Adventure, LGBTQ+

Move over Nancy, Harriet, & Veronica. There's a new sleuth on the block! Sixteen-year-old Marigold "Goldie" Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel's in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can't crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery.

Alan Cole doesn't dance

Eric Bell

jFICTION Bell Eric
Kids, Fiction

Alan Cole has a problem: Ron McCaughlin. Ever since Alan revealed he's gay, Ron has been bullying Alan with relentless fury. Alan can't tell his parents why he's really coming home with bruises--because they still don't know the truth about him. Yet buoyed by the support of his classmates and with his friends Zack and Madison by his side, Alan thinks he can withstand the bullying and--just maybe--break through to Ron. But all things come to a head when Alan's father asks that he take June Harrison to the upcoming Winter Dance. Never mind that Alan has two left feet, does not like girls, and might be developing feelings for a new boy at school. This resounding tale about friendship, family, and the many meanings of bravery will leave readers rooting for Alan and his gang of proud misfits once more.

Stonewall : a building, an uprising, a revolution

Rob Sanders

Kids, Nonfiction, History

Describes the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969, which sparked the gay liberation movement in the United States, and details the history of LGBTQ rights since the riots.