If you are looking for the very best LGBTQ books for middle schoolers, you are in the right place. From questioning to first crushes to meaningful new relationships, these LGBTQ novels for tweens totally rock. Check them out!
LGBTQ books for middle schoolers are vital lifelines for children
Some days, it seems we have come so far.
In our vibrant, large city, same-sex couples are nothing out of the ordinary. My kids are in classes with other children who have same-sex parents, they have seen other kids and teens in their lives come out, and they are totally and completely unfazed.
Other days, however, when I turn on the news or glance at social media, I know we still have so much work to do to ensure that all LGBTQ+ children and adults feel safe and valued.
Enter LGBTQ books for middle schoolers.
LGBTQ tween novels help kids feel seen
At an age where children often find themselves questioning who they are at their cores, it is no wonder that many tweens and teens feel alone and scared upon discovering they do not identify in the same way as their peers.
LGBTQ books for middle schoolers thus become lifelines for so many children.
- For tweens grappling with how they identify, discovering characters like them in stories is akin to finding a confidante. LGBTQ stories provide safe spaces for questioning tweens, helping them recognize they are not alone.
- For LGBTQ youth who encounter disapproval at home, books are often the only resource to provide them solace and support through a challenging time. This may in turn help prevent serious harm to a child’s mental health and self-esteem.
- For so many children, LGBTQ books offer positive and affirming representation, helping kids realize they can lead healthy, “normal” lives. These books connect LGBTQ youth to their community, increase their confidence, and show children that they belong no matter how they identify. They help kids recognize that they are worthy and valued.
The LGBTQ tween novels we’ve compiled below are those we hope will be affirming mirrors for questioning children and window books for others, showing tweens that love is love, and no matter how we identify, we are all special and so very important. These are books we hope will not only eradicate stigma but empower children to stay true to who they are.
For more information on supporting LGBTQ children at home or in your classrooms and communities, I encourage you to check out the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union on LGBT Youth.
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RELATED: If you want to know about the best books for 6th graders, be sure to check out this list!
Frequently Asked Questions
LGBTQ children’s books are critically important for children. They are vital lifelines for tweens and teens grappling with how they identify and who they have feelings for, for kids who struggle because their families look different from the “norm,” and for LGBTQ youth who are met with disapproval at home. These stories help children feel seen, safe, and less alone. These books are also important windows, even if you don’t identify as part of the LGBT community. It is critically important to support the notion that love is love. When we expose our children to all kinds of experiences and lifestyles, even those we may not personally adopt or comprehend, we teach them to treat all people with dignity.
I will forever love Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake. I love its authenticity, the main character’s displacement after a tornado, and the relationships throughout the story. It will forever hold a special place in my heart!
Absolutely! We have a great list of LGBTQ children’s books right here!
Our favorite LGBTQ books for middle schoolers
Ivy Aberdeen’s home is flattened by a tornado. As she flees, all she manages to save is her pillow. Thank goodness, because this pillow contains her most precious possessions – fancy markers and her drawing journal, which includes sketches of Ivy holding hands with an unidentifiable girl. But after the storm, Ivy’s notebook suddenly goes missing. When her pictures mysteriously begin showing up in her own locker, together with notes encouraging Ivy to be true to who she is, Ivy hopes the letters are coming from a girl on whom she has developed a secret crush. But is owning her truth and understanding her identity as easy as Ivy wants it to be? Ivy’s words and yearnings will be windows for some and mirrors for others, but her burning desire to understand who she is at her core will be loved and cherished universally. This is one of our favorite LGBTQ books for middle schoolers! Check out our full review of Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the world here!
Every once in a while, you come across a powerful, authentic, and moving book, one you keep thinking about long after you put it down. For me, this was that book. I read Those Kids From Fawn Creek in one hungry gulp, completely captivated by the ensemble cast including a boy coming to an understanding of who he is and who he wants to be and a new girl in town who throws off the rhythm of their seventh-grade classroom. With themes of authenticity, self-awareness, rumors, and identity, there is something for everyone here. From deception to dreams, bullying to bravery, this story set in a small town in Louisiana is one that every tween will relate to, devour, and think about long after the story has ended.
There are no words to adequately express my love for this book! This is the story of Lily, a transgender child who looks like a boy but knows she is really a girl, and Dunkin, a boy with bipolar disorder who just moved to Lily’s town. It is a story of the chance meeting between the two, their unlikely friendship, and being true to yourself despite naysayers who taunt and fear your differences. Sensitive, authentic, and as necessary as it is exceptional, this one has a place on every tween’s bookshelf. It challenges stigma, encourages truth, and will undoubtedly cause kids to stop and think before judging another’s choices. A remarkable LGBTQ book for middle schoolers!
I loved this relatable novel, told in alternating perspectives by tween boys whose stories pull you in from the first pages. Brian struggles with anxiety, and after trauma at home, he and his younger brother are placed in foster care and left to wonder whether their lives will ever be the same again. Popular Ezra knows Brian from the basketball team and wants to help him, but he worries his friends will notice that he feels something different for Brian — something more than just “friends.” Will Brian survive a mother struggling with mental health and a dad on the run? Will Ezra be accepted by his peers if his friends learn he is gay? This is such a fabulous book that I simply could not put down!
George knows she is not a boy, even if that’s all people see when they look at her. She knows she’s a girl. Though she once believed she would have to keep her secret forever, her plans change when her teacher announces they will put on a play of Charlotte’s Web. George wants to play Charlotte, and she wants it badly, yet her teacher says the role must be played by a girl, and, therefore, George can’t play the part. With the help of her best friend, George comes up with a plan to be Charlotte and to let everyone know who she is once and for all. A winner among my students!
Winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, this mind-blowing story leaves you simultaneously heartbroken and hopeful. King is a twelve-year-old Black boy grieving his older brother Khalid’s sudden death. King wishes he could spend time with his best friend Sandy, but just before Khalid died, Khalid made a grave statement to King: King should not hang out with Sandy, or others would begin to believe that King, like Sandy, is gay. King abides by Khalid’s warning until the day Sandy goes missing. King’s anger at himself for abandoning his friend and his feelings that he struggles to understand leave him reeling. Then King and Sandy reunite, and the result is a testament to love, authenticity, and truth. This one shook me to my core, and it’s hands down one of the best LGBTQ books for middle schoolers.
Book banning is gripping the United States, and this timely novel explores this topic in a sensitive manner. When Donovan left a copy of The Adventurers in the kitchen, he didn’t expect his mom to read it, much less have a problem with it. After all, it was just a cool book assigned for class! Yet Donovan’s mom takes issue with the two male main characters at the heart of the story. Believing the two boys are gay, she launches a crusade to have the book removed from the school curriculum, leaving Donovan stuck in the middle. Why does it matter whether the kids are best friends or fall in love? This mesmerizing story sparks a debate between the parents who want the book removed and those who staunchly believe it should stay in the curriculum. Weaving together three unique storylines, it sparks fabulous discussion on a timely subject.
The Prince is having a ball! Why? Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride, of course. Or, rather, his parents are looking for a bride for Sebastian. Sebastian is more wrapped up in hiding a secret from the world. And it’s a big secret: at night, he takes Paris by storm by putting on daring dresses and dazzling the world as Lady Crystallia, the hottest fashion icon in the fashion capital of the world! Sebastian’s dressmaker and best friend Frances is one of the only people who know his secret — but Frances has dreams of her own. Will she put her dreams on hold to protect Sebastian, or will Frances find her own way to shine? A fabulous graphic novel about love and identity that will have all who tear through its pages swooning!
Archer is always in search of role models, and he has three great ones — his grandpa, his uncle, and his dad. But then he gains a fourth one – his new school teacher, who happens to be the first male teacher in his school’s history. So what happens when each new day of middle school brings about some new, startling revelations? And what happens when he discovers the biggest one of all — that two of his role models are getting married? Funny, poignant, and a wonderful, insightful look at the world of adults from a child’s perspective, this book is such a winner!
After her artist mother dies, Andi feels lost and alone. She takes solace in playing the trumpet, but she hasn’t been playing the same since her world lost its color. When she is accepted to a prestigious music camp, though, she meets Zora, a flute prodigy who longs to dance. When the two connect, the only Black girls among the other White campers, they find hope, safety, and friendship in each other. And maybe something more, too. This is a beautiful story of life after loss, insecurity, and summer camp. *Note there are some mature themes pertaining to cutting, however, these scenes are handled in an age-appropriate manner.
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Sunny St. James gets a new heart, and with it, she creates a new life plan, too, including finding a new best friend and kissing a boy for the first time. There’s just one problem. When she meets Quinn, she may have the best friend thing down. But what if she discovers that kissing a boy isn’t what she wants after all? Will she discover a brand new Sunny St. James?
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Dalia has two goals for the summer. She wants to ride a roller coaster, and she wants to find a best friend. But then Dad announces he is engaged, and Dalia finds herself forced to spend time with her new step-sister, Alexa, who will soon be going to college. The new siblings end up on an amusement park road trip with Dalia’s friend Rani tagging along, too. All seems great, at first, but then Alexa’s girlfriend arrives. As Dalia is forced to keep Alexa’s secret, she realizes that she may be harboring a secret of her own. Is Rani just a friend, or does Dalia feel something more?
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In this multiple award-winning LGBTQ book for tweens, Bug and her best friend, Moira, are getting ready for middle school. For Moira, this means all things boys, clothes, and makeup. But Bug isn’t worried about those things, not even a little bit. Instead, she’s more concerned with the ghost haunting Bug’s house – a ghost who seems to be trying to send Bug a message, too. As Bug tries to uncover the ghost’s mystery, she slowly unravels another one, too; a mystery that helps her understand why she doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin – and why she maybe isn’t who she always thought she was.
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In Aster’s family, boys grow up to be shapeshifters, and girls grow up to be witches. Cross the lines? Risk being exiled. Uh oh. There’s just one problem. Aster, for some reason, still hasn’t gotten his shapeshifter magic, and he’s much more intrigued by witchery than shapeshifting anyway, no matter how forbidden that may be. When danger suddenly threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help fight the mysterious enemy — but only as a witch. Will he have the courage to save his family, even if it means exposing his true self? Another fabulous LGBTQ graphic novel, and a wonderful middle-grade fantasy, too!
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Like most kids, Rahul is nervous about beginning middle school in his small Indiana town. He seeks advice from his grandfather who tells him that he doesn’t have to be the best at everything. Instead, he should find just one thing he’s good at, and be the best at that thing. There’s just one problem. How can he find that one thing when bullies keep harassing him at school and he can’t stop staring at his classmate, Justin? Rahul wants nothing more than to crush his grandpa’s challenge, but if he isn’t good at anything? He’s got a problem. With heart and so much humor, we love this LGBTQ book for middle schoolers about living as your authentic self and being true to who you are at all times.
When Hector Munoz moves from San Francisco to Orangevale, he couldn’t feel more alone. Being gay at his old school wasn’t a big deal. He never used to feel different, yet now he just feels isolated. But then one day he discovers a room within his school that really shouldn’t exist. It just came out of nowhere! And so did the kids he found inside. Inside this old janitor’s closet, Hector’s world transforms as he embarks on life-changing friendships with kids across the country who help Hector remember to live as his true self. Heartwarming, hilarious, and a little bit magical, too.
This anthology is the most fabulous LGBTQ book for middle schoolers! The first of its kind, this book by prominent LGBTQ+ authors features stories for every letter of the acronym, including fantasy, sci-fi, and realistic fiction. From witches to dragons to first crushes to coming out, this remarkable, poignant anthology is full of wisdom, heart, and authenticity. The stories are joyful and affirming, and this prideful representation is not to be missed. A must for all bookshelves!
Jazz Jennings has been hailed by Time Magazine as one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens” and is one of the transgender community’s most important activists for young people. In her memoir, Jazz reflects on her transition to life as a girl when she was just five years old, and how her subsequent experiences — such as interviews with Barbara Walters and other high-profile journalists, a documentary, and a YouTube channel — have helped change the narrative surrounding the transgender community. Empowering, haunting, and remarkable, Jazz’s story of darkness and light is a testament to how far we have come — yet how far we still need to go.
This is a fabulous, informative timeline of LGBTQ+ history, beginning with evidence of same-sex love in almost all ancient civilizations, and continuing through the present day. Readers will learn about significant events in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, discover important advocates, and even read personal essays from young and inspiring LGBTQ+ people. Beautiful, vibrant, and chock-full of great information, this book encourages young readers not only to learn LGBTQ history but to take pride in it, too!