Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender.
Is about a Water Islander named Caroline who was born in the middle of a hurricane and has been in pain ever since. This movie won both the Lambda and Stonewall awards. Her mother left her, she’s being bullied at her school in St. Thomas, and a mysterious spirit is following her all over the place, too. There is one problem, though. When a new girl moves in from Barbados, she brings with her the warmth and friendship that Caroline has been looking for. As long as she doesn’t want to say anything bad about Kalinda, how can she? To find her mother. Is Kalinda interested in going along with them?
A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner
Everyone knows that Silas is a big fan of baseball, but they don’t know why he’s giving a presentation on Glenn Burke, the player who came up with the high-five. It’s because both he and the baseball legend are gay. His best friend is the only person he’s willing to tell that. It will be hard for Silas to decide how much he can tell his friends about who he is and why it’s important when things get complicated with his team.
Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker
It’s about Zenobia, a very cool computer genius who moves in with her aunts. She can now be herself and make friends instead of just being alone with her computer. When a cyber hate crime mystery comes up at school, she’s the person to find out who did it. Zen grows into herself and her new friends and learns to let go of the things that have kept her from moving forward. At the same time, she puts her skills to good use to find the culprits and keep her new school safe.
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
It’s about an Indian boy named Rahul who’s trying to figure out who he is and how he can be unique in the world. This is the only way to stop the bully from picking on him at school. He knows that finding out what he’s the best at is the key. But when you’re a gay kid with OCD living in a small town in Indiana, no journey is easy. Maybe he stands out the most because he is himself.
Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
Bug’s best friend, Moira, wants to get them ready for middle school. In other words, Bug isn’t really interested in having a crush on someone or wearing dresses. With a beloved uncle dead, and the ghosts that have been haunting Bug’s house for so long, Bug’s heart is full. Who are the ghosts that don’t seem to leave? How does a person move on after they lose someone they love? And what would happen if Bug didn’t try to figure out how to be a girl and just was?
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
There’s a tornado that hits Ivy’s town, and it takes away almost everything. Ivy loses a notebook full of drawings of girls holding hands. One by one, her sketches start to show up in her locker and encourage her to come out. Ivy hopes that the girl she’s trying to be brave enough to tell is leaving them.
Meow or Never by Jazz Taylor
Avery is a person who likes to be behind the scenes, and that’s where she is when she finds a cat. A cat that just wants to be sung to, which leads a classmate Avery has been in love with to overhear her singing, which makes her want to audition for the school musical. There are two ways Avery is out of her comfort zone now. It will take all of her inner strength to get through it and let the spotlight shine on her.
Alan Cole Is Not a Coward by Eric Bell
Is about Alan’s brother, his angry father, and his feelings for a boy at school that won’t go away. Then Alan comes up with an idea: If he can beat Nathan in a competition that has him do seven hard things, the secret will be safe. But maybe, just maybe, if Alan can finish all of them, he won’t need to be secret anymore.
George by Alex Gino
There are few middle grade books about transgender people who are younger than the main character, Melissa. Gino’s award-winning first book is about Melissa and how she doesn’t know how to be seen for who she is until the class play comes along. The only way everyone would see her as a girl is if she won the lead in Charlotte’s Web. But when she can’t try out because people think she’s a boy, she has to decide if she can come out with her truth.
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
One of YA’s first f/f novels by Bigelow. Her best-known work so far is a contemporary about a girl with two moms who has a lot of questions about her feelings as she enters eighth grade and feels different from everyone else. Isn’t it scary when you start somewhere new and it feels like you’re the only one who doesn’t like romance? As she looks for a place to fit in at her new school, she also thinks about where she might be on the ace scale.
The Insiders by Mark Oshiro
Award-winning Oshiro’s first middle-grade book is about a queer boy who runs away from homophobic bullies and finds a magical closet. Then he finds out that it’s a kind of queer Narnia, and two other queer kids at different schools can also get in. There, they find safety and friendship. In this case, you aren’t alone.
The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith
What it’s about: In this cute comic book, Hawke and Grayson run away from home after a coup and take on new identities as Hannah and Grayce to stay safe with a group of magical thread-spinning women. In the end, Grayce realizes that she fits better in this new role in life than ever before. Key Leyh’s Snapdragon is one of the best middle-grade graphic novels out there for kids who are gay or lesbian. The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag, Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne, and Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge are also great.
Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo
There is a lot of magic and mayhem in this modern-day fantasy set in the heart of Appalachia and told from the point of view of two girls who want to be good at magic. The fact that Katybird’s magic doesn’t work makes her wonder if the problem is that she is intersex and has a Y chromosome in a line where magic is passed down through women. That’s not to say that Delpha and them might not be a good match. Delpha has just found her grandmother’s old spell book. Keep going on the Van Otterloo train with their next middle-grade book, A Touch of Ruckus, which comes out on Sept. 21. It stars a queer girl and her nonbinary crush on a mysterious mission together.
Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald
Pepper Blouse is all about her work, except for one thing: her crush on a girl. Pepper decides it’s time for a break when a case throws all hope for that romance out the window. Then her great-aunt dies under mysterious circumstances. Everyone else says the case isn’t real, but Pepper wants to find out for sure. What she finds on the trail will change her life for good.
Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass
For her costume next season, she will have to dress up as a princess. Ana is not happy about this. She doesn’t know why the very thought of it makes her feel so uncomfortable in her own skin until she meets Hayden, a trans boy who is new to the rink and thinks she’s a boy, too. To start, Ana lets him believe that she is nonbinary and that she may have to fight to make her own space on the ice. Spin With Me by Ami Polonsky is another middle grade book with a nonbinary main character.