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    17 Great LGBTQ Middle Grade Novels You Need In Your Life

    You don't have to be a tween to enjoy these gorgeous middle grade novels starring characters across the rainbow spectrum!

    1. Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

    Scholastic, kacencallender.com

    Release date: March 27, 2018

    What it's about: This Stonewall and Lambda award winner stars Caroline, a Water Islander who had the bad luck to be born during a hurricane and has been suffering ever since. Her mother left her, she's bullied at her school in St. Thomas, and a mysterious spirit is following her around. But when a new girl transfers in from Barbados, she brings with her exactly the warmth and friendship Caroline has been craving, and suddenly life seems bearable. But can she bring herself to share the not-strictly-friendly feelings she's been having for Kalinda? And will Kalinda be willing to join her on the journey to find her mother? (For another absolutely beautiful queer middle grade book by Callender, check out National Book Award winner King and the Dragonflies!)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    2. A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux, goodreads.com

    Release date: Feb. 25, 2020

    What it's about: In this warmhearted contemporary that's every bit as sweet and charming as its star, everyone knows that Silas loves and excels at baseball, but they don't know the real reason he's giving his presentation on Glenn Burke, the player who invented the high five. And his best friend is the only person he's comfortable telling that it's because both he and the baseball legend are gay. But when things get complicated with his teammates, Silas will have to decide how much he's ready to reveal about who he is and why it matters. (For another sports-centric gay MG standalone, check out Chad Lucas's upcoming Thanks a Lot, Universe, being released May 11.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    3. Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

    Viking Books for Young Readers, lisabunker.net

    Release date: May 21, 2019

    What it's about: Moving in with her aunts is a revelation for extremely cool cyberwhiz Zenobia, who's finally able to live openly as a girl and make friends rather than keeping to herself and her computer. And when a cyber hate crime mystery surfaces at school, she's exactly the girl to uncover who's behind it. While Zen grows into herself and her new friendships and learns to shed the things that have held her back, she also masterfully puts her skills to good use to find the culprits and keep her new school a safe place. (For another of Bunker's warmhearted, queer family-oriented middle grade books, check out Felix Yz.)

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    4. The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

    Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, Bruce Glikas / Bruce Glikas/WireImage

    Release date: Oct. 8, 2019

    What it's about: This utterly charming Stonewall Honor debut stars an Indian boy named Rahul who's trying to find himself and how he can truly stand out in the world. He knows that finding what he's the best at has got to be the key to stopping the school bully from picking on him. But when you're a gay kid with OCD in small-town Indiana, no journey is an easy one. Then again, maybe he stands out the most just by being himself.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    5. Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

    Dial Books, Erin Jones-Le / Via kylelukoff.com

    Release date: April 20, 2021

    What it's about: With middle school on the horizon, Bug's best friend, Moira, is determined to get them ready. But Bug's focus isn't on crushes and it certainly isn't on dresses. With a beloved uncle having passed, joining the ghosts that have already haunted Bug's house for so long, there's a lot weighing heavy on Bug's heart. Just who are the ghosts that never seem to leave? And how does a person move on having lost someone they love? And what would happen if Bug stopped trying to understand how to be a girl and got to just be?

    For more middle grade books starring trans boys, check out Lexie Bean's The Ship We Built and Schuyler Bailar's Obie Is Man Enough, being released Sept. 7.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    6. Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ashleyherringblake.com

    Release date: March 6, 2018

    What it's about: When a tornado rips through Ivy's town, she loses almost everything, including her notebook full of drawings of girls holding hands. When her sketches begin to appear in her locker, one at a time, encouraging her to come out, Ivy knows exactly who she hopes is leaving them: the girl she's mustering up the courage to profess feelings for. (For more of Blake's beautiful middle grade books, check out The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James and Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea, which will be released May 25.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    7. Meow or Never by Jazz Taylor

    Scholastic, authorjessicalewis.com

    Release date: Jan. 5, 2021

    What it's about: Avery is a behind-the-scenes kind of girl, and that's exactly where she is when she discovers a cat hiding away. A cat that's just begging to be sung to...which leads a classmate Avery's been crushing on to overhear her singing, convincing her to audition for the school musical. Now Avery's out of her comfort zone in more ways than one, and it'll take all her inner strength to get through it and let the spotlight shine on her. (And she would also very much like to keep the cat, thank you.)

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    8. Alan Cole Is Not a Coward by Eric Bell

    Katherine Tegen Books, harpercollins.ca

    Release date: Sept. 5, 2017

    What it's about: Alan's life is straight-up scary, between his bully of a brother, his perpetually angry father, and his feelings for another boy at school that just won't go away. But when his brother, Nathan, discovers his secret, Alan finds an out: If he can beat him in a competition requiring him to accomplish seven daunting tasks, the secret will be safe. But maybe, just maybe, if Alan can complete them all, he won't need secrecy anymore. (Follow this one up with the sequel, Alan Cole Doesn't Dance; and for another series, check out Tim Federle's Better Nate Than Ever and Kit Rosewater's The Derby Daredevils, which kicks off with Kenzie Kickstarts a Team.)

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    9. George by Alex Gino

    Scholastic, Blake C. Aarens / Via alexgino.com

    Release date: Aug. 25, 2015

    What it's about: One of the few queer middle grade novels to feature a protagonist on the younger end of the tween spectrum, Gino's award-winning debut stars Melissa, a trans girl who doesn't know how to go about being seen for who she is...until an opportunity presents itself in the form of the class play. If she can win the starring role of Charlotte in Charlotte's Web, everyone would have to see her as a girl, at least while she's onstage. But when she's forbidden from trying out because they think she's a boy, she has to decide whether she can emerge with her truth. (Already read and loved this one? Revisit Melissa in Gino's newest, Rick, a book about a boy who realizes he's on the ace spectrum!)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    10. Hazel's Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

    HarperCollins, Rebecca Dudley / Via lisajennbigelow.com

    Release date: Oct. 8, 2018

    What it's about: Bigelow got her start with one of YA's earliest f/f novels, but her biggest splash thus far has been with this Lambda Literary Award–winning contemporary about a girl with two moms who has a lot of questions about her own feelings as she enters eighth grade and feels different from everyone else. Starting somewhere new is scary enough, but it's that much harder when it feels as if you're the only one who isn't interested in romance or any of the stuff that comes with it. As she explores where she fits in her new school, she also works out where she might fit on the ace spectrum. (For another great queer middle grade by Bigelow, check out Drum Roll, Please!)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    11. The Insiders by Mark Oshiro

    HarperCollins, Zoraida Córdova | zoraidacordova.com

    Release date: Sept. 21, 2021

    What it's about: This magical middle grade debut from award-winning Oshiro stars a queer boy who stumbles upon a magical closet while running away from homophobic bullies, only to find that it's a queer Narnia of sorts, accessible to two other queer kids at different schools facing the same issue. There, they find safety and companionship. If you cried upon simply reading the premise of this book, you are not alone.

    Get it from Target or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    12. The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, frolic.media

    Release date: Jan. 5, 2020

    What it's about: In this charming graphic novel, a coup sends Hawke and Grayson running from their home and assuming new identities as Hannah and Grayce to keep themselves safe among a group of magical thread-spinning women. But as the time nears for them to return home, Grayce realizes that she fits better in this identity in life than she ever has before. (For more stellar queer middle grade graphic novels, try Snapdragon by Key Leyh, The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag, Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne, and Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge.)

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    13. Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo

    Scholastic / Via shop.scholastic.com, ashvanotterloo.com

    Release date: Aug. 4, 2020

    What it's about: Magic and mayhem abound in this delightful contemporary fantasy set in the heart of Appalachia and featuring alternating points of view between two girls who are desperate to be successful at magic. Seeing her magic go wrong leads Katybird to wonder whether the problem lies in her being intersex and having a Y chromosome in a line where magic is passed down through women. But together with Delpha, who's just discovered her grandmother's old spell book, they just might be the perfect pair to make it work. (Keep on the Van Otterloo train with their next middle grade, A Touch of Ruckus, being released Sept. 21 and starring a queer girl and her nonbinary crush on a mysterious mission.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    14. Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald

    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, brianarosemcdonald.com

    Release date: Sept. 29, 2020

    What it's about: Pepper Blouse is all about her detective work, except for one little distraction: her crush on a girl. But when a case throws all hope for that romance out the window, Pepper decides it's time for a break...until her great-aunt dies under mysterious circumstances. Now Pepper is determined to crack the case that everyone else insists isn't one at all, but what she finds on the trail will change her life forever.

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    15. Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass

    Little, Brown Young Readers / Via lbyr.com, sassinsf.com

    Release date: Oct. 20, 2020

    What it's about: Ana loves competitive ice-skating, but she does not love that next season's program will force her to don princess attire for her costume. She doesn't realize why the very idea makes her so uncomfortable in her own skin, though, until she meets Hayden, a trans boy who's new to the rink and mistakenly thinks she's a boy too. When Ana lets him believe it, it starts her down a path to realizing that she's nonbinary and that she may have to fight to make her own space on the ice. (For another contemporary middle grade novel with a nonbinary main character, check out Ami Polonsky's Spin With Me.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    16. The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan

    Houghton Mifflin, goodreads.com

    Release date: Feb. 16, 2021

    What it's about: Stevie is curious about everything because knowing how things work helps her quell her anxiety. But when she develops a crush on another girl, it's the first thing she doesn't really understand — and she doesn't know how to ask, either. But when her "research" takes her to a supportive librarian who helps her understand her feelings, Stevie aims to tackle the most anxiety-inducing thing of all: telling her mom. (For another sweet and lovely sapphic novel-in-verse, try Redwood & Ponytail by K.A. Holt.)

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    17. This Is Our Rainbow, edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby

    Knopf Books for Young Readers / Via Editors, goodreads.com / Via goodreads.com

    Release date: Oct. 12, 2021

    What it's about: This middle grade all-queer anthology is a first of its kind — rife with beautiful representation and a diverse collection of names, including authors whose queer novels are yet to come (such as Mariama J. Lockington, whose In the Key of Us hits shelves next year) and authors who've published in other categories but are new to this one (like bestselling YA author Marieke Nijkamp, author of This Is Where It Ends, and graphic novelist Shing Yin Khor). While this is Locke's first middle grade, Melleby has several gorgeous titles, including Hurricane Season, In the Role of Brie Hutchens, and How to Be a Planet, which is being released May 25.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

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