Recent times have seen a dramatic shift in public opinion and policies regarding the rights of GLBT individuals. Literature is experiencing a parallel increase towards inclusivity of GLBT characters. This can make choosing titles for the classroom interesting, to say the least! Luckily, the American Library Association (ALA) offers numerous resources to help review and select the right titles for your classroom and students.

Since 1998, ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table (GLBTRT) has been “committed to serving the information needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered library community.” They collect book reviews for YA and adult books, news articles, book lists, and other professional tools on their homepage. One of their most useful resources for classroom teachers is the Rainbow Book List. Each January since 2008, the GLBTRT publishes an annotated list of the best books addressing GLBT themes that were published the previous year. The list is divided into several categories, including picture books, juvenile fiction and nonfiction, young adult fiction and nonfiction, and graphic novels. The short descriptions makes this a valuable resource for quickly discovering and evaluating numerous titles at once.

Some highlights from 2015 include:

  • Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, a cute picture book about a blue crayon that has been incorrectly labeled red.
  • Families by Shelly Rotner and Sheila Kelly, a photo-illustrated picture book highlighting many different kinds of families.
  • The Marvels by Brian Selznick, a magical story in words and pictures that tells the adventure of a runaway boy and his uncle, a former theater actor who is dying of AIDS.
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens’ Agenda by Becky Altertalli, a YA novel about a boy being blackmailed about his sexual orientation, until he decides to come out and live his real life.

The Stonewall Book Award, now sponsored by the GLBTRT, has been recognizing outstanding literature addressing GLBT topics since 1971. The Stonewall is awarded to several categories, including children’s and young adult. The committee selects several honor books in addition to the winning titles, making it another wonderful resource for finding quality literature addressing these topics. The 2016 YA winner was The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konisberg, a story about a blossoming friendship between two teens, one of whom is homeless and a lesbian.

Booksource’s Book Club read George by Alex Gino, the Stonewall Children’s Award winner last June. We really loved the way it addressed such a sensitive topic in a manner that is appropriate and not-overwhelming for young readers. Our full discussion post can be found in our Banter post.

No one likes dealing with controversy, but sometimes it may happen. For educators nervous about incorporating inclusive literature, ALA offers quite a few resources and tips for how to handle possibly controversial literature in the classroom. For more information and resources about integrating literature about sensitive topics, check out this Banter post from Banned Book Week: How to Keep Good Books from Banishment.

By using these and other resources to incorporate a diverse group of titles into each classroom library, students will benefit as readers and as global citizens.

Booksource Recommendations

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