Youth Book Corner: Celebrating Pride Month

June is Pride Month and the perfect reason for us to continue to celebrate the inspiring books written by LGTBQIA2S+ authors. Here are just a few recommended by our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai. 

I Promise
Written by Catherine Hernandez, illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware

Award-winning author Catherine Hernandez’s picture book, I Promise, is a quiet and beautiful celebration of parenthood. While going through the daily night-time ritual of brushing her teeth and getting into her night clothes, a young girl plies her mother with a series of questions about the different kinds of parents her friends have. The mother patiently answers her child’s questions, focusing not on who the parents are, but what they do for their kids, to drive home the point that queer families come in many shapes, sizes, and colours, but each starts with the promise to love a child. Grades 1-3

A Plan for Pops
Written by Heather Smith, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan

Shortlisted for the 2020 Blue Spruce Award, Heather Smith’s picture book, A Plan for Pops, is a heartwarming tale of a little boy’s love for his grandparents. Lou’s grandparents, Grandad and Pops, are an interracial gay couple who love to dote on their grandson by taking him to the library every week where they spend hours reading and listening to music. When Pops has a fall and is wheelchair-bound for life, Lou decides not just to cheer him up, but also to help him. With its simple language and cheerful illustrations, A Plan for Pops follows Lou as he works on a plan that will bring a smile to his grandfather’s face. Grades 1-3

A Boy Named Queen
Written by Sara Cassidy

Evelyn is used to a regimented life dictated by her strict mother. She eats the same breakfast every day and buys the same shoes from the same store every year. But then in fifth grade, a boy named Queen joins her class and turns Evelyn’s worldview upside-down. Queen has wavy hair, sports shiny gym shorts and wears several beaded necklaces. When kids in the class start picking on Queen, he ignores them and carries on proudly wearing his identity on his sleeve. Over the course of their friendship, Queen helps Evelyn come out of her shell and shows her how one can live a free and unapologetic life on one’s own terms. Important life-lessons about acceptance, tolerance, and self-expression are conveyed through Queen and Evelyn’s tender friendship. Grades 3-6

Fire Song
Written by Adam Garnet Jones

Cree-Métis Two-Spirit filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones’s novel, Fire Song, is a deeply personal tale based on the film of the same name. Shane is a closeted Indigenous teen living on a reserve in Northern Ontario, who has a girlfriend but is in love with his friend David. Worried about coming out to his community, Shane looks at going to Toronto for further studies as his only ticket to freedom and a better life. But when tragedy strikes his family, it leaves a trail of events in its wake that feels too overwhelming to overcome. This a moving YA novel about finding the courage to recover from the impossible odds that seem to be stacked against you and having the conviction to break the cycle of poverty and prejudice. Grades 10-12

High School
Written by Sara Quin and Tegan Quin

Identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin are global LGBTQ icons today, but before they were famous, they were two teenage girls trying to come to terms with their own identities while navigating the tangled and heady high-school world filled with copious amounts of alcohol, drugs, and of course, music. High School, their memoir, is written by Tegan and Sara in alternating chapters and reveals each sister’s experience and thought-process while they were in their formative years. This is a coming-of-age story set in 1990’s Calgary from the point of view of two women who were grappling, with intense fervour, fresh love, new songs, divorcing parents, varied stimulants and of course, academic grades. Grades 11-12


Leena Desai