Summer Learning: Read With Pride

rainbow painted on canvas

Summer Learning is moving forward, and the librarians at San José Public are moving forward too! We've got a list to help inspire your reading and learning this Summer. If you haven't already, you should sign up for Summer Learning to log your reading and win prizes. We will also be releasing a weekly blog with a new booklist that we hope will pique your interest. This week we'll celebrate Pride Month with a selection of books featuring LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, + representing/encompassing the spectrum of gender/sexuality) characters and themes.

Representation in popular media is important. Whether in a movie, a book, or even an advertisement. When someone can identify with a character it can help them engage with the story, maybe it grants a role model, and it could even boost self esteem by changing the way an individual sees themselves. Reading stories with different points of view also fosters empathy and understanding. With these ideas in mind and June being Pride Month, we have created a list of books for all ages that feature LGBTQ+ characters and characters that share unique perspectives and experiences.

What is Pride Month? Pride Month originally started as Pride Day (celebrated the last Sunday in June and commemorating the Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal event leading up to the gay liberation movement) and eventually grew to Pride Month. Pride Month is an umbrella that encompasses many different initiatives: it seeks to raise awareness for the issues facing the LGTBQ+ community; it hopes to fight bias and encourage understanding; it is about being proud of who you are, and the right to live life openly without fear of persecution; it is about making visible what people have long been forced to hide.

While there are no doubt still challenges and biased attitudes to face yet, the progress that has been made by people belonging to and allies of the LGBTQ+ community should be highlighted. With an ever growing presence in literature, one way we can appreciate this progress is by reading books with LGBTQ+ characters and themes, and this is an initiative to take any time of year, Pride Month and beyond. These books are not only an opportunity for some of us to find that important representation in media, but they can help fight bias by exposure, and also fight boredom because these books are great reads! Check out the full, multigenerational booklist here.

It wasn't that long ago that there was a gap of literature in general featuring LGBTQ+ characters and themes, so it is especially wonderful as a librarian to see so many picture book titles that relate to Pride Month. This is a mix of fiction and nonfiction, with true stories and new fairy tales. These books can be used to start a variety of different conversations to help teach understanding and acceptance of both the self and others.

My Rainbow is a beautiful picture book that highlights the relationship of a mother and her transgender daughter. Based on a true story, and listed as a Kirkus Review best children's book in 2020 and 2021 American Library Association #RainbowBooklist Top 10 pick, this simple story about a rainbow wig will leave you smiling.

These books, all novels, are a little longer and best for confident readers and pre-teens (or roughly, ages 9-12). These books not only grant us access to different perspectives of those during moments of self discovery and coming of age, but begins to introduce more literally some of the issues, challenges, and attitudes that affect individuals that are grappling with understanding discoveries of themselves.

Drum Roll Please is a book about 13 year old Melly who goes through several big changes as she heads off to summer rock camp. A sweet middle grade love story that balances heavy issues with a lighter tone all wrapped up in an easy to read camp story. All in all, this book is a great middle grade read that will inspire empathy and understanding in its readers. (will be enjoyed by those who love Raina Telgemeier)

This selection of books is roughly intended for ages 12-17, but of course can work for a precocious younger reader and anyone older as well. For the Teen or Young Adult (YA) there is definitely a growing representation of the LGBTQ+ community in literature, and we have the pleasure of being introduced to a number of inspiring voices, both real and imagined. From protagonists to side kicks to side characters, there are many ways to read and celebrate Pride with YA fiction.

Lakelore is a lyrical tale about two non-binary teens pulled into a magical world beneath a lake. This novel portrays teen trauma and healing in a story rooted in magical realism. Character identities are multifaceted and inclusive, and moments of beauty and joy rise to the surface of this entrancing teen novel.

Last but not least, our Pride Picks for Adults are here! Fine is a stunning graphic novel debut about the transgender community across the United States. This book showcases diverse experiences and personal accounts with beautiful artwork.

Whether Pride Month or not, these books have many important lessons and observations within their pages that will make a good read any time of year. As always, if you're looking for more to read check out other great recommendations on our Staff Picks Page. If you're looking for more ways to participate in Summer Learning, leave a book review on Beanstack (the site that powers our Summer Learning program). There is a chance we may feature your review in an upcoming blog!

Blog Category
Adult Fiction
Adult Nonfiction


Submitted by Jo-Ann Wang on Sat, 06/05/2021 - 9:25 AM


Your Comment
Love the titles and the rainbow graphic. So beautiful.

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