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Have Some LGBTQ+ Books, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

I came across the book Cool for the Summer recently and thought the cover looked really cool and the premise sounded interesting. That sent me down the rabbit hole of upcoming LGBTQ+ books, which I am rounding up for you here. This is just a small sampling of some books coming out that sounded interesting to me. The descriptions are the publisher’s book descriptions. These are all 2021 releases.

Cool for the Summer By Dahlia Adler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan

Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school’s code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her overbearing mother. The two are drawn to each other and can’t deny their growing feelings. But while Morgan–out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start–doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

After losing spectacularly to her ex-girlfriend in their first game since their break up, Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, the incredibly beautiful and incredibly mean Irene Abraham. Things only get worse when their nosey, do-gooder moms get involved and the girls are forced to carpool together until Irene’s car gets out of the shop.

Their bumpy start only gets bumpier the more time they spend together. But when an opportunity presents itself for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex (and climb her school’s social ladder at the same time), she bribes Irene into playing along. Hijinks, heartbreak, and gay fake-dating scheme for the ages. From author Kelly Quindlen comes a new laugh-out-loud romp through the ups and downs of teen romance.

In Deep Waters by F.T. Lukens

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

The [Un]Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez

Vaseline on the teeth makes a smile shine. It’s a cheap stunt, but Mark Adams knows it’s optics that can win or ruin an election.

Everything Mark learned about politics, he learned from his father, the congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son. To protect his father’s image, Mark promises to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark decides to risk the low profile he assured his father and insert himself as a political challenger.

One big problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and he has few friends; plus, the ones he does have aren’t exactly with the in-crowd. Still, thanks to countless seasons of Scandal and The West Wing, these nerds know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover. Soon Mark feels emboldened to get in front of and engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and a bully front-runner who stands in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous. 

Read the Rainbow: An LGBTQIA+ YA Lit Infographic

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been doing a lot of youth staff training on diversity and inclusion at the Fort Worth Public Library. My supervisor, Kathryn King, and I recently talked with library staff about LGBTQIA+ literature for youth of all ages. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the YA/Teen Literature information we shared with staff.

To create the information you see below, I adapted a tool I had previously created. I spent months reading and working with a variety of trusted and respected experts in the field. I also shared this on Twitter to get feedback. What you see below is the culmination of months of research and vetting. That being said, it’s important that you know that the number one determination after quality to get on this infographic is that we had to have multiple copies in our system. It’s an RA tool to help staff connect patrons with books so we are looking specifically for books that our library system owns.

I want to give special thanks to Dahlia Adler from LGBTQ Reads who gave a lot of her personal time and energy to help me make sure that I got this right for our teens. Any mistakes made, however, are mine and just means that I got one of her feedback notes wrong.

Although we focused on fiction, there is one award winning nonfiction title that I highly recommend every one read:

Resources

LGBTQ Reads https://lgbtqreads.com/

YA Pride Masterlist http://www.yapride.org/masterlist/

10 Transgender/Nonbinary YA Titles (not all Own Voices) https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/10-great-ya-novels-transgendernonbinary-main-characters/

Queer Books for Teens http://queerbooksforteens.com

Our Most Anticipated LGBTQAP YAs of 2019: July – December

Middle Grade LGBTQ Reads

LGBTQ Reads for Middle Graders

Great LGBTQ Inclusive Picture & Middle Grade Books

LGBTQ Science Fiction and Fantasy YA by Own Voices Authors https://bookriot.com/2017/02/15/lgbtqa-science-fiction-and-fantasy-ya-by-ownvoices-authors/

#OwnVoices LGBTQ Reads https://bookishnessandtea.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/50-ownvoices-queer-books-to-read-this-pride-month/

Barnes and Noble: 25 YA #OwnVoices of 2019 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/25-of-our-most-anticipated-ownvoices-must-reads-of-2019/

Best own voice LGBTQIAP+ books https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/105318.Best_own_voice_LGBTQIAP_books

Resources for Building a Collection and Supporting LGBTQIA+ Teens

Things to Consider Regarding Own Voices and LGBTQIA+ Lit

The Problem with #OwnVoices and LGBTQIA+ literature: There’s one more aspect to #ownvoices in LGBTQ lit: the pressure to be an out author. See: https://bookriot.com/2017/04/21/the-problem-with-ownvoices-lgbtq-lit/

And always be sure and check here at TLT as Amanda MacGregor works hard every month to share lists of new and forthcoming LGBTQIA+ books to share with teens.

When Pride is Said and Done: Teen Contributor Elliott Shares Their Post Pride Thoughts

It’s been a couple of months because Teen Contributor Elliott was busy graduating from high school, but today Elliott is back to share their post-pride thoughts.

Trigger Warning: Suicide, abuse

As Pride Month comes to an end, many people are hit with the realization that although they have a month where they can feel free and openly themselves, the world is still not a perfect place. Even just one day after pride month, corporations stop showing their support, harassment and attacks against the LGBT+ community continue to happen, and people are forced back into silence. I want to take this opportunity to shed light on some hardships AND prosperity in the LGBT+ community that often go overlooked.

Being in the closet during Pride Month can be extremely frustrating for some people who dream of being open about who they are. But for others, being in the closet can be the safest, yet most dangerous situation at the same time. Someone’s environment may not make it safe for them to come out for fear of abuse, abandonment, or death, but the closet can also be a prison that denies someone access to try to figure out their identity. This can make the person confused and insecure about whether or not they are truly part of the LGBT+ community. While I would never suggest for someone to force themselves out of the closet in the hopes of figuring themselves out, the situation they are in could be compared to being trapped on a bus in a zombie apocalypse. While that person is safe from the hoards of zombies outside, they are starving, confused, and left alone on the bus and either way death is imminent. So their options are to starve on the bus- be confused and drowning in self hatred in the closet, or risk it with the zombies in the hopes to find other survivors- come out of the closet and find other members of the LGBT+ community who can help them figure out their identity and help them live their life. There is also a third, and overlooked option- stay in the bus and wait for the zombies to leave and then learn to survive on your own. In other words, stay in the closet until you feel safe and instead of getting help, figure out your identity by yourself. All three of these options are completely valid; however, they often go overlooked because they don’t project the happy point of view that society likes to display.

The LGBT+ community may literally be full of rainbows, but it isn’t always the most happy, rainbow-filled community. Often times coming out to others and being part of the LGBT+ community can be dangerous, not because of homophobic people outside of the community, but because of gatekeepers who identify as LGBT+ themselves. A bisexual woman is accused of not being “bisexual enough” by a lesbian because she’s in a relationship with a man; a trans male is accused of not being “trans enough” by a gay man because he happens to like wearing makeup (despite the fact that the gay man wears makeup himself and is sternly asserts that he is indeed a male); an asexual nonbinary individual is accused of not being nonbinary by other trans folk because they’re too feminine and they can’t be asexual because they’ve kissed somebody. All of these stories are true stories and I would know because they’re stories from people I know…and the last story is mine. Gatekeeping in the LGBT+ community is so incredibly toxic. Dealing with homophobia and transphobia from cishet people is already difficult enough, but to face the same discrimination within the community can make it feel like there is no safe place. I know that for me, it made me question my identity and made me hate what I identified as for the longest time. The LGBT+ community should be just that, a community. A community where we are here to lift each other up and help fight against the oppression that all of us face instead of adding more fire to the flame. But right now, that’s simply not the reality.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the hidden darkness of the LGBT+ community. However, there are good things in the community that often go overlooked as well and I want to spend just as much time bringing those truths to light.

One of the most common coming out stories that I hear often goes unnoticed because there’s no drama or extreme message behind it. Someone who hasn’t had many struggles with their identity tells their parents casually in a normal conversation that they’re LGBT+ and their parent is simply okay with it. Nothing grand, nothing drastic, nothing dangerous- just stating a fact and the fact being accepted. I just want to say that there’s nothing wrong with this story! This story is just as beautiful and just as powerful as someone with a tragic backstory or a less than ideal coming out story. Sharing such an intimate part of yourself with the world is such a beautiful, powerful thing to do, even if there were no obstacles of hardships in the way.

Pride Month is beautiful and the fact that there is a month where LGBT+ identities, struggles, and victories are brought to light, this month is also a call-to-action. The community still faces hardships left and right. Identities and stories are still being hidden. And, although pride month is over, LGBT+ pride should never end. The steps we are taking to make the world a better place should not stop after June. Pride is forever and our fight is not over.

Digital Media: Using Photo Apps to Make Pride Photos

The month of June is Pride month, a time when the LGBTQIA+ community remembers the Stonewall riots and the struggle – which continues today – to ascertain basic civil rights. In celebration of Pride, I’m going to share with you how you can create Pride themed digital media effects. On Monday I shared with you some apps you can use to create space effects on photos and today I’m going to share with you some apps you can use to add rainbows or rainbow effects to photos to create signage, avatars, social media graphics and more.

You’ll need a device of some sort with the following apps pre-loaded and a way to get photos onto the app. You can set up an in-library photo booth as discussed in Monday’s post. Once you have your photos you can begin mixing them with apps to create awesome pictures, like the one above.

Be Funky Pro

If I’m being completely honest, the only app you really need for this is the Be Funky Pro app as it has a variety of rainbow effect photos and is a full photo editor. It’s one of my favorites and I highly recommend it. There is a free version, but I recommend unlocking the app by buying the $1.99 pro version. Under the effects tab there are a variety of Pop Art effects that you can choose to create eye catching rainbow hued photos. I used the app to make all of these photo effects:

As you can see, Be Funky Pro has a variety of Pop Art effects that work great for creating Pride photos. It’s quick and easy to use and because you can add text using this app, it’s a one stop app. Those of you who read a lot of posts here know that I often use a variety of apps to create one final image, so it’s nice to have a one stop app.

PicsArt

The PicsArt app has a couple of effects that I really liked. The initial app download is free but there are in app purchases that you can buy. It did look like it had a lot of great additional features, but it has a subscription cost and of all the app purchasing options out there a subscription fee is my least favorite. I want to buy an app and be done with it. The features I used to make the photos below are found in the Pop Art and Color Gradient features. I made the pictures below without making any additional purchases so the app was completely free to use.

Rainbow Love

The Rainbow Love app allows you to add a variety of fun effects to a photo, including simply adding a rainbow onto an image. There are stickers, filters and more. You can download the app for free and use some of the features but there are additional charges for additional features. I liked that you could add a subtle yet beautiful rainbow to an image without changing the entire photo. I made the following pic using a free version of the app.

But wait, there’s more . . .

There are a variety of other apps available to add rainbow effects to your photos out there, some specifically designed to promote Pride.

Any and all of the apps mentioned here are fine but I recommend starting with Be Funky Pro or Rainbow Effects, depending on what effect you want to create.

You have a photo, now what? After you make your remixed Pride photos, you can do a variety of fun things with them:

  • Print them off and make them into buttons if you have a button maker.
  • Change your social media avatars to Pride photos
  • Decoupage them onto a canvas
  • Print them onto photo paper and paint a frame

How a Photo Becomes an Icon

The icon that Amanda MacGregor uses for her monthly What’s New in LGBTQIA+ column was made by me, an amateur, completely on my phone in less than 5 minutes. I began with the photo of a canvas that The Teen painted for a project. The canvas background is seen here in her completed picture, I just thought it was such a pretty background that I took a picture of it before she added the trees. So the background of the painting from this picture . . .

I used an app to remix the photo – in this instance I used the Shanghai filter on the Hipstamatic camera. I then used Word Swag to create the wording. And this is the story of how a photo of the canvas you see above became our LGBTQIA+ icon for our monthly feature.

So the background from the painting in the picture above plus a few magic tricks in an app becomes this icon . . .