12 books by Canadian LGBTQ writers for younger readers

Celebrate Pride Month by reading a YA, middle-grade or picture book created by a Canadian LGBTQ author.

June marks Pride Month in Canada! Here's a round-up of recent YA, middle-grade and picture books by Canadian LGBTQ writers.

Kings, Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens is a YA novel by Tanya Boteju. (Simon & Schuster, Jennifer Ivings)

This YA novel follows a high school student named Nima who is growing tired of sitting on the sidelines — both as the basketball team's equipment manager and in her unrequited crush for her best friend Ginny. When a carnival brings a cast of rowdy, colourful drag kings and queens to town, Nima begins to come out of her shell for the first time. This is Vancouver writer Tanya Boteju's first novel.

In the Sky at Nighttime by Laura Deal, illustrated by Tamara Campeau

In the Sky at Nighttime is a picture book by Laura Deal (above) and illustrated by Tamara Campeau. (Inhabit Media)

In the Sky at Nighttime is an illustrated bedtime poem about the Arctic night sky. Originally from Nova Scotia, Laura Deal has been living in Nunavut since 2005. This is her second book.

Dodger Boy by Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is the author of Dodger Boy. (Groundwood Books)

Coming of age in Vancouver in 1970, 13-year-old best friends Charlotte and Dawn wish they could skip adolescence altogether. But Charlotte's mind begins to change when her Quaker family shelters a charismatic draft dodger from Texas, who teaches her about war, civil disobedience and women's liberation. As Charlotte explores these new ideas, a rift begins to form between her and her best friend. Ellis won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text in 1991 for Pick-Up Sticks.

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

Fire Song is a YA novel by Adam Garnet Jones. (Annick Press)

Following his sister's suicide, Shane, a gay Indigenous​ teenager in Northern Ontario, struggles to support his family. Shane is eventually forced to choose between his family's home and his own future. Fire Song is an adaptation of Adam Garnet Jones's award-winning film.

The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray by E. Latimer

The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray is a middle grade novel by E. Latimer. (Tundra Books)

This middle-grade fantasy novel tells the story of a young painter named Bryony Gray, who is kept locked in her uncle's attic while her reputation as an artist grows in London. But when her paintings start to run amok, Bryony learns about her family's curse and decides to do something about it. E. Latimer lives in Vancouver.

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Like a Love Story is a YA novel by Abdi Nazemian. (HarperCollins)

This YA novel describes the friendship of three New York teens in 1989, set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis. Reza, a recent Iranian immigrant, is terrified people will find out he's gay and begins to date a lovely young woman named Judy. While their friendship deepens, Reza starts to fall for Judy's best friend Art — their school's only out and proud student. Abdi Nazemian, a dual Canadian-U.S. citizen, is a screenwriter and has previously written two other novels.

Be My Love by Kit Pearson

Be My Love is a YA novel by Kit Pearson. (HarperCollins, Katherine Farris)

Maisie has spent most of her summers frolicking on Kingfisher Island with her cousin Una. But this summer is different — Una has become "too mature" for Maisie and is obsessed with an older man named David Meyer. Be My Love is for readers aged 10 to 14. Kit Pearson is a beloved and prolific Canadian children's writer whose past work includes A Day of Signs and Wonders and Awake and Dreaming.

The Bunny Band by Bill Richardson and illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff

The Bunny Band is a picture book by Bill Richardson (above) and illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff. (Groundwood Books)

In this picture book, a badger named Lavinia catches a bunny nibbling on the potatoes and beans in her precious garden. The frightened bunny promises Lavinia a great reward if she lets him go. Each night, he returns with a band of instrument-playing bunnies whose music helps Lavinia's vegetables grow. Vancouver-based Bill Richardson is a former CBC Radio host and writer of many books, including the Stephen Leacock Medal winner Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast.

Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson

Pride Colors is a board book by Robin Stevenson. (Orca Book Publishers,

This poetic board book by Robin Stevenson is about a parent's unconditional love and the freedom to be whoever you are. The B.C. writer also describes the meaning behind each Pride flag colour. Stevenson is the author of many LGBTQ-themed books for children.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

Mariko Tamaki is the author of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me. The book is illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. (Shawnee Custalow, House of Anansi Press)

This YA graphic novel is about a teenage girl named Freddy who can't seem to quit her girlfriend, the popular, enigmatic Laura Dean. Though they keep breaking up and getting back together, Freddy frets over whether to forgive Laura's many indiscretions — all the while taking her friendships for granted. Mariko Tamaki is an award-winning Canadian comics writer, contributing to Marvel and DC Comics, based in Oakland, California.

Friends by Geraldo Valério

Friends is a picture book by Geraldo Valério. (Groundwood Books)

In this wordless picture book, a girl and a frog go fishing. But when the fish aren't biting, the girl and frog begin to make faces in the water, which begin to take on a life of their own and lead to a grand underwater adventure. Geraldo Valério is a Toronto-based author and illustrator, originally from Brazil.

Shout Out edited by Andrew Wheeler

Shout Out is a comics anthology edited by Andrew Wheeler. (TO Comix)

This comics anthology offers a fun and vibrant collection of fantasy and sci-fi comics featuring LGBTQ2SIA+ heroes, from cyberpunks to Viking lovers and demon hunters. There are 37 artists and creators from around the world featured in this book. It is edited by Toronto's Andrew Wheeler, with a forward by award-winning sci-fi writer Nalo Hopkinson.


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