Books

16 books for kids and teens by Canadian LGBTQ writers to read for Pride Month

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

June marks Pride Month in Canada. Here are 16 YA, middle-grade and picture books by Canadian LGBTQ writers to check out.

Rain Boy by Dylan Glynn

Dylan Glynn is an award-winning animator, painter, and author based in Toronto. (Ted Belton, Chronicle Books)

Rain Boy is all wet, all the time! This means he's not as popular as Sun Kidd, who brings sunny weather at all times. But Sun Kidd knows Rain Boy is special as well and invites him to her birthday party. But when the party gets all wet, everyone blames Rain Boy. But can Rain Boy learn to love his rain? 

This weather-themed story is about acceptance and loving to love oneself, no matter who they are.

Rain Boy is for ages 3-5.

Dylan Glynn is an animator, painter and author based in Toronto. His work has been recognized and exhibited by Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Somerset House and the Canadian Screen Awards.

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)

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is a graphic novel 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 — while taking her friendships for granted.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is for ages 14 and up. 

Mariko Tamaki is an award-winning Canadian writer, who contributes to Marvel and DC Comics, based in Oakland, California.

Rosemary Valero-O'Connell is an American illustrator who has worked for DC Comics, BOOM! Studios, CAPY Games and Mondo Tees, among others.

Kings, Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

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

Kings, Queens and In-Betweens is a YA novel that follows a high school student named Nima. Nima 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.

Kings, Queens and In-Betweens is for ages 12 and up. 

Tanya Boteju is an educator and writer from Vancouver. Kings, Queens and In-Betweens is her first book. 

Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron

Salma the Syrian Chef is a picture book written by Danny Ramadan and illustrated by Anna Bron. (Annick Press)

In Salma the Syrian ChefSalma wants to cook a heartwarming dish to cheer up her mama, who between English classes, job interviews and missing her husband back in Syria, always seems busy or sad. Syrian culture is depicted through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron's vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances. 

Salma the Syrian Chef is for ages 4-7.

Ahmad Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author, award-winning activist and public speaker. His first book was the novel The Clothesline Swing, which was longlisted for Canada Reads 2018. Salma the Syrian Chef is his first book for children.

Anna Bron is a Vancouver-based freelance illustrator and animation director.

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 in Dodger Boy. 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.

Dodger Boy is for ages 10-14.

Sarah Ellis is a children's writer and librarian based in British Columbia. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text in 1991 for Pick-Up Sticks.

Followers by Raziel Reid

Followers is a book by Raziel Reid. (Penguin Teen)

Followers is a YA novel about a 16-year-old girl named Lily Rhodes who is thrust into the spotlight and the world of reality TV when she is arrested and her mug shot is shared on gossip sites. Why? Her aunt Whitney is the star of Platinum Triangle, and Whitney takes Lily in after her mother kicks her out. But Lily's new life isn't all that it's cracked up to be, as she learns that every move and generous gesture just might have nefarious motivation behind it.

Followers is for ages 14 and up.

Raziel Reid is a YA writer based in British Columbia. His debut novel, When Everything Feels Like the Movies, won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text and was defended on Canada Reads 2015 by Elaine "Lainey" Lui. He is also the author ofthe YA novel Kens.

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 that visually explores locales such as the Arctic night sky. It shows young readers the beauty of living in the North. 

In the Sky at Nighttime is for ages 0-3.

Originally from Nova Scotia, Laura Deal has been living in Nunavut since 2005. In the Sky at Nighttime is her second book.

Tamara Campeau is an illustrator from Montreal. She has illustrated several children's books and her work has appeared in Chirp and Chickadee magazines.

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

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

In Fire Song, Shane, a gay Indigenous​ teenager in Northern Ontario, struggles to support his family after his sister commits suicide. Shane is eventually forced to choose between his family's home and his own future. 

Fire Song is for ages 14 and up. 

Adam Garnet Jones (Ka-nîpawit Iskotêk) is a Cree filmmaker and writer. Fire Song is an adaptation of his award-winning film.

I Promise by Catherine Hernandez, illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware

I Promise is a picture book by Catherine Hernandez (right) and illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Dahlia Katz)

I Promise is a portrayal of all the joys and challenges of parenting and a celebration of the many different forms that loving families come in.

I Promise is for readers aged 3-8.

Catherine Hernandez is a playwright, performer and the author of the novel Scarborough.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, activist and scholar whose work has appeared in the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Globe and Mail and in Nuit Blanche.

Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis

Break in Case of Emergency is a YA novel by Brian Francis. (HarperCollins, Samuel Engelking)

Break in Case of Emergency follows Toby Goodman, a teen whose father left their small town before she was born and whose mother died by suicide when she's a young girl. When she finds out that her estranged father is coming back to town and wants to meet her, Toby must try to make sense of her life amid surprising revelations about her family history. Break in Case of Emergency was a finalist the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature  text.

Break in Case of Emergency is for readers aged 14 and up.

Brian Francis is a writer and columnist for The Next Chapter on CBC Radio. His first novel, Fruit, was a finalist for Canada Reads 2009. He is also the author of the novel Natural Order.

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

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

Like a Love Story is a 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.

Like a Love Story is for ages 13 and up.

Abdi Nazemian, a dual Canadian-U.S. citizen based in Los Angeles, is a screenwriter and author. His other books include the YA novels The Authentics and The Walk-In Closet.

The Magic Boat by Katherine Farris & Kit Pearson, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

The Magic Boat is a children's book by Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. (Katherine Farris/kfarris.com/Annick Press/Orca Book Publishers)

The Magic Boat is set at the beach during the summer. When a little girl named Ellie meets Piper at the beach one warm day, the pair find themselves using the power of imagination to set sail for adventure. 

The Magic Boat is for ages 3-7 and was a finalist for the 2020 Blue Spruce Award.

Kit Pearson is an acclaimed Victoria-based writer and winner of numerous literature awards. She is a recipient of the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work and the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence. In 2018, Pearson was appointed a member of the Order of Canada.

Katherine Farris is an editor, author and researcher from Vancouver.

Gabrielle Grimard is an artist and illustrator from Quebec.

The Bunny Band by Bill Richardson, 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.

The Bunny Band is for ages 4-7.

Bill Richardson is a former CBC Radio host and author of many books, including the Stephen Leacock Medal winning novel Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast.

Roxanna Bikadoroff is an illustrator from Montreal who now lives in British Columbia. She also illustrated Richardson's children's book The Alphabet Thief.

Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson

Pride Colors is a board book by Robin Stevenson. (Orca Book Publishers, https://robinstevenson.com/)

Pride Colors is a poetic board book about a parent's unconditional love and the freedom to be whoever you are. It also describes the meaning behind each Pride flag colour.

Robin Stevenson is the author of many LGBTQ-themed books for children. She lives in Victoria.

At the Pond by Geraldo Valério

At the Pond is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Geraldo Valerio. (Groundwood Books, Jerry Hart)

At the Pond tells the story of a boy who takes his dog for a walk to a shimmering pond filled with snowy white swans swimming freely. One of the swans invites the boy and dog for a ride. They climb on and sail into a picturesque landscape. The boy befriends the swan. When he puts a leash on the swan, the sky turns stormy grey, the water becomes turbulent and the other swans fly away. The boy realizes he must free his friend.

At the Pond  is for ages 3-7.

Geraldo Valério was born in Brazil and now lives in Toronto. His books include Friends, Blue RiderTurn On the NightMy Book of BirdsMooseGoose, Animals on the Loose and Jump, Leap, Count Sheep.

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 LGBTQ 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.

Shout Out is for ages 13-17.

 Andrew Wheeler is a British-born comic book writer and novelist who now lives in Toronto. 

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