10,000 Dresses. Marcus Ewert. (1 – 3) A modern fairy tale about becoming the person you feel you are inside. While Bailey dreams of beautiful dresses, no one wants to hear about it because he is a boy. Then an older girl comes along who is inspired by Bailey and they make beautiful dresses together.
Addie on the Inside. James Howe. (6 – 9). Outspoken Addie struggles to define herself according to her own terms. She fights against bullying and anti-gay taunts, while discovering what it means to be a girl who’s a little bit different. Written as a series of poems. Includes her forming a GSA and participating in the Day of Silence. One of four in The Misfits series.
After Tupac & D Foster. Jacqueline Woodson. (5 – 8) The day D Foster enters Neeka and her best friend’s lives, the world opens up for them. D comes from a world vastly different from their safe Queens neighborhood, and through her, the girls see another side of life. They share a passion for the rap music of Tupac Shakur. They also deal with discrimination directed toward the gay brother of one of the girls.
The Best Man. Richard Peck. (3 – 5) With humor and insight, Newbery Medalist, Richard Peck, follows a boy from elementary school to middle school navigating school and family dynamics. Starts with a wedding disaster and ends with a great one.
The Boy in the Dress. David Williams. (5 – 7) Dennis’s Dad is depressed since his Mom left and his brother is a bully. But at least he has soccer. Then he discovers he enjoys wearing a dress. Told with humor and respect.
Confessions of a Former Bully. Trudy Ludwig. (2 – 5) Told from the unusual point of view of someone who bullied rather than the target. Highlights bullying with words. Provides kids with real life tools they can use to identify and stop relational aggression. Mentions taunting for being perceived as gay.
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. Jacqueline Woodson. (6 and up) Melanin Sun has a great life with his single mom until one day, his mother brings a white woman named Kristin home. Unable to let go of his anger he pours out his doubts and questions in his journals. But they're not enough. Somehow he must find a way to accept his mother and Kristin, or lose the only family he has. Portrait of a boy struggling to reconcile many mixed messages as he forms his identity.
Gracefully Grayson. Ami Polonsky. (5 – 7) Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?
Hit the Road, Manny: A Manny Files Novel. Christian Burch. (4 – 6) In a sequel to The Manny Files, the family heads off on a road trip with Mom, Dad, four kids and their male nanny or “manny.” In manny fabulousness, this is an adventure filled with more Glamour-dos than Glamour-don'ts. Looks directly at gay put-downs, parental acceptance, celebrating commitment and pride.
Jacob’s New Dress. Sarah and Ian Hoffman. (Pre-K – 2) Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can't wear "girl" clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? Speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don't identify with traditional gender roles.
Lily and Dunkin. Donna Gephart. (5 – 7) As 8th grade begins both Lily and Dunkin are trying to establish new identities for themselves. Everyone sees Lily as Timothy, but she is ready for the real her to be known. Dunkin just moved to town and wants to leave his past behind.
Luv Ya Bunches. Lauren Myracle. (3 – 6) A funny, honest depiction of the shifting alliances and rivalries between girls that shape school days. Written with a mix of instant messages, blog posts, screenplay, and straight narrative. Four diverse girls come together in friendship. One of the girls has two moms.
The Manny Files. Christian Burch. (3 – 6) Shy Keats Dalinger learns from his unconventional male "nanny" to be more self-confident and out-going while the "manny" becomes more and more a part of the family. Continues with Hit the Road, Manny.
The Misfits. James Howe. (6 – 9) Four best friends try to survive seventh grade in the face of all-too-frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence and sexual orientation/gender expression. The characters are not cast as victims, but as self-empowered agents of change. The first book in The Misfits series.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Christine Baldacchino. (Pre-K – 2) Morris loves wearing the tangerine dress in his classroom’s dress-up center, but the other children don’t understand. One day when Morris feels all alone and sick from their taunts and stays home. With help from his mom and his imagination, he returns to school and begins to connect with others.
The Other Boy. M. G. Hennessey. (5 – 10) Twelve-year-old Shane, a transgender boy, has moved to a new city and school where people only know him as a boy. He loves playing baseball, graphic novels and hanging out with his best friend. But an older boy undermines Shane’s privacy. Show’s Shane’s range of emotions from anxiety and fear to happiness and courage. Discusses hormone treatments directly.
Playground: A Mostly True Story of a Former Bully. Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. (6 – 9) A realistic look at bullying from the perspective of an urban young teen boy in middle school. Looks at the boys feelings as both a target of bullying and as perpetrator of bullying. Also touches on divorce and gay parenting. Some explicit language.
The Popularity Papers: Book Two: The Long-Distance Dispatch Between Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang. Amy Ignatow. (4 – 6) Julie and Lydia are ready to put their hard-earned lessons to use in junior high. Although now in different schools, each is dealing with bullying and what it means to be popular. Notebook/graphic format.
The Revealers. Doug Wilhelm. (5 – 7) At Parkland Middle School, three bullied seventh graders start an e-mail forum in which they publicize their experiences. Unexpectedly, lots of other kids come forward to confess their similar troubles. It becomes clear that the problem at their school is bigger than anyone knew. In one email, a student tells his troubles of being called gay.
The Skull of Truth: A Magic Shop Book. Bruce Coville. (5 – 7) Charlie Eggleston is the biggest liar in town. But after he steals The Skull, he finds he can only tell the truth — and now no one believes him. Includes issues of cancer, environmental protection and finding out about a gay uncle.
Totally Joe. James Howe. (6 – 9) Looks at the life of Joe, a character from The Misfits, while he navigates middle school questioning gender expectations and traditional roles as he realizes he is gay. He has supportive family and friends while dealing with name-calling and controversy. One of four in The Misfits series.
Violet in Bloom: A Flower Power Book. Lauren Myracle. (3 – 6) The four diverse 5th grade girls form Luv Ya Bunches are back for a single, eventful week, where each girl makes discoveries about herself and others. Includes blog posts, IMs, and video scripts. Touches on topics of friendship, dealing with fears, family, feeling powerful and bullying. One of the girls has two moms. Part of the Flower Power series.