Professional Reading: Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens

Top_250_LGBTQ_09-2015Cart, Michael, and Christine A. Jenkins. Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens: Coming Out, Being Out, and the Search for Community. Chicago: Huron Street Press, 2015. 180 pages. $21.95. ISBN 978-1-937589-56-1.  Grade 7 to Adult, Professional. Outstanding.

With thoughtful and entertaining reviews of nearly 200 fiction titles, 22 graphic novels, and 34 nonfiction titles, this slim volume rewards browsing but is also engaging enough to read straight through. Each review includes a cover image and ranges from 100 to 200 words long, allowing Cart and Jenkins to give a real sense of what each book is about, the significant aspects of the LGBTQ content, and why teen readers would appreciate it.

In the introduction, the authors outline their criteria for inclusion, explore the history of LGBTQ Young Adult literature since the Stonewall riot, and mention famous books that were groundbreaking for their time but are now too dated to recommend. “Stereotypes, of course, have long been the bane of LGBTQ literature.” Following a list of recently published professional resources, an appendix in the back explains the three fiction codes Jenkins created to capture different aspects and themes: “Homosexual Visibility (HV), Gay Assimilation (GA), and Queer Consciousness/Community (QC).”

Although some teens might enjoy flipping through this guide, the authors’ intended audience is high school, middle school, and public librarians, as they refer to “reluctant teen readers” and say, for example, “if you are limited to a single biography of DeGeneres, this is the one to have.” Librarians, teachers, and others who work with teens will find this reference book invaluable, whether for choosing class reading material, providing readers’ advisory, or developing a strong YA collection.

Jennifer Vetter

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