LGBTQAI+ Books for Children and Teens: Providing a Window for All. By Christina Dorr and Liz Deskins. Chicago: ALA, 2018. 168 p. Paper $45.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1649-0).

LGBTQAI+ Books for Children and Teens: Providing a Window for All is a necessary purchase for all staff collection shelves. Boundaries in libraries, often bordering on censorship, have prevented children and teens from accessing certain library materials. While libraries have come a long way since the days when a parent had to accompany children to the library and give permission for them to read books in the adult section, schools and libraries are not always keeping up with the evolving concepts of gender identity and sexuality. This book is the tool that can help libraries and schools continue the journey toward greater access by making LGBTQAI+ materials available to children and teens. Dorr and Deskin bring to this timely topic their fifty-plus years of experience working with children and teens.

The foreword by Jamie Campbell Naidoo, PhD, is in itself a superb testimonial advocating for diverse literature accessible to all. He writes: “A good book can . . . save lives and build bridges between seemingly disparate worlds” (ix). He discusses the need for children and teens to see the “metaphorical mirrors and windows in literature” (xi). Naidoo relates his own story, detailing how finding Entries from a Hot Pink Notebook during a dark time saved his life.

In the introduction, Dorr and Deskins address the importance of LGBTQAI+ materials to children and teens. They examine the early history of this literature, beginning with The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, and discuss other important milestones such as the importance of Heather Has Two Mommies in broaching a previously taboo subject and the graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. The chapter ends by presenting ways to manage objections and providing a list of terms to know.

The majority of the book is composed of three chapters, each of which consists of a short introduction and representative bibliographies for either young, middle grade, or teen readers. The bibliographies consist of high-quality, age-appropriate materials, with the authors indicating which letter the book addresses—L, G, B, T, Q, A, or I. The summaries are clear and concise, and the language reflects the book’s tone. Summaries are followed by a list of awards and honors, four or five conversation starters, and web resources for more information about the author and illustrator. Each chapter ends with ideas for programming, themes, and displays, as well as footnotes and a bibliography of titles. A final chapter, “It’s about Basic Human Rights,” sums up the purpose of the book. The book has an appendix of additional resources, which includes organizational websites, books, articles, and blogs. It also includes author biographies, an extensive glossary, and a subject, author, and title index.

A timely publication, this book is a tool that librarians everywhere should use to provide access to LGBTQAI+ materials for all children and teens. Use this book as resource guide to purchase a LGBTQAI+ collection for your school or public library. Use it to begin conversations with students and to provide programs in your school. Use it to guide the questioning child or young adult to the literature that might save their life.—Jenny Foster Stenis, Readers’ Services Manager, Pioneer Library System, Norman, Oklahoma


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