Here at Atlas Book Club, we have three parts to our mission: (1) to help all children see themselves in the books that they read; (2) to help children travel to different parts of the world and experience world cultures; and (3) to help shatter “the single story” and stereotypes. We take this mission very seriously, and when we say all children should be able to see themselves in the books that they read, we mean ALL children. Also, our goal with all our book selections is to shatter single-story narratives, i.e., stereotypes. One of the tips we provide to parents when they are diversifying their library is this – look at the story being told about a culture or marginalized group. Are you seeing the same story over and over again? For example, are all the LGBTQ+ children’s books all coming out stories? Are they all about their pain and oppression? Then choose a book that has a different story! We are all more than the stories of our pain and oppression.
So here are a few books to get you started. These books feature kids–who happen to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community–just being regular kids! And if you follow me or Atlas long enough, you will find that these are my favorite types of stories!
When Aidan Became a Brother
Kyle Lukoff is a transgender author who inspires transgender kids around the world. His book, When Aidan Became a Brother, follows the tale of a biracial transgender boy named Aidan. Aidan thought he was a girl when he was born, but he learned he was actually a boy. When his parents announce that Aidan will be having a sibling, he wants to make sure everything will be perfect for them. But what happens if he makes a mistake? Aidan learns with a little guidance that mistakes can be rectified by honesty and communication and that he already knows the most essential aspect of being a big brother: how to love with all of his heart. Buy it here!
Drum Roll, Please
We love breaking stereotypes here at Atlas Book Club, and Lisa Jenn Bigelow’s novel, Drum Roll, Please, does exactly that! Melly is a quiet girl but loves to play the loudest instrument: the drums. When she plays the drums, it’s the only time Melly doesn’t feel as quiet as a mouse. Her parents break the news that they are getting a divorce when they drop her off at Camp Rockaway, and to top it off, her best friend Olivia starts to ditch her at camp when she finds an interest in boys. Melly has an interest in girls, however, and finds herself falling in love with a fellow campmate! Melly also isn’t convinced she’s cut out to be a true rock n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make a melody out of her heart’s clamor? Buy it here!
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun
Jacqualine Woodson explores race and sexuality in her novel, From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. This novel centers around Melanin Sun and his journey to understanding his mom’s newfound love with a woman. At first, he is angry and feels betrayed by his mom, who is the only person in his life. He feels the bitterness and bewilderment of a teenager frantically trying to regain normalcy. Woodson defies preconceptions while evoking the warmth of a mother-son bond and shows the reader that love may lead to acceptance of all kinds of diversity, despite the fact that there are no easy answers. Buy it here!
Ace of Spades
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is simply fantastic! When a book is described as Gossip Girl meets Get Out, you sit up and take notice. Meet Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, both selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects. But things take a turn when someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures. What started as a prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly? Buy it here!
For more books that shatter the single-story narratives and showcase the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community, check out our books list on Bookshop. With every purchase, you are supporting independent bookstores that have been hit quite hard during the pandemic.
You might also like these stories on the Bébé Voyage blog:
5 LGBTQ+ Books For Kids That Will Teach Them About The Importance Of Equality And Love