I’ve often heard it described that coming out is a “process”—that it’s not something you do just once and it’s over, but something you have to keep doing over and over. There also seems to be a period of coming in; a time of self-discovery and self-acceptance. The tween years are a rough time for everyone. (I haven’t met a single person who can truthfully claim to have sailed through their tweens unscathed.) Everyone is questioning who they are and who they want to become. And feeling like you need to hide part of that identity just adds to the pressure. Having stories depicting this process of coming in and coming out help to normalize it. And the more we normalize it, the more hope there is that one day no one will need to feel stressed about coming out—we’ll all be free to just BE!
Witches? Italy? Adorable crushes? Yes, yes, and YES! This is one graphic novel you’ll sit down with and not get back up until you’ve read every single page.
Thirteen-year-old Lilla feels she is a bit different. She’s quiet and shy and sometimes feels uncomfortable in the company of boys. She’d much rather spend time by herself drawing and daydreaming. This summer, while staying with her aunt in rural Italy, Lilla discovers a book of magic which reveals that she is a witch with special powers, the magic of ‘Strega’.
But unbeknownst to her, an ancient witch, Stregamama, threatens to ruin more than just her summer. Lilla is soon faced with a choice that could change her life forever.
by A. J. Sass
Pull out your tissues, because this book made me sob. In a good way. A very good way.
Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season's program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.
Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn't correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he's around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it's tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.
Does your flashlight have batteries? Okay, good, because you’ll probably be hiding under the covers reading wayyyy past your bedtime with this book!
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.
Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
by Ami Polonsky
You won’t be able to help but cheer for Grayson in this beautiful story of courage and friendship.
What if who you are on the outside doesn’t match who you are on the inside?
Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. 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?
by Niki Smith
Find yourself swept away by this unputdownable story and gorgeously vibrant illustrations!
After a terrible political coup usurps their noble house, Hawke and Grayson flee to stay alive and assume new identities, Hanna and Grayce. Desperation and chance lead them to the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women who spin the threads of reality to their will.
As the twins learn more about the Communion, and themselves, they begin to hatch a plan to avenge their family and retake their royal home. While Hawke wants to return to his old life, Grayce struggles to keep the threads of her new life from unraveling, and realizes she wants to stay in the one place that will allow her to finally live as a girl.
It’s no secret that asexual representation is seriously lacking throughout middle grade and YA lit. (Actually, ace representation is just lacking everywhere.) But no fear, Rick is here to help change that!
Rick's never questioned much. He's gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff's acted like a bully and a jerk. He's let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn't given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.
But now Rick's gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school's Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that ... understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.