Whether you’re currently a tween navigating your mixed-up pre-teen years, or you’re an adult not-so-fondly looking back at your middle school memories, everyone can agree that those years are awkward. You’re growing up and discovering things for yourself. You’re creating your own opinions and you’re trying to figure out who you are! And sometimes that journey to self-discovery is really difficult. For queer tweens (and teens! And adults!) it can be especially hard to figure out what your identity is and finding the strength to proudly own it when the world isn’t always the most supportive place. These books are important for all readers: for those who see themselves in the characters to know they’re not alone and for others to open their minds to be more understanding of their peers who might be struggling with their identities. Three cheers for these queer novels!
by A. J. Sass
Ellen likes when things go according to plan but as we all know, life has a way of mixing things up when we least expect it. A.J. Sass’s second novel is a sweet coming-of-age story about changing views, new experiences, and figuring out this crazy adventure we call life. And don’t miss A.J.’s debut, Ana on the Edge!
Rain Reign meets Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World in this heartfelt novel about a neurodivergent thirteen-year-old navigating changing friendships, a school trip, and expanding horizons.
Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track.
Except it doesn't. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.
Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn't always stick to a planned itinerary.
In the midst of tornadoes, displaced family and all around chaos, Ivy Aberdeen is dealing with her own internal chaos. This beautiful novel illustrates the strength it takes to figure out your own identity and how powerful it is to share that identity proudly with the world.
In the wake of a destructive tornado, one girl develops feelings for another in this stunning, tender novel about emerging identity, perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.
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?
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World exquisitely enriches the rare category of female middle-grade characters who like girls–and children’s literature at large.
by Niki Smith
This stunning and cinematic graphic novel is a fabulous fantasy adventure, but with a powerful message of acceptance and coming to terms with your identity.
The Witch Boy meets The Legend of Korra in this breathtaking, epic graphic novel.
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.
by Rey Terciero
Illustrated by Bre Indigo
A fun, funny, and heartwarming twist on a classic! This graphic novel remix of Little Women breathes new life into the beloved story and really shows how each sister discovers their own identity.
Little Women with a twist: four sisters from a blended family experience the challenges and triumphs of life in NYC in this beautiful full-color graphic novel perfect for fans of Roller Girl and Smile.
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are having a really tough year: with their father serving in the military overseas, they must work overtime to make ends meet…and each girl is struggling in her own way. Whether it’s school woes, health issues, boy troubles, or simply feeling lost, the March sisters all need the same thing: support from each other. Only by coming together–and sharing lots of laughs and tears–will these four young women find the courage to discover who they truly are as individuals…and as a family.
by Lin Thompson
A deeply moving story that beautifully shows how difficult the journey to self-discovery can be, but how it is so worth it in the end. Heartbreaking in parts, but ultimately hopeful, this novel is an important reminder of the beauty of friendship, the power of found families, and the strength it takes in owning your truth.
In the woods of a small Kentucky town, Aubrey sets off on a journey about growing up, self-discovery, and acceptance while searching for their missing best friend—perfect for fans of King and the Dragonflies and Three Times Lucky.
Aubrey and Joel are like two tomato vines that grew along the same crooked fence—weird, yet the same kind of weird. But lately, even their shared weirdness seems weird. Then Joel disappears. Vanishes. Poof. The whole town is looking for him, and Aubrey was the last person to see Joel. Aubrey can’t say much, but since lies of omission are still lies, here’s what they know for sure:
- For the last two weeks of the school year, when sixth grade became too much, Aubrey and Joel have been building a raft in the woods.
- The raft was supposed to be just another part of their running away game.
- The raft is gone now, too.
Aubrey doesn’t know where Joel is, but they might know how to find him. As Aubrey, their friend Mari, and sister Teagan search along the river, Aubrey has to fess up to who they really are, all the things they never said, and the word that bully Rudy Thomas used that set all this into motion.
Being a tween is tough enough but throw in some magic and things get way more complicated. As Lilla tries to deal with everything from special powers to cute crushes, you’ll be cheering for her as she figures it all out in her own way.
Magic is tough. Family is tougher. Boys are a complete mystery. Follow Lilla as she stumbles her way through each of them in Eleanor Crewes’s uniquely illustrated debut middle-grade graphic novel.
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.