My second year on the Rainbow List is finished and I have some thoughts

Sometimes we fight over what titles will end up on the list, but all-in-all, it's a great team of people.  Not pictured, our chair Naomi Gonzales, one of my very favorite people.
Sometimes we fight over what titles will end up on the list, but all-in-all, it’s a great team.
Not pictured, our chair Naomi Gonzales, one of my very favorite people.

When I first heard about the Rainbow List, I was so excited to see that there was a project that seemed perfectly suited for my particular interests. At the time, there was nothing else in ALA I had any interest of joiningThe whole concept of the committee sounded fun, useful, and an important resource for readers and librarians. Before I even joined the list, I used it as a collection development tool to make sure my library’s selection was well-rounded and inclusive.

My time on the Rainbow List has imparted me with a very solid understanding of LBGTQ kids’ and teen lit, to the point that I have been asked to do paid speaking engagements on the topic. Two years on the Rainbow List forces you to concentrate on a specific segment of youth literature and, by the time your term is over, you’re a bit of an expert. My experience on the list has been rewarding and personally special to me. This year, when we finally decided on our Top Ten titles, I got a little choked up. All I could think of was, “We made this. We did this!”

highly recommend considering a term on the Rainbow List. You need to be a GLBTRT member, which, at fifteen dollars a year, is one of the best deals in ALA. Click here for the volunteer form. Be sure to join the RT before you fill out the form.

ETA: I want to be extra clear: The 2015 Rainbow List committee has already been appointed. So, plan ahead if you want to be a 2016 participant.

Click here for this year’s list. I am particularly excited about our selections this year. Compared to last year’s list, we have a larger selection of picture books and titles that speak to the trans* experience. I expect that next year, the list will see even more. You know what would be cool, too? More middle grade LBGTQ fiction. Tim Federle might want to take a year off. We need more voices!

I thought that, here, I’d take the time to list our Rainbow List selections that include diverse characters. The Rainbow List is diverse in nature, in that all of the titles have LBGTQ characters. However, here are some titles that go even further. I think it’s important to note this, especially for collection development and readers advisory purposes. #weneeddiversebooks! Now! Forever!

I know that some of the ethnicities listed below aren’t considered to be POC, but I felt the need to include them. I hope you find it useful.

  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva centers around an Armenian-American family.
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, one of my personal favorites, has a Persian-American protagonist. Sara Farizan does it again!
  • Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata is so much fun. The plot revolves around four girls, including Harumi, who is of Japanese descent. Harumi is not the queer character, it should be noted.
  • Austin’s Polish heritage plays a big part in Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle. I would also like to note that the Rainbow List receives very few positive portrayals of bisexual characters. It was refreshing to see a protagonist as well thought-out as Austin. #donteatthecorn
  • Sophie, in Tess Sharpe’s Far From You, lives with a disability brought about by chronic pain. In addition, she is a recovering drug addict.
  • One of the books that I simply could not put down was Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Darcy Patel, one of the two main characters, is of Indian descent.
  • Though the teen featured on the cover of Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin is white, the teens included in the title are very diverse. Same goes for the teens found in We Are the Youth: Sharing the Stories of LGBT Youth in the United States. I highly recommend purchasing both of these non-fiction titles. They are informative and beautiful to look at.
  • Previously, I have gushed about both Not Every Princess and This Day in June. If your picture book collection does not include these two titles, it is incomplete. If the diverse children and families in these two books don’t melt your cold, cold little heart, I just don’t understand you.

If you are considering being on the Rainbow List and you have some questions that I haven’t answered in this post or here or here, you know where to find me. I am happy to answer any questions you might have. I really believe in the work of the Rainbow List and will continue to follow its lists even though I am no longer on the committee.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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5 thoughts on “My second year on the Rainbow List is finished and I have some thoughts

  1. Thank you so much for posting these titles. It’s so hard to go out and look for diverse LGBTQ books of quality. I didn’t know about this committee and it’s reports and now I know where to look. I loved Grasshopper Jungle and I have “I’ll Give You the Sun” sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I’ll be checking out other titles and recommending them to my students.

      1. I absolutely will! It’s great to have a screened list of recommended books. I really like the ‘juried’ lists instead of the full reviews that tend to prejudice me one way or another toward a book before I read it. All I need to know is that people love a book and recommend it. The rest, I would rather judge for myself. I hope that makes sense!

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