Queer Coded: Kids Edition

In honour of the launch of Kids Lit Space, in this Queer Coded segment we thought we would share some heartfelt young queer reads. Over there years there has been more development in creating queer Young Adults and Children literary spaces. It’s great way for kids to connect to another and learn about others and their own identity. Read more about the titles below.

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In the Key of Dale by Benjamin Lefebvre (Arsenal Pulp Press)

After Dale is unable to locate his father’s grave at the cemetery, he starts writing letters addressed to his father, initially to tell him everything he can’t bring himself to tell his mother and soon as a way to keep track of some unexpected developments. Somewhat against his will, he befriends his classmate Rusty, who gets a rare look at Dale’s complex life outside school. Their friendship gets awkward when it seems Dale’s growing attraction to Rusty is doomed to remain one-sided, but it’s to Rusty that Dale turns when he stumbles upon a family secret. Ages 14 and up.

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom (Metonymy Press)

A haunted young girl (who happens to be a kung-fu expert and pathological liar) runsaway from an oppressive city, where the sky is always grey, in search of love and sisterhood–and finds herself in a magical place known only as the Street of Miracles. There, she is quickly adopted into a vigilante gang of glamorous warrior femmes called the Lipstick Lacerators, whose mission is to scour the Street of violent men and avenge murdered trans women everywhere. But when disaster strikes, can our intrepid heroine find the truth within herself in order to protect her new family and heal her broken heart? Young Adult Fiction.

My Sister’s Girlfriend by Gail Marlene Schwartz & Lucie Gagnon (Rebel Mountain Press)

Fifth grader Talia Cohen-Sullivan isn’t sure how she feels about boys, crushes, and the love thing even though her best friend, Carmen, is already dreaming about kissing–and it’s only September. Losing her mom to cancer a few years ago made Talia afraid of change, though she still has her big sister, Jade, to help her through hard times. But when she sees Jade kissing a girl, Talia is suddenly thrust into a world she doesn’t understand and faces important decisions. With the help of her therapist, and Carmen, and Jade herself, Talia learns that love has many faces; love might even be something she’s interested in soon . . . for herself. Children’s Fiction.

I am Everything In Between by Sydney Sunderland (Rebel Mountain Press)

Sometimes it’s not as simple as being a boy or a girl. I Am Everything In Between highlights kids who may not fit into stereotypical gender ideals, and celebrates how they do identify by sending positive messages about gender identity. This book teaches children that regardless of biological gender, it’s OK to feel like a boy, or a girl, or even both! The illustrations include bright and bold examples of boys that like to play dress up and wear makeup, girls that like to play sports and get dirty, and kids that want to grow up to be astronauts! I Am Everything In Between uses diverse, relatable examples to help kids understand that sometimes it’s not as simple as being a boy or a girl. Teacher resources available on publisher website: rebelmountainpress. com/i-am-everything-in-between-teacher-resources. Children’s Fiction, Picture Book.

The Boy & the Bindi written by Vivek Shraya & illustrated by Rajni Perera (Arsenal Pulp Press)

In this beautiful children’s picture book by Vivek Shraya, author of the acclaimed God Loves Hair, a five-year-old boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by South Asian women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself. Ages 4 to 8

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What would you like to see featured on Queer Coded? Let us know in the comments below or on social channels at @alllitupcanada.