Award-Winning Queer Literature to Read During Rainbow Book Month

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June is Rainbow Book Month—a nationwide celebration of authors and writings that reflect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, genderqueer, queer, intersex, agender, and asexual community.

Looking for some great LGBTQIA+ reads? The American Library Association’s annual Stonewall Book Awards recognize exemplary contributions to queer literature. Winners are selected by members of ALA’s Rainbow Round Table and include books for readers of all ages.

The annual Stonewall honors includes the Barbara Gittings Literature Award, given to Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis in 2020. “Cantoras is the moving story of five women, creating their own community, while living under a dictatorship. It is the result of years of research and, despite taking place primarily in the 70s in Uruguay, feels very relevant to our times,” Dontaná McPherson-Joseph, chair of this year’s Barbara Gittings Literature Award committee, told I Love Libraries. “They carved out their own places to gather, quite literally in the story, and made their own language. Readers will find themselves experiencing every emotion, every beat of the story as if they were present.”

This year’s Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award went to How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones. “How We Fight For Our Lives is an exceptional example of LGBTQ+ literature because it is a beautifully written and visceral account of facing the dangers of a racist and homophobic society. Jones's exquisite writing draws the reader in, and conveys many emotions in few words,” Eric Hanshaw, Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award committee chair, shared. “Reading How We Fight For Our Lives feels like having an intimate conversation with Jones, one that remains with the reader long after Jones' tale is finished.”

The Stonewall Awards also recognize exceptional LGBTQIA+ books for youth through the Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award. In 2020, this award went to When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita and The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta with illustrations by Anshika Khullar.

Readers can support queer literature in libraries during Rainbow Book Month and beyond by spreading the word about the need for diverse books. “Make your voice heard. If there is a book challenge in your community, don't be afraid to stand up for the book,” Eric Hanshaw explained. Dontaná McPherson-Joseph adds: “Engage with and uplift stories by and about people outside of your experience, and recommend them to your friends and family. LGBTQ books are being written in every genre, so there really is something for every type of reader.”

Visit the Stonewall Awards website to view five decades of past award winners and honor books.

This year’s Stonewall winners will be honored as part of the American Library Association’s first-ever virtual Book Award Celebration. Tune in online at 12 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 28 to join the festivities.