What's Up in YA

Show Your YA Pride: LGBTQ+ Book Displays from Around The World

This Week’s “What’s Up in YA?” newsletter is sponsored by A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry: 

a fierce and subtle poisonSome say she grants wishes. Some say her touch kills. One boy is drawn into her enchanted world.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives in Puerto Rico, where he’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, Isabel. When letters from Isabel begin appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers—and finds himself lured into her strange and magicalworld. But the more entangled Lucas becomes, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life. Nova Ren Suma, bestselling author of The Walls Around Us, calls A Fierce and Subtle Poison “a breathtaking story in which myths come to frightening life and buried wishes may actually come true.”

In light of June being Pride month, and more, because there’s a whole lot to think about in the wake of the horrific tragedy at Pulse in Orlando, I wanted to take the opportunity to do something a little bit different for this week’s YA newsletter. Rather than share my own commentary or do a massive round-up of links, I thought some power would come through instead allowing others to share their support for and of the LGBTQ+ community.

I asked librarians, booksellers, educators, and anyone else who has seen or built a book display for Pride month to share an image or two with me. The response was unbelievable. From huge, elaborate displays to acknowledgements in smaller, tighter spaces, seeing how people support the LGBTQ YA community leaves me a little brighter, fuller, and more whole. In a world where there is so much darkness and hurt, it’s powerful to see these tiny acts. It might not feel like a book display does a whole lot, but if the response to this newsletter alone is any indication, small display after small display after small display through hundreds and thousands of libraries and bookstores amounts to something much bigger.

The LGBTQ+ community is shown on our shelves. Is seen in our displays. And is cared about.

Below are all of the displays I’ve received via email. I’ve included commentary from those who have sent in the images, too. These displays get books moving, as well as encourage readers who might not be part of the LGBTQ+ community to take an interest, to learn, and to develop a healthy sense of empathy for the people who live right alongside them.

If you are in the position of being able to develop book displays or book lists or share YA books with young readers, I encourage you to consider revisiting these books, sharing them how you can, and displaying them not just in June (or October for LGBTQ month), but year round. Incorporate them into your book recommendations, into your regular reading rotations, and be willing to talk, to share, and to advocate on behalf of the stories and the young people who sometimes can’t find the way to do it for themselves. It’s through these books they can better develop the language. . . and their sense of belonging.



Amy Diegelman’s display at Vineyard Haven Public Library, Vineyard Haven, MA. 



Nicole Harris found this display in the Chesterfield County Virginia North Courthouse branch over the weekend: “I was so happy to see it there along side the YA new releases since teens flock to see what new books are available.”




My name is Emily and I’m an editor with a small publishing company here in Halifax on the east coast of Canada. I wanted to share this display from Halifax Central Library. I don’t believe they’re all YA books, but it’s so pretty. 🙂 (The sign at the top says “Happy Pride Month!”)


From Lauren Gibaldi: I work at the Alafaya Library (part of the Orange County Library System) and this is the display I made for our YA section. Like I said, most books have been checked out (yay!!!), so I’ve had to replenish daily. I’ve had it up since June 1st and we haven’t had one complaint.  Fun fact: None of the Above went first. Second most popular were f/f books.



From Deby Fry: This is ours for the Gum Spring Library in South Riding, VA. We’re a part of the Loudoun County Public Library system in Virginia. The day I put it out, I heard a group of girls gathered around a table talking about some of the books they’d already read and loved, and they picked up a few to take home!



From Michelle Ross: Here’s a pic of a YA display at the Main Branch of Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston, WV. This pic was taken only a few minutes after I put the display up and someone had already grabbed two books.

I also have free, LGBTQIA+ bookmark printables available to download from my blog here.


From Renata Sancken: I have a Pride display on our digital carousel (that shows on the catalog computers throughout the library). You can view the whole carousel right here

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Both displays above are from Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina, and the titles were selected by Miciah Bennett and Thomas Maluck.


Danielle Mohlman sent this snap she grabbed of the window display in her local indie, Secret Garden Books in Seattle, Washington.


From Jessica Spotswood: This is the Pride display I made for our teen section – the Southwest Neighborhood Library of the DC Public Library. She writes: “I’m not sure if teens in this neighborhood would feel safe checking them out. But it feels important to me that we have the display and they see us celebrating Pride.” 



From Nicole Brinkley: We have two displays at Oblong Books — one at our Millerton store (top) and our Rhinebeck store (bottom).


From Robin Johnsen: Here is the display from the Dyer-Schererville Branch of Lake County Public Library (Indiana). This is just the YA books side. The other side of the table has adult books and kids books.


From Rebecca Speas: Our Pride display at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA. It’s not a strictly YA display, since we tried to put up an array of genres, but we did include CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell, WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD by Christopher Barzak, GEORGE by Alex Gino, and LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley (one of our favorite local authors!)

This display was created by myself and fellow OMP staffer Amanda Quain, and we have already sold a copy of Lies We Tell Ourselves as a gift since it’s been displayed.

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From Paige McGeorge at Lethbridge Public Library in Alberta, Canada: I’ve included some pics of our physical book displays, plus a shot of our featured Overdrive ebook collection. They’ve both proved very popular, which is so great to see.


Erikka set up this display at the library where she works.

North Tonawanda PL Pride Display

From Caitlin Kenney: I work at the North Tonawanda Public Library in North Tonawanda, New York, and told my co-worker, Kelly, about your newsletter and she liked the idea, so I took a picture of her Pride display she made for the teen department. She’s had to fill it a few times already, which is great! 


Via Ruth Compton: Arlington County’s Central Library in Virginia. Display created by Alex Zealand.

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From Becky Canovan: This is the display in the library at the University of Dubuque. She writes, “It was a conscious choice to keep this display small so it fit in our highest traffic area of the summer, next to our printers. We also have the digital sign as part of the rotation on our screen in our entryway.”


From Rosie Bromberg: This is the current teen room display at the Poulsbo Library, part of Kitsap Regional Libraries, in Poulsbo, Washington. Of course, the books didn’t stay in rainbow order for long.




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From Vee: I got a chance to make a Pride Display at Addendum Books, so I thought I’d send it your way (top image). I had a SUPER fun time making it. I have the books roughly sorted by genre. 🙂 I haven’t had a shift since I made it, so I don’t know what’s been popular, but every time I pass by the store on the bus the display gets a lot of glances.

I also got to make a resource sheet for the library I work at (Highland Park in Saint Paul)!


Display at the Alameda Free Library in Alameda, California and made by the Teen Librarian, Hallie Fields. She writes, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Honor Girl were immediately checked out before I could even photograph the display.”


From Sarah Prineas: Attached is a picture of a display that I put together in the kids section at Prairie Lights, an independent bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa.  It includes a list of recommended books from a local teen reader, Luke Reynolds. 

And here’s Luke Reynolds’s recommendation list:

Recommended GLBT Young Adult Books from Luke Reynolds (West High School class of ’18)

  • Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (bisexual protagonist, free verse).
  • Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters (lesbian protagonist with relationship).
  • The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh (gay love interest and an adorable book to boot).
  • Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate (transexual and asexual/aromantic characters).
  • True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan (gay protagonist with gay romance, SO GOOD).
  • Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (gay protagonist with gay romance, science fiction).
  • The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater (gay romance and protagonist).
  • Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky (gay side characters, hilarious dark comedy).
  • Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (gay side character, hilarious contemporary).
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (gay protagonist, LOVE LOVE LOVE).
  • The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens (gay character who has passed away, thoughtful and quiet contemporary).
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (gay protagonists including one with gay parents, really nice debut with realistic portrayal of depression and LGBT issues)
  • Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas (gay side character, hilarious contemporary, plus prom!).
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (gay protagonist, unabashedly fun heist novel that had me on the edge of my seat)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (gay protagonist with romance, very cute and fun contemporary but serious at points).  *2016 Lambda Award Finalist
  • Tricks by Ellen Hopkins (gay protagonist, free verse novel about teenage prostitution that’s haunting and graphic but important).
  • George by Alex Gino (transgender protagonist; important and written in a very childlike but heartwarming way). *2016 Lambda Award Winner
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (gay romance).
  • Tilt by Ellen Hopkins (gay protagonist with romance, free verse novel that’s as heavy as a thunderstorm and can sometimes be painful).
  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (gay protagonist with gay romance, very cute and short).
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (gay protagonist with gay romance, this book is literally my everything)
  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (transgender and lesbian characters, absolutely hilarious black comedy that brought tears and a smile to my face, GIRL POWER!)
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (gay relationship/undertones, fun graphic novel).
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier (gay side character, she was literally my life at age 10).
  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (short story collection by a bunch of different authors, one gay romance story in there by Tim Federle).
  • Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters


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From Molly Wetta: Here are the displays from Lawrence (KS) Public Library. The first one is in the teen zone, the second one is by the welcome desk when you first walk into the building. The YA one has had books fly off of it – I restocked it before taking the picture.



From Robin Brenner at Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts: I put up this display on June 1st, especially to highlight the great variety of newer teen titles that have come out over the past year (although, happily, many of them were already out.)  Since I took these pictures, I added a good number of our nonfiction titles as well, and almost half of them are already gone.  It’s prominently displayed right outside our Teen Room, near our main elevator, and I’ve been gratified to see so many people checking out the display and grabbing titles.

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From Emily Charpentier: The following blog post includes the Pinterest board version of Uxbridge High School’s in-library Pride display and a photo of the in-library display

A member of the GSA asked me to put up a display for Pride Month, though unfortunately, all books are due back for the summer tomorrow, so there isn’t much checking out going on. Definitely promised another student that I wouldn’t take down the Pinterest board so she’d still be able to see the list of books on the display later when she could check some out, though. 


From Katelyn Attanasio: Here is the one I put together at Cascades Library in Potomac Falls, VA. It’s located at the front of our teen center and has been fairly popular. The books with gay male characters have been the most popular, but all of the books have been going over well. We also haven’t had any complaints about it this year!





From Angie Manfredi at Los Alamos County Library System, Los Alamos, New Mexico.





From Becky Greer at South Shore Regional Library.

Included on my display are the following books:

Adrian and the Tree of Secrets by Hubert

Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (in Spanish) by John Green & David Levithan

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Letters to Our Children: Lesbian and Gay Adults Speak to the New Generation Edited by Larry Dane Brimner

What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

On The Count of Three by Maureen Johnson

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

Not Otherwise Specified by  Hannah Moskowitz

There is also a list of the Rainbow Books with their YA selections:

I also put out LGBTQIA bookmarks, with a short list of books in those genres. We are down to 1 book mark, and I have already had to replace a few books like Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and I am J by Cris Beam.


From Chelsea Outlaw, a youth services associate at a library in Kansas.


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From Jess Gafkowitz: I’m the new YA librarian at the Sheepshead Bay branch for the Brooklyn Public Library. Attached are two photos of my tiny YA Pride display.


From Tina Dalton: I’m sending you a photo of the YA pride display for the Cuba Circulating Library in Cuba, NY.


From Ilana Soorenko: This Pride display is in the Teen Room at our library, the Queens Library at Flushing.  The display was a joint effort between myself and my coworker Christian Arffmann (he actually did the display board, and the choice of books was shared between us).  So far, I’ve mostly noticed that the comics (The New Avengers, Zodiac Starforce, Catwoman, X-men) and manga (Princess Jellyfish, Strawberry Panic, His Favorite) have been the items most checked out or returned to the display, but that’s not surprising considering how heavily browsed those collections are in general.


From Kathleen Breitenbach at Hamilton Township Public Library.


From Brandi Fong: Our Pride display at the Peace Dale Library in South Kingstown, RI.



From Andi, children’s bookseller at Foyles Grand Central Birmingham: The top is a display for Pride month, and below is the small year-round section the bookstore keeps of YA LGBTQ+ titles.



From Anna Haase Krueger: Pride display at the Ramsey County Public Library in Minnesota (more adult than YA, but I’m including it anyway!).



From Katie McLain: We have two up at our library: a Pride-specific display & a rainbow colored “I can’t remember the title but the cover was…” display.  I set up the Pride display, and my Reference coworker, Priscilla Resendiz, set up the rainbow colored display. These are from the Waukegan Public Library in Waukegan, IL.


From Maria Padian: Pride at Curtis Library in Brunswick, Maine!

Finally, I want to end with the display and related commentary that perhaps will be the one that requires your tissues, if you’re not already there…

you belong

And that is how you do it.


I know I promised a giveaway in this newsletter, but I’m going to hold off until the next issue. Instead, pick up one of the books or two of the books or piles of the books you’ve seen in the displays above and dig into some great reading.

Keep rocking, YA folks. <3

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