“Yes. . .I Have Those Kind of Books.” by Paul W. Hankins
The first and most enduring award for GLBT books is the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. Since Isabel Miller’s Patience and Sarah received the first award in 1971, many other books have been honored for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.
The Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award, the Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award and the Stonewall Book Award-Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award are presented to English language works published the year prior to the announcement date. The award is announced in January and presented to the winning authors or editors at the American Library Association Annual Conference in June or July. The award winners each receive a commemorative plaque and $1,000.
Here is a backlist of some of the Stonewall Book Award Winners from the past few years. The American Library Association website offers even more titles that can be added to school and classroom libraries.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchio
Better Nate Than Never by Tim Federle
Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman
And the list goes back and back and back. Forty-five years of recognizing titles that address the interests, questions, and needs of readers looking for these kind of books.
More recently, in Room 407, the student walked away with a copy of Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta and Ken Setterington’s Branded by the Pink Triangle. Probably excited that he might learn more about issues related to transgenderism told in narrative by those his age and the prospect of adding to his knowledge of the Holocaust (and his interest in the book, Night), I noted that the young man held both books against his chest when leaving.
I know that method of bearing a load. Especially when it is a book load. We carry close to the vest. Close to the chest. This is the first contact the book makes with the heart.
I’ve probably lost both of those books.
When we talk of books that meet the interest, questions, and needs of a reader–no matter the subject or themes–we stand to lose these books to love. And. . .in this case. . .it is better to have lost TO love than to have never been able to love at all.
LGBTQPIA titles are those that are often checked out quietly. And lost frequently. I’ll think about a title that I want to offer to a reader knowing its place upon the shelf only to find that the book is not there when I look for it.
It was there when a reader needed it.
And there is no better way to discover that a book has been lost than to realize that–when it really mattered–it was found.
Because we have “those kind of books.”