Need suggestions for summer reading? CNN asked authors for their favorite LGBTQ books for children and teens.

A guide to LGBTQ summer reading for kids and teens -- from authors themselves

Updated 1:11 PM ET, Thu June 16, 2022

(CNN)Books that feature LGBTQ characters can be mirrors for young readers in which they can see themselves reflected. But, for the same reason, they're also frequently banned in schools or libraries.

Getting these books into young readers' hands can be challenging if they're banned, but these works can build self-awareness and acceptance among readers of all backgrounds, Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the American Library Assocation told CNN in 2020.
"Books, novels, true stories and memoirs are ways of developing empathy for other people and their lives," Caldwell-Stone told CNN at the time. "If we take that away from young people, we're really depriving them of opportunities to develop as individuals, to understand the world."
To highlight some exemplary LGBTQ books, CNN sought recommendations from authors whose own works have been celebrated (and, often, banned) for highlighting LGBTQ characters. They delivered: Below you'll find more than 20 suggestions to add to your family's summer reading list, from picture books for preschoolers to YA graphic novels, all of which center LGBTQ protagonists or address topics like gender identity and sexuality.

Alex Gino

Gino has written several books that follow queer and trans protagonists, including "Melissa," which follows a trans fourth grader who desperately wants to play the titular spider in a school production of "Charlotte's Web." They've also published "Rick," about a student who stands up to his homophobic best friend, and "Alice Austen Lived Here," about two nonbinary students who uncover the hidden queer history of Staten Island.
Gino said of their picks, which are excerpted below: "These are just some of my personal favorites, focusing on the last few years. There are all sorts of LGBTQIA+ books I haven't read, or even heard of." They recommended checking out the American Library Association's Rainbow Book List for more suggestions on LGBTQ literature.
Picture books
  • "Worm Loves Worm," by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato: Worm meets worm. Worm falls in love with worm. Worm marries worm. A sweet, simple tale of love mattering more than species, societal expectations or the matter of which worm wears the tux at the altar.
  • "Jerome By Heart," by Thomas Scotto and illustrated by Olivier Tallec: Young Raphael loves his friend Jerome. Even if he doesn't have the language to express the importance of his relationship with his best friend, Raphael knows how to embrace it.
"Too Bright to See," Kyle Lukoff
Middle grade
  • "Too Bright to See," Kyle Lukoff: This Newbery honor book follows a soon-to-be-sixth-grader coming to terms with their transness -- oh, and a ghost haunting their house.
  • "Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle," Robin Stevenson: This nonfiction work for young readers explores significant moments in LGBTQ history and explains the importance of activism to keep making LGBT