Artwork by Aixa Perez-Prado
June is Pride Month and there is so much to talk about when it comes to middle-grade books and representation. I thought a great way to explore this topic would be by doing a deep dive into book talk on Tik Tok. In case you’re not familiar, Tik Tok is the platform that so many people are using to talk about books. I assumed it would be easy to find lots of MG recommendations and reviews for Pride Month, but it wasn’t. Most of the #booktok I found did not pertain to books aimed at middle grade audiences, or books that feature LGBTQIA+ characters. Don’t get me wrong, there are some creators out there ‘book–toking’ about MG + LGBTQIA+, but I couldn’t find many whose platforms focus on those two areas. Still, there was a lot to discover, and some great accounts to follow.
But first, for those who aren’t sure how TikTok works, a brief overview. This platform started with music and dance videos but has since morphed into just about everything videos. Remember the Vine app from back in the day? Tik Tok is kind of like that, but the videos are longer and the app more sophisticated with lots of fun effects. If you’re interested in books, you can find plenty of people talking about them on this app. All you have to do is search for the right hashtags. These include; #booktok, #mg #ya #kidlit and other hashtags related to books and book lovers.
Once you start following the creators you like, you will find that they reference other creators to follow. That way you can start building up your list of bookish TikTok accounts. Be careful though, you can really go down a TikTok rabbit hole once you get started. Some of the content is intriguing, hilarious, and even addicting. The dark circles under my eyes are proof that once you get on TikTok, it can be hard to get off!
It’s good to know the commonly used acronyms that the bookish accounts often feature. Here are just a few of them that I’ve seen over and over.
- TBR – to be read
- DNF – did not finish
- ARC – advanced reader copies
- CR – current read
- FRTC – full review to come
Accounts to Follow
There is a lot out there created by and for young people who love books. Most of what I’ve found is geared towards YA, often with an MG title or two mixed in. Some videos show lots of different book covers that the creator recommends without really talking about the books. I find those less helpful than the ones where the creator gives a run-down of what they like about the book and why. In addition to accounts run by book fans, there are also authors, agents, teachers, and editors to follow who give recommendations and information on diverse books, new releases, writing, book promoting, and breaking down stereotypes in kidlit. Below are just a few of the LGBTQIA+ and MG friendly accounts that I found and recommend following.
- @jeremy.l.williams – middle school teacher features MG book recommendations, and has uploaded a number of videos centered on pride month with book recommendations
- @averyqueerbookclub – loads of recommendations on books with queer representation, including marginalized groups within the queer community.
- @mx.segal – middle school teacher with a great video that features lots of diverse MGs
- @luna_with_love – lots of queer book recommendations, mostly YA, some MG
- @endlessfairytales – features many recommendations for diverse books, mostly YA some MG
- @samisbookshelf – many informative videos to help diversify you book selections, mostly YA, some MG
- @caitsbooks – a wealth of videos on all kinds of books with heartfelt reviews and humor
- @literaticat – agent giving great advice on writing, books, and lots of humor
MG Tik Tok Book Recommendations for Pride Month & Beyond
Hunting through the multitude of YA videos, I was able to find the MG books below that are a great addition to any bookshelf, and an especially appropriate group of reads for Pride Month. These books often feature not only LGBTQIA+ characters, but also characters who are diverse in different ways. Several of the creators in the list above included these books in their recommended readings.
George by Alex Gin
A middle grade novel that features a queer younger MG protagonist. Melissa is a trans girl who isn’t sure about how to be her authentic self until the class play gives her an opportunity to be a girl on stage. But when she’s kept from auditioning because they think she’s a boy, Melissa has to decide what to do. This one is recommended in many Tik Tok videos by middle grade teachers.
The Moon Within by Aida Salazar
This novel-in-verse coming of age story includes a trans character who is the protagonist’s best friend. The main character experiences her first period, her first attraction to a boy, and her best friend coming out as genderfluid, then identifying as a boy. Black, Puerto Rican, Mexican, and LGBTQ characters offer diverse perspectives in this compelling middle grade novel.
The stars beneath our feet by David Barclay Moore
This novel is a winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for new Talent and will soon be a major motion picture. The story focuses on a young boy whose brother has died as a result of gang violence. He has to navigate a new life along with his mother and her girlfriend using creativity and community to make his way.
Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
Caroline is a twelve year old dealing with a lot of difficulties including bullying, a spirit only she can see, and the loss of her mother. When she finally befriends a new student and develops a crush on her, they end up working together to find Caroline’s mother.
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Callie, a theater lover, is the set designer for the drama department, and she’s determined to create a Broadway worthy set despite her middle school budget. But she runs into trouble when ticket sales are down, the crew has trouble working together, the actors bring their drama off stage and a couple of cute brothers are in the picture.
((Enjoying this Pride Month book list? Check out this one too!))
Happy Pride Month!
Those are just a few of the many books you can find for middle grade that feature LGBTQIA+ characters. Tik Tok is only one place to look for these books, and it could use more accounts focused on middle grade kidlit. I just started my own TikTok account @aixasdoodlesandbooks. I have posted just one video so far with Picture Book recommendations. By the time this blogpost comes out I’ll hopefully have my second video with MG recommendations for Pride Month. Meanwhile, I hope to find and follow more accounts posting on MG. Let me know if I should follow you!
Artwork by Aixa Pérez-Prado