A school library is a bank of empathy, from which students make a withdrawal every time they borrow a book.
What distinguishes reading fiction from watching television or films is that, when reading, we are creating the world in our own mind, becoming the characters and letting the story happen to us, rather than watching it happen to other people.
We’re walking a mile in another’s shoes to the deepest extent that anyone can. This can make us feel less alone, it can give us the courage to be ourselves, and it can open the door to other worlds, enabling us to understand other people.
When it comes to fostering wellbeing, acceptance and harmony in a school community, an inclusive collection in the school library is a must.
LGBTQ+ books for your school library
There are more and more excellent LGBTQ+ books coming out all the time, but these are six of the best, and they are all suitable for students from Year 9 and upwards:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets Of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This devastatingly beautiful book evokes a sultry summer in 1980s Texas so vividly that you can almost hear the cicadas. Mexican-American teen loners Ari and Dante meet at the local swimming pool and become inseparable. It will be tested, but this is a friendship that’s special – life-changing, in fact – and that will teach them a lot about who they are, and who they want to become.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
The half-Iranian protagonist’s voice is what sets this book apart; his musings on identity, family, his insecurities and Star Trek are sweetly personal and vulnerable. All this and the reader gets to spend the most atmospheric summer holiday in Iran, smelling the spices and tasting the sweet tea.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
The sequel to the also excellent Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, this coming-of-age tale is about a bisexual teenage girl learning to own her differences, even as the world begins to shift around her. An uplifting read for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
New girl at school Amanda has a secret that gets harder to keep the closer she gets to her new friends: she used to be Andrew. This story’s power lies in its ability to put you right in Amanda’s place and have you feeling her conflict, and marvelling at her courage.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Originally written as Harry Potter fan-fiction within another of Rowell’s novels, this book has become a cult global phenomenon. What would have happened if Harry had fallen in love with Draco Malfoy? This book, first of a trilogy, puts its own unique twist on the “chosen one” trope.
Heartstopper (Volume 1) by Alice Oseman
First of a series, this charming and beautifully illustrated graphic novel tells the story of schoolboys Nick and Charlie falling for each other. It is told with such tenderness and heart, in a way that is relatable and accessible. Also, graphic novels act as an excellent gateway to reading for even the most reluctant of readers.
Kate Ling is an author and librarian at an international secondary school in Spain