Queer Friendly Kid Lit: What’s out there?

416ubJN7rbLThanks to a fantastic article from The Atlantic on Disney’s long-standing incorporation of LGBT issues into the films and operations of the production company, we’ve been thinking about queer friendly kid lit. And we weren’t surprised to learn that a lot of people are thinking – and writing! – about it too.

One book we’re proud to carry in the ITA is Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat (published in 1989!), a teen reader’s stylized introduction to issues surrounding homosexuality. But there are so many others out there, like Stephen Chbosky’s classic The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the young adult crowd, and children’s books And Tango Makes Three and Daddy’s Roommate.

Over the last few years, more and more authors are publishing young adult novels that not only approach but delve deeply into the experience of growing up with a queer identity. Here are just a few worth sharing with teens and parents to help make having the conversation about LGBT issues more frequent and balanced. Tell us in the comments if you’ve read more!

Modern Makeovers for Judy Blume Covers

untitledThough a good book never goes out of style, a sprucing up of a cover is sometimes all it takes to breathe new life into an old classic. Such is the case for the incomparable teen novels by Judy Blume.  Publisher Simon and Schuster have recently enlisted the help of Toronto based artist Debbie Ridpath Ohi to help give Blume classics such as, “Blubber” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” a slick new look, sure to catch the attention of tweens and teens everywhere. The latest creations ooze with vibrant elegance, much like the characters in her stories.  Each cover is simplistic but bold, using bright pops of colour and playful objects to compliment the title; a loose font reminiscent of any adolescent diary entry.

It’s not easy these days to be a successful novel that doesn’t begin immediately with a massive action sequence or have a blockbuster film version in the works.  This is where Blume’s works’ separate themselves and, dare I say, bloom.  Her books are meant to be savoured, not devoured, and reflect the more realistic, ebb and flow-like movements of the teen experience.  The covers themselves symbolize a similar thought, using bright colours over blank space to suggest the simultaneous ups and downs, highs and lows, and drama and boredom that make up the awkward teenage experience.

Though some of these books have made their debut as early as the 1970s, Blume’s work seems to transcend time by writing about topics every teen from every generation has dealt with. This literary face lift, due out later this month, is sure to bring Judy Blume novels to the attention of a new generation of young readers, and sure to keep the immortality of her words alive for years to come.

Check out the article here:


P.S. Check out this excellent conversation between Judy Blume and Girl’s star Lena Dunham, touching on many topics including the importance adolescent reading has had on their own writing:


What you can learn from the TPL’s new Hoopla streaming service (Hint: A LOT!)

You know what they say – having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card! Here in Toronto, our library cards are unlocking so much more than traditional books lately. 3D printers and filmmaking equipment are recent additions to the collection, and just yesterday, the TPL introduced Hoopla, a movie and music streaming service.

TPL cardholders can access an archive of more than 10,000 films and 250,000 albums, and families will be delighted by a wide selection of animated and feature film favourites like Babe and Billy Elliott and educational videos, from language learning to beginner’s yoga.

But what struck us at Story Planet is an extensive selection of documentaries – for all ages! We’ve done a bit of the legwork and picked out five favourites to help you get started, but we’d love to know which docs you’d recommend for our Story Planet students and staff.

1. Dear. Mr. Watterson (2013) – An inside look at the creation of Calvin & Hobbes, the “best comic strip in the history of the universe.” (That’s the documentary talking, not us…necessarily.) 

2. The Sci-Fi Boys (2006) – Peter Jackson, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ray Bradubry…the list goes on! This doc peeks behind the fourth wall of special effects to reveal how it’s done and who’s doing it.

3. Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story (2011) – Have you played Monopoloy? Have your parents played Monopoly? Have your parents’ parents played Monopoly? Probably. Find out why! 

4. Kings of Pastry (2010) – It’s probably a good idea to stock up on sweets before settling in with these pastry greats. But if you have an aspiring chef in your family, this doc is a visual feast that will surely inspire (and probably make you hungry.) 

5. Afghan Star (2009) – Pop culture is returning to Afghanistan after years of unrest, but it’s still dangerous to be a performer. Afghan Star is Tolo TV’s American Idol-style singing competition and this doc follows the four young finalists who risk everything to become their country’s next music icon.