Trans Rights Readathon – Middle Grade Reads

As I mentioned before, I’m participating in the Trans Rights Readathon. While I love reading grown up books and the whole thing, what re-sparked my love of reading a few years ago was the vast potential of children’s books to delight, to educate, and to expand horizons.

We’ve been lucky enough to have raised a reader. Whether that’s from our own efforts to read together, or our own inclinations towards reading ourselves, or some combination of those things, I’m happy about it. I’m always looking for new books for us to share and talk about, so we read together or separately, and it is just really fun and is a great thing to connect on.

Anyway, since it’s also Middle Grade March, I wanted to find some middle grade reads written by trans and non-binary authours. I haven’t read all of these, but I am planning to. Some helpful folks suggested a few more to me on twitter, some of which I checked out for myself, but I’ll list them here either way. All authours in this list have publicly claimed being trans or non-binary, so no assumptions are in play.

As a parent of a middle-grade level reader, and in response to the growing anti-trans movement targeting children, I feel like it’s especially important to have kid-friendly fiction that is written by trans and non-binary folks, and fiction where trans and non-binary kids can see themselves represented, as well as offering a window for cis kids to see something outside of their usual experience.

If you feel like donating, I am raising money for Skipping Stones and Trans Wellness Ontario here. Or you can donate directly to an organization or an individual.

Strange Worlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

I picked up the first book in the series because the cover caught my eye when browsing e-books, and then I ended up buying it so I could share it with the kid. They have so many great characters and the stories and worlds are so weird and wonderful.

Pre-order Jamie, which is coming out on Mar 30, 2023. If like me, you’re in Canada, you can order it from Blackwells, with free shipping to Canada.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

We read this together on Day 1 of the Trans Right’s Readathon. I enjoyed sharing this kid friendly adventurous tale with the child. It also inspired us to read more about Korean mythology and how it was connected to this tale as well. This book also has an educators guide put together by Disney Hyperion publishers, which helped weave this story into our literature study, and helped framed the discussion we had after the story.

We’re also going to read the rest of the series – next book is Tiger Honor which is out already, and Fox Snare will be published October 2023.

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

I got a signed copy from Toronto’s Bakka Pheonix nearly a year ago and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since. Judging by Xiran Jay Zhao’s other work – Iron Widow, which I liked quite a bit, I expected this to be a good one, and so far I’m really enjoying it. Bonus points: each chapter name is great.

Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the character development was rich and the world building was excellent. I love when I really feel a sense of care about the people in the story, and that was the case with this book.

Also recommended by others, and by Ash Van Otterloo – A Touch Of Ruckus. Their next book is coming out in May and is The Beautiful Something Else, and features non-binary rep.

The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill

This is a cozy vibes graphic novel series, and I tried reading it as an e-book, but I am hoping to get my hands on a paper copy because me and the kid do better with those for graphic novels. We also picked up the card game… just because. Kay has also written and illustrated a few other books – like The Moth Keeper and Princess Princess Ever After.

Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith

This is a big book that I bought a hardcopy of. It centres a non-binary teen struggling to find how they fit into society with rigid ideas of binary gender and associated roles. I read it, and absolutely loved it. The characters are lovable, there is a lot of growth, there is found family and good supportive role models, themes of forgiveness, and being yourself despite pressure to conform.

I loved how the protagonist was complicated and not always doing the right thing, but was consistent in terms of what you could expect the character to do based on their personality. I read this one via audiobook and hardcover, and I’d recommend either. The narrator on the

I’ve preordered the next book in the series, as it’s coming out later this year.

Books I haven’t read (yet):

I haven’t read these, but they all looked intriguing, and a few of them I’ve picked up to read during the week.

  • Anna on the Edge by A.J. Sass
    • Anna on the Edge is a novel about figure skating and identity and new friends. I’m also hoping to read Ellen Outside the Lines.
  • Hurricane Child by Kacen Callendar
  • Dear Mothman by Robin Gow
    • Robin Gow has also written A Million Quiet Revolutions (which is a young adult book in verse).
  • Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
    • I picked this one up, but Kyle Lukoff has written several other books, including several Mermaid Days (which is for early readers), When Aidan Became a Brother and Call me Max (both picture books)

I’d love to head if you have any thoughts on any of these, or if you have more to suggest. Cheers! And happy readathon.