Book Recommendations

last updated June 8, 2021

Adult Books

The Gay Agenda: A Modern Queer History & Handbook by Ashley Molesso & Chessie Needham 

Compiled and designed by the founders of the popular stationery company Ash + Chess, The Gay Agenda is an inviting and entertaining guide that pays tribute to the LGBTQ+ community. This is a joyful celebration of the community’s development, history, and culture, packed with facts, trivia, timelines, and charts, and featuring 100 full-color illustrations. This fabulous compendium illuminates the transformation of the community, highlighting its struggles, achievements, landmarks, and contributions. It also salutes iconic members of the LGBTQ+ community—the celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens who have made a notable impact on gay life and society itself. The Gay Agenda is a nostalgic look back for older generations, an archive for younger people, and a helpful introduction for those interested in learning more about the community and its contributions. This magnificent digest is a keepsake honoring all LGBTQ+ and the ongoing fight to gain and maintain equality for all. (e-book available at Axis360;  audiobook available at Hoopla)

Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia by Thom Nickels

The diverse landscape of gay and lesbian Philadelphia is a story of highs and lows. From rustic post-Civil War days when Camden poet Walt Whitman crossed the Delaware River on a ferry or caroused Market Street “eyeing” the grocery boys to the beginnings of ACT UP more than one hundred years later, the gay and lesbian community in Philadelphia has never lost its flair for the dramatic. Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia is a historical look at the neighborhoods, events, and people that have been a part of this community. The 1920s saw the birth of private dance bars on Rittenhouse Square. It was a time when drag shows in straight bars were the order of the day, as was the presence of men in drag during the annual Mummer’s Parade on New Year’s Day. The pre-Civil Rights era, when segregation was the status quo, saw the proliferation of African American house parties in neighborhoods such as North Philadelphia, where black gays and lesbians formed a community. During the 1950s and 1960s, Rittenhouse Square was the site of informal public gatherings. These gatherings of friends and strangers helped set the stage for the Annual Reminder, the first public protest in support of “homosexual equal rights”, which took place every Fourth of July at Independence Hall. Throughout all of these eras, members of the community faced challenges, celebrated victories, and continued to try to blend their lives with those of their gay and straight neighbors. (e-book available at Hoopla)

Teen Book

Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens (2nd Edition) by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke

This second edition offers a solid foundation of knowledge for LGBTQ teens and those who want to better understand what it means to be queer. Topics include self-acceptance, coming out, dating, and sex. The information is general enough to fit a broad range of issues into just over 200 pages, but readers will still find many of their questions answered. The extensive resources will help them fill in additional information needs. Readers will learn about stereotypes, homophobia, and how to find a community of peers to provide a safe space. Hate and homophobia are handled with more nuance than in similar texts. The book examines what leads to hate and how teens can address it. Included in the text are a relationship quiz to identify any unhealthy behaviors and a table of sexually transmitted infections with symptoms and treatments. Belge and Bieschke use their respective experiences to illustrate the situations these teens may find themselves in. This updated title gives teens the information needed to navigate their world, but, more important, it also helps them understand and accept themselves. (e-book available at  eLibraryNJ and Hoopla)

Children’s Books

 Benny’s True Colors by Norene Paulson.  Recommended for Ages 5-6.

Discover the joy of being your true self in this uplifting and empowering picture book about Benny, who looks like a bat but knows that he really is a butterfly. Benny may look like a bat, but Benny doesn’t like flying at night, or eating bugs, or hanging upside down. Benny does like sunshine and fluttering and colorful wings. On the inside, Benny knows he is a butterfly!“I want my outside to match who I am inside!” With the help of some butterfly friends in the garden, Benny makes a happy change. And his friends and his Momma all love him just the same. (Axis 360)

Born Ready by Jodi Patterson.  Recommended for Ages 6-7.

Penelope knows that he’s a boy. (And a ninja.) The problem is getting everyone else to realize it. (Axis 360)

Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass.  Recommended for Ages 8-9

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.(Axis 360)

 Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jen Bigelow.  Recommended for Ages 9-11.Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods. But this summer brings a lot of big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock n&; roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?(Axis 360)