2023 Youth Media Awards Debrief

Congratulations to the 2023 Stonewall Book Award winners and honors! We didn’t quite keep up with posting this year (again) but we wanted to take a moment to spotlight this year’s real slate of winners. Since there can never be too many LGBTQIA+ books celebrated, here’s a link to the 2023 Rainbow Book List too. Stonewall and Rainbow List are decided by completely different committees but help give a picture of all the noteworthy books this year.

Children’s Winner: Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, illustrated by Charlene Chua

Young Adult Winner: When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb

Children’s Honors: In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington; Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, illus. Daniel Sousa; The Real Riley Mayes by Rachel Elliot; and, Strong by Rob Kearney & Eric Rosswood, illus. Nidhi Chanani

Young Adult Honors: I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston; Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas; Man o’ War by Cory McCarthy; and, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson

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2022 Books by Previous Winners: YA

All (yes, all!) of 2022’s winners have new books coming out that are eligible for the 2023 award, in either children’s or YA. Knowing that much, we got curious: how broad a swath of past winners are represented by the books in this post? Turns out there’s at least one awardee from each of the past seven years of the award with a new queer YA book out this year. That’s pretty remarkable and seems to speak to the opportunities that the explosion of queer YA has given authors to publish more prolifically on LGBTQIA+ themes.

Note: We’ve purposefully excluded titles that appear to have limited queer content but if we’re missing something major, let us know in the comments.

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2022 Books By Previous Winners: Kids

As of January 2022, 8 of the 20 Stonewall Book Award winners have been for younger readers. Of those, 4 were middle grade and 3 were picture books. Only 1 board book has won. With the separation of the award into age categories, we predict more, more, more! Even without that change, this is our longest previous winners post yet (look for YA in part 2 soon). Of the 10 kids books here, 4 (yes, 4!) are by 2021 “Newstoneberrywall” winner Kyle Lukoff. Could it be his year again?

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2023, Here We Come!

Welcome back to another round of Stonewall Book Awards – Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award speculation! This year’s team (Alec, Dani, and Kazia) will be making our way through queer books for young people published in 2022 in anticipation of the 2023 award announcement—and we’ll be eager to hear your thoughts as we go. You can expect seasonal posts compiling the titles we’re most excited about and, as we near announcement time in January, our predictions. 

New Children’s and Young Adult Subcategories

We’ll be changing our post structure to reflect a big change coming to the award itself! The ALA Rainbow Round Table (RRT) approved a proposal calling for two award subcategories to go into effect this year, so for the first time, there will be separate Children’s and Young Adult slates. We’re anticipating the Real Committee will select a Children’s winner and up to 4 Children’s honors AND a YA winner and up to 4 YA honors. In keeping with this exciting update, our posts will be broken down into separate Children’s and YA considerations. 

(As a reminder, this blog is totally unofficial and does not reflect RRT or the Real Committee’s opinions.)


As we consider titles, we’ll be drawing on both the official award criteria and some unofficial criteria of our own. 

The official award criteria: 

  • The awards are presented to “English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the LGBTQIA+ experience.”
  • Eligible books must be published January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022. 
  • Though the award is typically given to books published in the US, international books may be considered.
  • Re-printings of previously published books are not considered.
  • Substantially changed new editions and/or English translations are considered.

Additionally, we’re using these unofficial criteria to inform our selections:

  • 50% or more of the protagonists must be LGBTQIA+ to be considered.
  • We’re going to elevate books that add new voices and experiences to the existing canon of award winners.

Why It Matters 

Our commitment to highlighting the work of this award feels continually pressing, given the focus of current national anti-LGBTQIA+ backlash on kids, books, and libraries. Recent years have seen a huge increase in the publication of queer books, still mostly centered in YA but expanding to younger audiences. The number of books eligible for award consideration continues to grow each year. At the same time, queer books, and queer kids, are facing a fresh wave of bigotry. Book bannings and suppression are disproportionately targeting books with LGBTQIA+ characters, and state legislation threatens to restrict kids’ access to LGBQTIA+ education and strip trans kids’ rights. An even greater number of book bannings targeting BIPOC characters and horrifying legislative attacks on “critical race theory” make BIPOC queer experiences especially susceptible to erasure. Ensuring that all queer stories get into the hands of all kids is still a fight. It’s with this in mind that we continue this one small effort to champion queer books and queer kids.

We hope you’ll join us.

2022 Youth Media Awards Debrief

Congratulations to the 2022 Stonewall Book Award winners and honors! We’d like to give a special shout out again this year to Dani Crickman, blog co-founder, who chaired this year’s Real Committee. Yay Dani!

Winners: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo and Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Honors: Grandad’s Camper by Harry Woodgate, The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer, and Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

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Top 10 Stonewall Contenders

The ALA Youth Media Awards are coming right up on Monday, January 24, which means we’re just days away from finding out the real Stonewall Book Award winners. We’d say we’ve been dutifully reading all the contenders but that would be a lie. We apologize for the radio silence to anyone who has been checking this site. Reader’s block continues to be a thing for both of us, but we do have some books that we’re especially rooting for this year.

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2021 Books By Previous Winners (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of two posts highlighting 2021 titles by previous recipients.

Eleven of the eighteen total Stonewall Book Award winners to date have been books for teens (mostly fiction). The simple fact: books with queer content published for teens far outnumber those for younger audiences. Still, years like 2015, 2019, and 2021 all gave writers for younger readers the gold seal, leaving writers for teens with silver. Will that happen again this year? Here are five new YA releases from previous recipients to get on your radar if they aren’t already.

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (October 2021)

Publisher marketing: The highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an achingly romantic, tender tale sure to captivate fans of Adam Silvera and Mary H.K. Choi.

Kazia’s thoughts: Committee members are supposed to solely evaluate the text at hand, and with four starred reviews, this is one to pay attention to. However, readers will have to decide for themselves if Sáenz’s transphobic behavior is something they’re willing to overlook. 

Alec’s thoughts: I reviewed this one for SLJ, which gave one of those stars. It’s twice the size of its predecessor and, in some ways, felt like a different book. Sáenz revisits the transphobic hate crime mentioned in the first book and, I think, tries to make amends. But is it successful?

Fools in Love edited by Ashley Herring Blake & Rebecca Podos (December 2021)

Publisher marketing: Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre. 

Alec’s thoughts: Such a great roster of authors contributed to this! I don’t think an anthology has ever been honored before and I’d love to see that someday. 

Kazia’s thoughts: I’ve heard that twelve of the fifteen stories feature queer protagonists, and I’m over the moon that we’re getting an anthology of thoroughly queered romance tropes!   

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore (March 2021)

Publisher marketing: When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown.

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t had a chance to dive into this one yet, but to be honest I feel like McLemore never misses! 

Alec’s thoughts: I’m with Kazia. McLemore’s writing is just *chef’s kiss*. This was longlisted for the National Book Award, too, so I’m even more eager to read it. 

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (July 2021)

Publisher marketing: From the author of You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson delivers a stunning novel about being brave enough to be true to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably dark. 

Kazia’s thoughts: After the triumphant success of You Should See Me in a Crown, I am ready for anything and everything Johnson gifts us. 

Alec’s thoughts: I still haven’t read You Should See Me in a Crown and I really need to. So far, it doesn’t seem like reviewers have loved Rise to the Sun to the same degree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a contender. I’m intrigued by the music festival plot. 

When You Get the Chance by Robin Stevenson & Tom Ryan (May 2021)

Publisher marketing: Follow cousins on a road trip to Pride as they dive into family secrets and friendships in this contemporary novel—perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli.

Alec’s thoughts: I’ve grown to really enjoy Stevenson’s books and I’m excited about this collaboration. Does this book mean Stevenson has effectively written about Pride for every age group now? I kind of love that—and the rainbow road on the cover, of course!

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t gotten my hands on this one yet, but who doesn’t love a road trip novel that will tug at your heart? 

Are we missing a book? Have you read any of these yet? Let us know in the comments.

2021 Books By Previous Winners (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of two posts highlighting 2021 titles by previous recipients. 

First given in 2010, the Stonewall Book Award—Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award has celebrated over a decade’s worth of queer literature for children and teens. The list of authors and illustrators who have been recognized by past committees is long, and their upcoming releases include more than just the books listed here. But, since we are a blog focusing on an award for queer content, we’re only listing titles that fit the bill. First up: picture books, middle grade, and nonfiction!

Pride Puppy by Robin Stevenson, illus. Julie McLaughlin (May 2021)

Publisher marketing: A rhyming alphabet book featuring a family who have lost their dog at a Pride parade.

Kazia’s thoughts: I can’t lie, I was initially skeptical of this one, but I’ve been fully won over! Bright, cheerful, illustrations that show a diverse array of queers and have their own subplot? An alphabet book with a rhyme that scans? Yes please!  

Alec’s thoughts: I agree! I love that the central conflict is that the puppy gets lost. The book doesn’t try to instruct about Pride but instead shows Pride through observable details. I also love Grandma’s presence in the story because it cues that the queer parents have support from their families. I don’t think we see enough of that.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) by David Levithan (February 2021)

Publisher marketing: New York Times bestselling author David Levithan takes young readers on a twisting journey through truth, reality, and fantasy and belief.

Alec’s thoughts: This one came out so early in the year that I almost forgot about it. It’s Levithan’s first foray into middle grade, and it’s perfect for tweens who love When You Reach Me. *spoiler alert* As for queer rep, the revelation reminded me a little bit of that scene ParaNorman where the brother reveals his sexuality at the end. It’s not a book about queerness, but it’s definitely a queer book.

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (April 2021)

Publisher marketing: A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity.

Alec’s thoughts: I am currently reading this one and WOW. This book checks all the boxes for me. Multiple starred reviews and appearance on the NBA shortlist signal that this one is a top contender. I imagine I’ll have a lot to say when I’m finished.

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t gotten to dive in yet, but Lukoff’s work is always a must-read!

Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea by Ashley Herring Blake (May 2021)

Publisher marketing: For fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Ali Benjamin comes a poignant yet hopeful novel about a girl navigating grief, trauma, and friendship, from Ashley Herring Blake, the award-winning author of Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World.

Alec’s thoughts: I haven’t read this one yet but I was a big fan of Ivy Aberdeen. This one sounds like a much heavier book, but with all the grief we’re experiencing these days it could be all the more resonant.

Evelyn Hooker and the Fairy Project by Gayle E. Pitman, illus. Sarah Green (October 2021)

Publisher marketing: This biography tells the story of Evelyn Hooker, the woman behind the research, advocacy, and allyship that led to the removal of the “homosexuality” diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Kazia’s thoughts: As a nerd for youth nonfiction and a queer who has Some Feelings about the DSM, I can’t wait to dig into this one.

Alec’s thoughts: I’ll be honest that I didn’t know about Evelyn Hooker until this book. But I’m becoming quite a queer history nerd and I’m so glad this book exists. There’s so much of history that still needs to be told.

Are we missing a book? Have you read any of these yet? Let us know in the comments.