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?
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.
#1. Alice Austen Lived Here by Alex Gino (June 7, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: From the award-winning author of [Melissa], a phenomenal novel about queerness past, present, and future.
Our Thoughts: We’re so excited to see a middle grade novel featuring two enbies fighting the kyriarchy and reclaiming queer history!
#2. Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff (April 12, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: In this funny and hugely heartfelt novel from the Newbery Honor-winning author of Too Bright to See, a sixth-grader’s life is turned upside down when she learns her dad is trans.
Our Thoughts: Has there ever been a children’s book that dips into an intergenerational conversation about trans identities like this? This one feels groundbreaking—and it’s funny to boot!
#3. I Love You Because I Love You by Muợn Thị Văn, illus. Jessica Love (January 18, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: To be read aloud by one or even two people, this affirming call-and-response prose by Muợn Thị Văn and Jessica Love demonstrates that love is a dialogue. Love is complex. Love is utterly simple.
Our Thoughts: We debated on including this because it’s a bit too catchall (think Everywhere Babies) to be eligible by our criteria, but there can never be too many picture books featuring queer families in the mix.
#4. If You’re a Kid Like Gavin by Gavin Grimm & Kyle Lukoff, illus. J Yang (July 12, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: This picture book memoir from transgender activist Gavin Grimm, with Stonewall Award–winning author Kyle Lukoff and illustrator J Yang, is an inspiring portrayal of Gavin’s fight for civil rights after his school discriminated against him for being trans.
Our Thoughts: Amazing art! An amazing subject who gets to tell his own story! An entirely transmasc team! This is one incredible collaboration.
#5. Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, illus. Kaylani Juanita (March 29, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: A little girl stays home with Mama when Mommy goes off on a work trip in this tender, inviting story that will resonate with every child who has missed a parent.
Our Thoughts: Oops! We love this one so much, we included it in our 10 for Spring: Kids roundup, too!
#6. Mermaid Days: The Sunken Ship (May 3, 2022) and #7. Mermaid Days: The Sea Monster (September 6, 2022) by Kyle Lukoff, illus. by Kat Uno
Publisher Marketing: Swim along with mermaid Vera and octo-kid Beaker! […] Balancing easy-to-read text, endless humor and charm, light nonfiction, and a lovable cast of underwater creatures, these laugh-out-loud stories are the perfect fit for new readers!
Our Thoughts: We love being able to include a graphic early reader series on this list! One of the mer-kids uses they/them pronouns.
#8. Moonflower by Kacen Callender (July 19, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: Kacen Callender, National Book Award winner of King and the Dragonflies, delivers a stunning novel that invites readers into a child’s struggles with mental health, and their journey to wholeness.
Our Thoughts: We’re grateful to see more middle grade about the intersection of queerness and mental health. As Moon journeys through the spirit realm, they find the guidance they need to learn to live with depression in this deeply loving, hopeful story.
#9. Nikhil Out Loud by Maulik Pancholy (October 11, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: From the acclaimed actor and Stonewall Honor–winning author of The Best at It, Maulik Pancholy, comes a new middle grade novel about a gay Indian American boy, the voice actor of a hit animated series, who learns the power of using his own voice after his family moves to a small town in Ohio.
Our Thoughts: What starts as a fish out of water situation turns into an empowering, community-building activist tale. Theatre and queerness are often paired but it’s neat to see voice acting thrown into the mix, too.
#10. Timid by Harry Woodgate (June 28, 2022)
Publisher Marketing: Timmy is struggling with their inner cowardly lion in this picture book about friendship and overcoming anxiety.
Our Thoughts: We’re so happy to see more picture books with kids whose pronouns are they/them—all the better with Woodgate’s signature vibrant illustrations and gentle storytelling.