Lesbian and Gay Voices in Literature for Children and Young Adults—A Search Guide

This guide suggests four ways to find children’s and young adult literature with lesbian and gay themes.

a) Search the UIUC library online catalog

Choose the “Advanced Search” option. In the search screen, type in the following words on the left column and make choices from the drop-down menus on the right:

Gay lesbian homosexuality — any of these words — Subject Words


Juvenile — all of these words — Subject Words

Other related subject words that you can use are:
– Bisexuals/Bisexuality
– Coming out (Sexual orientation)
– Homophobia
– Sexual Orientation
– Transsexuals /Transsexualism

If you are looking for nonfiction, type “Juvenile literature” in the second row of boxes.
For fiction, use “juvenile fiction.” If you decide to type in “fiction” only, you can limit the location of your search result to “Education and Social Science” to filter out literature for adult readers.

b) Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database
NOTE: Proxy server authentication required for off-campus access by UIUC affiliates.

This database contains book catalog of children’s and YA literature, as well as book reviews in fulltext from 35 sources.
1. Type any of the subject words listed above in the search box, and, under”Search specific fields,” choose “Subject Hdgs.”
2. Before pressing the Search button, you can also limit your search by genre, age level, grade level, publication date, etc.
3. After finding an interesting title in this database, you need to check the UIUC library online catalog to see if we have an actual copy of the book.

c) Bibliographies / book lists

Lesbian and Gay Voices: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Literature for Children and Young Adults. Day, F. A. 2000.
Contains more than 275 titles of books that feature major and minor lesbian and gay characters and which are appropriate for young readers. Also includes biographical information for selected authors.
[Education Juvenile Reference: S.016.8108 D331l]

Out of the Closet and into the Classroom: Homosexuality in Books for Young People.
Melbourne, Vic., Australia: ALIA. 1st ed. 1992 & 2nd ed. 1996.
Lists more than 125 titles published in Australia, Great Britain, and the U.S.
[1st ed. available in I-Share libraries; 2nd ed. available through Worldcat]

Annual Lambda Literary Awards
Launched in 1989 by the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Lambda Literary Awards is the nation’s most celebrated and comprehensive collection of awards for LGBT writing, including fiction, poetry, mystery, nonfiction, and works for adults as well as for children and young adults. All winning titles are listed first by year then by category.

Homosexuality in Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction: An Annotated Bibliography Webunder, D. & Woodard, S.
ALAN Review. Vol. 23, No. 2, p40-43. Win 1996.
Contains a bibliography of 14 adolescent novels and journal articles (published between 1976 and 1994) relating to homosexuality and homophobia, with evaluative annotations outlining themes and plots and offering suggestions for instruction
[Main Stacks: 028.162505 AL]

Gay and Lesbian Teenagers: A Reading Ladder for Students, Media Specialists and Parents. Williams, R. F.
ALAN Review. Vol. 20, No. 3, p12-17. Spr 1993.
Discusses issues related to the use of gay and lesbian literature in secondary English classes. Provides a 60-item annotated bibliography of texts that might be used in such classes, including both fiction and nonfiction titles.
[Main Stacks: 028.162505 AL]

Young Adult Novels with Gay/Lesbian Characters and Themes 1969-92: A Historical Reading of Content, Gender, and Narrative Distance. Jenkins, C. A.
Journal of Youth Services in Libraries. Vol. 7, No. 1, p43-55. Fall 1993.
A chronological examination of the portrayals of gay/lesbian characters and their contexts in 60 young adult novels published from 1969 to 1992 focuses on information about gay/lesbian people. A chronological bibliography is appended.
[Education Storage S. 027.62505 JO; LIS Library: 027.62505 JO]

d) Book reviews


GLBT Life contains citations and fulltext from GLBT journals, magazines and regional newspapers, as well as dozens of monographs. It does not focus on juvenile literature, but some of the journals indexed in it review children’s and YA books occasionally, including picture books.
If you do not know a specific book title, and want to find out what reviews of children’s literature the database contains, this is the strategy you can use:
1. In the “Advanced Search” page, type in “book review” and “children’s literature” in separate search boxes on the left column;
2. Leave the drop-down menus on the right column as “Default Fields;”
3. Press “Search.”