Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Rainbow List

The Rainbow List 2009

Rainbow List 2009 « The Rainbow List via kwout

I just blogged about The Rainbow List in my blog for my school. I notified the kids that we have many of the books from both this year's and last year's list. I will put some of the books on display too. The problem that I have with these books is that it is difficult to get kids to read them! Even though our school seems to be a supportive community and has an active Gay-Straight Alliance, I think it is still hard to be labeled. Usually when I booktalk a book with gay themes to 8th-9th graders, it does not get checked out. Even when I try to downplay that part of the story it still sits in the library after class. Sometimes the books with gay characters get checked out for required reading for a Human Development class (at least I got that into the curriculum!), or I might notice an older student checking one out, but hardly ever an 8th-9th grader. I blame it on their age, that they are probably afraid of being labeled as GLBTQ, and so they stay away from books with these themes (What they don't realize is you don't have to be a boy to read a book about a boy main character, you don't have to be a clone to enjoy a book about a clone as a main character. Why does reading a book about a gay or lesbian character possibly signify that the reader is gay or lesbian?). Of course, this doesn't stop me from buying and promoting these often excellent books, because I think even if one student reads and connects with a book like this it can be a life-changing event for him or her, and therefore the books are worth buying.

Do your students check out the books they know have gay themes? Which ones are the most popular? I would say, without doing any major research on it, that Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan is probably the most checked out book with gay themes in my library. What about yours? How can we as librarians combat this subtle homophobia in young teens? Or, is it not a problem in your library?

Along with The Rainbow List, please look at Lee Wind's blog celebrating YA GLBTQ books, I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell do I Read? (Twilight fans must see his video Love Sucks: Good News for Gays and Vampires).


  1. thanks for the shout-out, Elizabeth! I often think of how Alex Sanchez talks about his books being mis-shelved in libraries, because kids are taking them and reading them IN the library, afraid to check them out. Then they put them somewhere random so they can come back and finish reading another time...
    Just because a book isn't checked out doesn't mean is isn't being read - and changing lives, just like you said!
    Thanks for all you do!

  2. A lot of our kids read books in the library also because they are afraid they won't do their homework if they bring the books home! They rely on having the book in the library for their free tracks. That topic is on my list to blog about - great to have another reason why they don't check the books out. Thanks!

  3. I agree that the books are often read in the library but not checked. Homework, privacy, whatever reason, they are being read even if they aren't checked out. We do book displays that have had very positive feedback -- not directly, but through the Project 10 advisor.
    Maureen Frank