Pride Month Picks: Celebrate with LGBTQ+ Middle Grade Reads

A rainbow themed graphic displays our favorite four middle-grade books in honor of Pride Month and whose titles are as follows (from left to right): Ellie Engle Saves Herself, The Tea Dragon Society, Nikhil Out Loud, and Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston.

Ellie Engle Saves Herself by Leah Johnson (she/her)

Ellie Engle, a girl, is sitting cross legged in a backyard and is surrounded by glowing insects and butterflies. Above her head spells out the title of the book with the words “the world” crossed off and replaced by a handwritten font that spells out “herself” instead.

Award-winning YA author Leah Johnson’s middle grade debut Ellie Engle Saves Herself follows Ellie, who doesn’t stand out at school as much as her cool best friend Abby, who she might be in love with. Ellie is content to live life behind the scenes — until an earthquake hits, and Ellie wakes up with magical powers that let her bring anything she touches back to life! As Ellie’s new powers thrust her into the spotlight, she’ll have to juggle her newfound fame with surviving middle school. (Ages 8-12)

The Tea Dragon Society by K. O’Neill (they/them)
In a field with blooming flowers, two teenage looking girls with horns sticking out from the tops of their heads are laying on a red picnic blanket drinking tea alongside a small orange goat.

This magical, beautifully-illustrated graphic novel is the first book in the acclaimed Tea Dragon series by O’Neill. Two-time winner of the Eisner Award, this fairytale follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice who learns about the ancient art of tea dragon care-taking and makes a diverse group of fantastical friends along the way—including the shy Minette, whose friendship with Greta slowly blooms into something more. (Ages 7-11)

Nikhil Out Loud by Maulik Pancholy (he/him)
Nikhil, a boy, has his hand raised above his head and is touching the white words typed out to read the title of the book: Nikhil Out Loud.

A Kirkus Best of Book 2022 and 2023 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist, Nikhil Out Loud is the latest middle grade novel by actor and activist Maulik Pancholy. Join thirteen-year-old Nikhil, a voice actor in a beloved animated series. When he moves to a new town, Nikhil feels out of place at his school despite his fame. When he gets cast as the lead in the school play, a group of parents protests the casting of an openly gay actor. To top it all off, Nikhil wakes up one day and hears his voice begin to crack—meaning his voice-acting role might be at risk. This heartfelt coming of age story follows Nikhil as he discovers that real life is a lot more complicated than on TV. (Ages 9-13)

Sir Callie and The Champions of Helston by Esme Symes Smith (they/them) 
The 12-year-old protagonist Callie, a boy, is in the middle of the graphic holding up a sword in front of the kingdom where there is a castle and dragons behind him. To the left of him is a blue haired boy who is holding a sword low and to the right of Callie is a red-haired girl who is using her hands to create magic.

Esme Symes Smith introduces us to Callie, a twelve-year-old knight who dreams of proving themselves worthy of defending their kingdom. Callie is nonbinary, but everyone around them refuses to see them as anything other than a girl—until they meet Elowen, Edwyn, and Willow, who are just as ambitious and misunderstood as Callie. As Callie and their new friends find themselves involved in an adventure of magical proportions, they’ll battle bigotry outside AND inside the kingdom.