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GLAAD CELEBRATES NATIONAL READING MONTH WITH ON-CAMERA INTERVIEW SERIES FEATURING LGBTQ AUTHORS AND CONTEST TO GIVE AWAY BOXES OF LGBTQ CHILDREN’S BOOKS
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is celebrating National Reading Month with a series of events featuring authors of LGBTQ children’s and young adult books, and with a giveaway in which winners will receive a selection of children’s titles from Little Bee Books.
The campaign raises awareness about the surge of censorship across the country targeting LGBTQ-inclusive books and books about race and racism, and bills censoring conversation in classrooms about sexual orientation and gender identity, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say LGBTQ” bill. For more, see GLAAD’s media guide to reporting on book bans and school censorship here. The ongoing partnership between GLAAD and Little Bee Books represents a commitment to increasing positive representation of LGBTQ people and families in children’s books.
Each Thursday in March, GLAAD will post an interview with a different author, hosted by Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s Vice President of Communications & Talent. The series will run across GLAAD’s social media channels to a combined 1 million followers, and each author will discuss their work as well as the current sweeping censorship targeting LGBTQ books and educational materials across the country.In addition to the author series, five people will be chosen to receive a book box containing four LGBTQ children’s titles, in partnership with Little Bee books. An entry form asks readers to share their thoughts on why LGBTQ representation in books matters, and about their favorite children’s and young adult books growing up. Each of the five book boxes contains the following Little Bee Books titles: All Moms (by GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis), Grandad’s Camper, Jack Not Jackie, and Prince & Knight.
QUOTE FROM MARY EMILY O’HARA, RAPID RESPONSE MANAGER AT GLAAD:
“All kids deserve to see themselves represented in the media, including the books they read in and out of school. Censorship targeting LGBTQ content in books and schools is unfair, politically motivated, and violates the free expression rights of students as well as their parents and teachers. Across the country, inspiring students, authors, and LGBTQ youth are fighting book bans and laws like Florida’s ‘Don’t Say LGBTQ’ bill, and their voices need to be heard—and listened to by state lawmakers and school board members.”
QUOTE FROM SHIMUL TOLIA, CEO AT LITTLE BEE BOOKS:
“Little Bee Books is proud to partner with GLAAD to support the voices of LGBTQ authors and illustrators during National Reading Month and all year round. Children’s books are a cornerstone of childhood education and censorship of any kind is a discredit to the many families that benefit from impactful, important, and diverse stories. We welcome the opportunity to work with GLAAD in shining a spotlight on these ever important stories and on the worthy cause of denouncing book bans.”
The author series kicks off on Thursday, March 10th with GLAAD’s own President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, who wrote her new children’s book All Moms (launched March 1st) with her wife, founding member, guitarist, and songwriter for the all-female popular rock band Antigone Rising, Kristen Ellis-Henderson.
Other authors featured in the series so far include New York Times bestselling author George M. Johnson (All Boys Aren’t Blue) and American Library Association Stonewall Book Award nominee Harry Woodgate (Grandad’s Camper), with more to be announced soon. Both Johnson’s and Woodgate’s bestselling and award-winning books have been the targets of recent anti-LGBTQ censorship. As of February, Johnson’s book has been banned in school districts and libraries in 15 states and Woodgate’s book was targeted in January by a Mississippi elected official who threatened to defund a local library unless Grandad’s Camper and other books were removed from circulation. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue is being developed into a series for Sony Pictures TV, with rights optioned by Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions.
In December 2021, GLAAD joined a coalition of over 600 national advocacy groups, publishers, authors, and others concerned with the growing censorship of books about LGBTQ people and people of color. That week, GLAAD launched the #BooksNotBans campaign on social media, with participation including Scholastic, the American Library Association, BookPeople, Jazz Jennings, Mayim Bialik, and more. As part of the campaign, GLAAD also created a media guide for reporting on book bannings and school censorship, including background on the bans, recommendations for coverage, important timelines, and more.
In 2021, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked over 476 book censorship challenges between September and the end of the year. Many of those targeted books by or about LGBTQ people. Three of the most widely targeted books featured LGBTQ protagonists: Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, and Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy. Debates over the books—especially Gender Queer—greatly influenced political races in late 2021, including the Virginia gubernatorial vote. Censorship of LGBTQ books in school districts has become so rapid and widespread, the National Coalition Against Censorship launched a crisis hotline in February 2022.
About the authors featured in GLAAD’s National Reading Month interview series:
Sarah Kate Ellis (she/her) is the President and CEO of GLAAD, the nation’s leading LGBTQ media advocacy group. She has been a publishing executive for the brands Real Simple, Vogue and InStyle. Dedicated to making LGBTQ people of all ages feel seen and understood, Sarah Kate has played a key role in driving the growing trend of LGBTQ inclusion in kids and family media over the past several years.
Kristen Ellis-Henderson (she/her) is the founding member of the all-female rock band Antigone Rising and co-author of Times Two: Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made, written with her wife Sarah Kate Ellis. The two moms learned they were each pregnant on the same day with due dates only three days apart! As a proud lesbian mother of twin 10-year-olds, Kristen is passionate about expanding images of LGBTQ families in media.
George M. Johnson (they/them) is a writer and activist based in New York. They have written on race, gender, sex, and culture for Essence, the Advocate, BuzzFeed News, Teen Vogue, and more than forty other national publications. George has appeared on BuzzFeed’s AM2DM as well as on MSNBC. All Boys Aren’t Blue is their debut, and was an Amazon Best Book of the Year, an Indie Bestseller, a People Magazine Best Book of the Year, and optioned for television by Gabrielle Union. The New York Times called it “an exuberant, unapologetic memoir infused with a deep but cleareyed love for its subjects.” https://iamgmjohnson.com
Harry Woodgate (they/them) is an award-winning illustrator and author based in St Albans, UK. Their books include the Stonewall Honor Book, Grandad’s Camper, as well as How to Build a City, Little Glow and The Very Merry Murder Club. They love creating stories with a focus on diversity, inclusivity, compassion and adventure. Harry has worked with publishers including Penguin Random House, Little Tiger Group, Andersen Press, Little Bee Books and HarperCollins, and also on freelance projects with clients such as the Sunday Times, The Washington Post and Google. When they are not illustrating or writing stories, Harry loves writing music, exploring independent coffee shops and bookstores, and cycling. www.harrywoodgate.com
Maia Kobabe (ey/em) is a nonbinary, queer author and illustrator from the Bay Area whose first full length book, the graphic memoir Gender Queer, was published in 2019. The book became the center of a political firestorm two years later when it was banned by a school board in Fairfax, Virginia last September amid a contentious gubernatorial race. Since then, Kobabe’s book has been banned in school districts in at least a dozen states and has been repeatedly targeted by anti-LGBTQ activists as evidence of why LGBTQ books and curriculum should be banned in schools and libraries. Gender Queer won the American Library Association’s Alex Award (for books “written for adults that have special appeal to young adults”) and a Stonewall Book Award, both in 2020. redgoldsparkspress.com
GLAAD continues to engage LGBTQ authors for the National Reading Month series and beyond.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
For GLAAD Media Institute Alum Kevin Anderson, interviews with journalists have become increasingly prevalent in…