Books for Trans Joy in the Middle School Classroom

Books for Trans Joy in the Middle School Classroom
Photo by Jack B / Unsplash

March 31 is Transgender Day of Visibility. Transgender students deserve to see themselves represented in the books they read and they deserve affirming stories that bring joy. Here are some joyful books that I recommend for the middle school classroom and beyond.

  • The Cardboard Kingdom, by Chad Sell - This graphic novel series follows the children of the cardboard kingdom, a neighbourhood where kids go on adventures and take on new personas using cardboard costumes and their own creativity. One character who stands out is Jack, a kid who dresses up as the Sorceress,who represents everything Jack wants to be: magical, powerful and amazing. The scene where Jack's mom talks to Jack about this is heartwarming and supportive.
  • The Pants Project, by Cat Clarke - When starting at a new school, Liv, a transgender boy, is upset to learn the school dress code requires him to wear a skirt. With the help of friends, Liv challenges the dress code and is able to fully express his true self. While Liv deals with some bullying in the book and changing friendships, he also has a network of supportive friends and family who help him make big changes.
  • The Civil War of Amos Abernathy, by Michael Leali - In this book, Amos, a gay teen who volunteers at a living history park, tries to convince the park to recognize Albert D. J. Cashier, a civil war soldier who may have identified as transgender. While the word transgender didn't exist at that point in history, it is important for students to see that this type of identity has a longstanding history. Watching main character Amos work to celebrate this real historical figure makes for a compelling read.
  • The Sunbearer Trials, written by Aiden Thomas - This book is an excellent choice for students who want a young adult read. In this fantasy, Teo, the transgender son of a goddess, must participate in the Sunbearer Trials, a deadly competition where demigods compete to protect the people of Reino del Sol. In the world of this book, Teo's transgender identity is accepted and celebrated, making this an affirming and exciting book.