Summer reading for modern families

Have you been to Nashville Public Library yet? It’s definitely worth checking us out (pun intended!) In fact, summer is a great time for LGBT families to visit.

Through August, families can compete in NPL’s Summer Challenge. As they discover books and materials – including LGBT-friendly items – they’ll also earn points and win prizes.

What is the Summer Challenge?

This free game is for all ages. Anyone can sign up online or at any of our 21 locations. All you need is your Nashville Public Library card.

Participants earn points for completing activities such as reading with a friend, visiting a park or checking out a book. Then, they redeem points for prizes.

Summer Challenge is a lot of fun, but there’s also a serious educational aspect to the program. The library focuses on summer reading so intensely because we know kids who read year-round are more successful.

If they stop reading during summer break, kids can lose up to three months’ worth of learning skills. They begin their next school year behind their peers. What’s worse, this loss compounds every summer.

Summer Challenge is a local, free and fun way to incorporate reading and learning into your family’s together time.

Add LGBT Books to YOUR Summer Challenge

Our books and materials represent all the faces of Nashville, including LGBT people. What’s more, diversity in literature is especially important for children. They can benefit from LGBT stories and characters early in their lives.

These stories introduce LGBT kids to relatable characters, at their own reading levels, who reassure kids they’re not alone. Meanwhile, LGBT stories help straight kids build empathy and acclimate to a world full of differences.

If you want to incorporate LGBT reading into your Summer Challenge experience, we can help. To get started, here are some suggestions from our shelves:


And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

(for preschool – grade 2)

This illustrated book tells the true story of two male penguins at Central Park Zoo. They couple up and build a nest (that’s the penguin equivalent of “making it official,” by the way).

When another penguin couple at the same zoo is unable to care for its egg, the male couple hatches it and raises the baby, Tango.

This book reinforces that love is love, no matter what. Because it’s based on a true story from the animal kingdom, it also shows same-sex couples can be found everywhere. That’s reassuring for kids in the LGBT community to know.


Marco Impossible

by Hanny Moskowitz

(for grades 5-8)

Thirteen-year-old Marco wants to break into a high-school prom to publicly declare his love for long-time crush Benji.

This is an updated take on the classic buddy adventure novel. Mixed into this funny story about Marco and his best friend Stephen are very un-funny hate-crime threats, strained friendships and ruthless bullies.

Marco is out and proud; he makes no apologies. So, while they execute “Project Prom,” the boys also search for the person sending threatening notes.

This book will resonate with anyone who has faced adversity for being true to him or herself. It could also be a great read for parents who want to understand what it’s like to grow up gay (spoiler alert: it’s not easy).


Better Nate than Ever

by Tim Federle

(for grades 5-8)

Nate Foster wants to leave Pittsburgh and make it big on Broadway. When he and his best friend Libby learn their favorite movie, ET, will soon go from screen to stage, they’ll do whatever it takes to get Nate to the New York City audition.

Good luck finding a more likable character than Nate. He’s goofy, endearing and so very funny. You’ll cheer for Nate the entire time – even if you already know ET: The Musical is a horrible idea.

This is a great book, whose protagonist describes his sexuality as “undecided,” making it clear there’s more to us than our sexualities.


See You Soon at NPL

These books are just a few of the LGBT-friendly items you’ll find at Nashville Public Library. We can offer many other suggestions, tailored to what you seek.

And remember, books are only half the story at NPL. With your free library card, you can download e-books, listen to audio books, stream music, rent movies and more.

If you don’t have a library card yet, don’t worry. It only takes a few minutes to sign up, and you’ll earn Summer Challenge points for doing it! Just come to any of our locations or get one online.



Lindsay Jensen is a children’s librarian at Nashville Public Library’s Main location in downtown Nashville. She devotes much of her time to reading, so she can always have book recommendations ready.

About Nashville Public Library

Nashville Public Library maintains a collection of 2 million items, including books, periodicals, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, and downloadable books, movies and music. The Library also offers more than 800 public-use computers, free art exhibits, educational programs, events for all ages, 24/7 reference assistance, online databases, interlibrary loan and special collections. Equal access is provided by the Talking Library audio reading service for the print disabled and Library Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. For more information, call (615) 862-5800 or visit





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