This Book is Gay by J. Dawson


  • Kyle Marshall



Dawson, James. This Book is Gay. London: Hot Key Books, 2014. Print.

As North American jurisdictions play host to battles over proposed sex education curricula, barriers to providing basic sexual health information to youth are becoming painfully evident. In the place of strong classroom instruction, many governments expect parents to engage in these conversations, but even progressive parents may feel inadequately prepared for discussing sex education with their LGBT children. Similar issues exist surrounding cultural identification and attainment; where most youth simply observe or take part in family and societal practices, queer youth must undertake greater lengths to self-educate and identify.

Enter James Dawson’s publication, This Book is Gay, which serves as part sex education, part cultural information manual for all things LGBT. With strong credentials as a former teacher and YA author, Dawson also deployed an international survey and conducted interviews to add statistics and quotations that expand and diversify the experiences captured within the book. The book covers a vast array of topics complete with catchy chapter titles, including terminology (“The Name Game”), homophobia and transphobia (“The Fear” and “Haterz Gonna Hate”) and, a topic of interest to most LGBT teens, same sex education (“The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex”). Within these chapters is a balance of reader empowerment, stereotype dismantling, community building and jokes - lots of jokes - to keep the reader entertained and informed throughout. Adding to the levity and frankness of Dawson’s tone are illustrator Spike Gerrell’s ebullient comics (think lightning bolts retreating from a gonorrhea patient’s groin).

An uplifting read that will inform and entertain all types of readers, I highly recommend This Book is Gay. The book does use certain colloquialisms native to Dawson’s United Kingdom, but these should serve as only very minor distractions - or even points of curiosity - to the non-British reader. This Book is Gay would work as a very thoughtful gift to a newly out or questioning teen, but there needs to be a place for it in every junior high and high school library. As a stand-in for a funny, frank and extremely knowledgeable older sibling, this book should do the trick.

Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Kyle Marshall

Kyle Marshall is the School-Aged Services Intern Librarian for Edmonton Public Library. He graduated with his MLIS from the University of Alberta in June 2015, and is passionate about diversity in children's and youth literature.

Author Biography

Kyle Marshall

School-Aged Services Intern Librarian



How to Cite

Marshall, K. (2015). This Book is Gay by J. Dawson. The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, 5(2).



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