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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

'I'm Bi, actually': Bi Representation in Children's Literature

By Holly Allwright, Rosie Pinder, Emma Rogers

Season two of Heartstopper hit our screens this Augustthe hit Netflix show based on Alice Oseman’s chart topping graphic novel series. The heart-warming series focuses on a group of British school children and includes storylines about sexuality, gender and types of relationships. This series in particular foregrounds Nick’s – one of the main characters journey of coming out to his friends and family as bisexual. We felt inspired to take a look at Bi representation across children’s literature as a whole, so that you can fill the Heartstopper shaped hole in your life once the credits roll on the final episode.

Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler

A book of two sides, Natalya Fox has a mere 24 hours to make a choice between two possible summers. She can stay in New York City with her Dad and the girl she knows she wants, or she can go and stay with her estranged Mum in Los Angeles and meet the boy she never would have expected. As the book plays out in two timelines, Adler expertly explores the bisexual existence as well as issues of family, loyalty, friendship and love. It is the perfect queer YA (young adult) romance novel for the summer for any growing reader.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Love it or hate it, but the fake dating trope seems to be here to stay. In Jaigirdar’s novel, however, the trope takes on a delightfully queer twist. When Hani comes out to her friends as bisexual, they instantly invalidate her identity claiming she cannot be Bi if she has never dated a girl. In a moment of panic, Hani reveals a supposed new ‘relationship’, with a girl that is the antithesis of her popular group. Ishu may not be popular, but her ambitions include winning head girl, a title she may struggle to achieve without the boost of Hani’s popularity and thus, a fake relationship ensues. The book contains stunning representation of the queer existence as well as the struggles the two Bengali girls face regarding their race as they attempt to grasp their feelings for each other.

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Perfect on Paper has been doing the rounds on bookstagram and booktok since its release in 2021. Darcy Phillips is a bisexual girl who gives anonymous advice to her classmates. When Alexander Brougham catches her in the act, he blackmails her into helping him win his ex-girlfriend back. What could go wrong?

Gonzales’s characters are well developed individuals with flaws that allow them to grow and learn as the novel progresses. This book also features a lot of discussions around biphobia and the way bisexual girls in relationships with boys are perceived.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

From the author of Dumplin’, comes a novel about friendship, family and how love can be more fluid than you first think. Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she is devoted to her family and she is destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home.

The return of her childhood friend, Freddie, is a welcome distraction from the responsibilities that weigh heavy on her shoulders. Soon, he has talked her into joining him in the pool. As her love for swimming grows, so do her feelings towards Freddie and Ramona begins to consider if perhaps she does like guys too, or is this new attraction just a fluke?

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Looking for a fantasy novel with a bisexual protagonist? Then look no further. Jessica Tran is a Chinese-Vietnamese, bisexual school student in a world where superpowers are common. Despite a family history of heroism, Jessica is resigned to a life without powers and instead finds an internship to improve her college applications. There’s just one problem: the internship is for the town’s supervillain. What starts as a fun way to spite her parents takes a dangerous turn when Jessica discovers a much larger plot. Not Your Sidekick is a refreshing take on the superhero trope and tackles a lot of important issues in a joyous story.

Running with the Lions by Julian Winters

Running with the Lions is a sports romance set at a summer camp. Sebastian Hughes is star goalie of an incredible team with a coach that doesn’t ask anybody to hide their sexuality. But when Emir, an estranged best friend turned enemy, turns up at the camp, Sebastian is determined to regain his trust. Not many books deal with sexuality in sports and the relationships in the football team are incredibly heart-warming. The book also features positive descriptions of multi-ethnic groups and many different sexual orientations, including a bisexual main character.

As we trawled the depths of the internet looking for children’s books with bisexual characters, we noticed a theme: bisexual representation is severely lacking in children’s literature, particularly anything outside of the YA genre. Will the popularity of Heartstopper spark new discussions in children’s literature? We sure hope so!



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