In May 2023, a lawsuit was brought against Escambia County (FL) school district by PEN America, Penguin Random House, a group of parents, and several authors—including David Levithan.
With the mounting number of book challenges and bans being seen nationwide, David Levithan will speak to the issue from the point of view of both author and publisher. He is a long-time editor and publisher at Scholastic (he edited The Hunger Games books, Alex Gino’s Melissa, and many others). Levithan is used to having his own books challenged, too — including both Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing.
David will discuss how LGBTQIA+-themed kids and YA literature has evolved since the release of his first novel and how the publishing landscape has changed.
It has been twenty years since the publication of David Levithan’s first novel, Boy Meets Boy; the beginning of his impressive catalog of stories centering LGBTQIA+ characters.
In 2013, ten years after that initial release, Levithan published Two Boys Kissing, a book that is beloved by readers and received great acclaim, including a Lambda Literary Award, a Stonewall Honor, and being longlisted for the National Book Award. Levithan’s latest, RYAN AND AVERY, features characters who were first introduced in Two Boys Kissing. In a letter to readers, Levithan writes: “I made a resolution to write the most ambitious queer YA novel I had within me, as a way of recognizing in some way the decade that had passed [since Boy Meets Boy]. That book was Two Boys Kissing. Now, it’s been another ten years, and I am (very deliberately) bringing RYAN AND AVERY out into the world — a book I have worked on far longer and more carefully than any other book I’ve written.” He describes the new book as, “The most intimate, most focused, most moment-to-moment love story I could write.”
In RYAN AND AVERY, when the titular characters meet at a queer prom, they feel an instant connection. Levithan tells the story of the boys’ first ten dates as they bridge their initial shyness and fall in love — through snowstorms, groundings, meeting parents (Avery’s) and not (Ryan’s), cast parties, heartbreak, and every day and date in between.
A love story for the ages, RYAN AND AVERY is going to delight readers and become another important story in the canon of queer literature for young people.
David Levithan is a children’s book editor in New York City and the author of several books for young adults, including Lambda Literary Award winner Two Boys Kissing; Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (co-authored with Rachel Cohn); Take Me with You When You Go (co-authored with Jennifer Niven); Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-authored with John Green); and Boy Meets Boy, among many other novels for teens and kids. In 2016, David was named the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter at @loversdiction.
Sarah Darer Littman is the critically acclaimed author of Some Kind of Hate; Deepfake; Backlash; Want to Go Private?; Anything But Okay; In Case You Missed It; Life, After; and Purge. She is also an award-winning news columnist and teaches writing at Western Connecticut State University and with the Yale Writers' Workshop. Sarah lives in Connecticut with her family in a house that never seems to have enough bookshelves. You can visit her online at sarahdarerlittman.com.