By Nannette Miranda
SACRAMENTO, CA - As summer nears, educators want to keep kids reading.
The California Department of Education just updated its list of more than 7,800 recommended books meant to prepare students for college and the ever-changing world.
MORE: California's recommended reading list
Included for the first time are winners of the Stonewall Book Awards, which recognize lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender literature.
"It's good to teach kids that everyone is different, and we are all people and that we can all be accepted for who we are," LGBT Youth Task Force's Spencer Douglas said. "I think it's really great to see these books being recommended."
MORE: Information about California's Reading List
The books are recommended according to age: from young kids' activity books celebrating gay rights leader Harvey Milk, to books for older kids like, I am J, a novel about transgender teens and Totally Joe telling about a boy coming out.
Social Conservatives are appalled. They said such topics promote alternative lifestyles and have no place on the state's official reading list.
"Your children are not being taught rigorous academics or critical thinking," SaveCalifornia.com Executive Director Randy Thomasson said. "They're being taught social engineering that will hurt them physically and emotionally."
The new books titles are recommended, not mandatory, and the state insists they were not chosen because of their LGBT themes.
"It's not based on content at all. It's mostly based on the quality of the literature," California Department of Education's Lupita Alcala said. "It could be non-fiction, fiction, biographies and poetry . . . We hope they actually get excited about reading and writing."
"I've seen the Harvey Milk activity book and it doesn't really make a big deal of Harvey Milk's sexual orientation," Douglas said. "He was a guy that really stood up for everyone."
The list also includes newly published works on immigration, such as De Donde?, a book that talks about alternative reasons why people come to the U.S. illegally.