( Enrique Moreiro for The Washington Post)

By Alex Gino.

Ages 8 to 12.

Be the lead in the school play? For some kids, that would be a big challenge. But George hopes that playing the part of Charlotte, a wise spider, will help her with an even bigger challenge: letting others know her true self.

George is a girl who has been labeled “male” since birth. She knows that she is a girl, but everyone else sees her as a boy. Even her mom, older brother and best friend, Kelly, have no idea. Two bullies pick on her. What if they discover her secret and try to shame and hurt her? And even worse, what if the people she loves can’t accept who she is?

(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

But George is tired of pretending. She looks at magazines such as “Seventeen” and wishes she could wear makeup and skirts like the girls in the photos. She wants people to call her by the name she has given herself: Melissa.

Being in the fourth-grade play might help, George thinks. It is based on the novel “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White.

George admires the kind, talented character, Charlotte, who spins words into her web to save the life of her pig friend, Wilbur. She decides to try out for the part of the spider. When others see her in this female role, George hopes that they will realize that she is, indeed, a girl.

The teacher has a rule, though: Boys must try out for the male parts and girls for the female ones.

Kelly considers this unfair. Then George tells Kelly her secret, and the two come up with an amazing plan. But will it work?

At the end of the novel, Alex Gino, the author, describes the challenge of writing this book. It took about 12 years and many revisions. But it was worth it.

Gino is “genderqueer,” which means neither male nor female. Like the character George, who is a transgender girl, Gino had self-doubts and questions as a kid.

“I wrote the book I wanted to read as a kid,” Gino says.

You might also like . . .

Liv, a transgender boy, objects to the school dress code, which would force him to wear a skirt in The

Pants Project by Cat Clarke. Readers ages 10 to 14 should look for Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart, a story about how two friends — Lily, a trans girl, and Dunkin, a boy with bipolar disorder — help each other during tough times. Do you have a favorite book about a challenge? If so, tell us about it at wapo.st/challengebooks, and you could win a selection of books at the end of the summer.

Next week

Midnight Without a Moon

By Linda Williams Jackson.

Ages 9 to 13.

Rose Lee Carter, 13, wonders how much more she can take of her small-town Mississippi life. Rose narrates Midnight Without a Moon, set over four months in 1955, and she can’t stand the discrimination, money troubles and violence her family faces; the now-famous murder of a young Chicago visitor named Emmett Till happens nearby. Fortunately, Rose has a best friend and a strong sense of purpose to help her get through this terrible summer.

How to join

The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 5 to 14. Children may read some or all of the books on

our list. The first 500 kids registered will receive a drawstring book bag with the book club theme. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2017 or send the child’s first and last names, age and address to KidsPost Summer Book Club, The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.