There’s an ongoing and much-needed conversation about the need for more diversity in youth literature– and as much as we talk about it, the problem hasn’t been solved yet.
Did you read Entertainment Weekly’s analysis of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s report on the representation of people of color in children’s books? Notably, out of the 3,200 children’s books examined by the CCBC, only 93 were about black people. It’s not a pretty picture.
While there are fantastic YA and children’s books with representations of all kinds of diversity out there– several recent Printz titles come to mind, such as Eleanor & Park, Maggot Moon, In Darkness, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, The White Bicycle— we here at The Hub are always looking for more, more, more. And we’re not alone. There’s a campaign happening right now called We Need Diverse Books, intended to raise awareness of this important issue.
We’re participating by sharing photos of the many reasons we need diverse books.
-Allison Tran, currently reading The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
8 thoughts on “We Need Diverse Books”
I fully support we definitely need more diversity in our books. What we need to make sure we continue to emphasis is we need QUALITY books because the last thing we want is a slew of books being publish that do more harm than good to the industry.
I am on the bandwagon that wants diverse books … but as a single, white, female author I feel like I’m incapable of writing one. I recognize the problem but don’t know how to solve it.
I think you’re not alone with this concern, Jackie– but a lot of people believe that any writer can write about any type of character or setting, as long as they take care to get the details right, which can involve checking in with people from the culture or location you’re writing about.
I just read this piece on Tu Books’ approach, which involves cultural consultants: http://umakrishnaswami.blogspot.com/2011/07/interview-wednesday-stacy-whitman-of-tu.html
Sounds like a good model for any writer to follow!
You are so right that any author can write about diverse themes and characters in their books. Still, the fact is that #WeNeedDiverseBooks also represents the need for diverse authors being represented and sharing their stories as well.
GO YALSA! Thank you for joining in!
I also want to add as many diverse titles for children and young adults to our American Corner at UAE University in the United Arab Emirates, where we conduct literacy initiatives. I grab whatever I can, but also need to be sensitive to the culture here, so than may exclude books that explicitly show or describe sexual scenes, and other issues. I’d love it if anyone can suggest appropriate titles to add! Thanks!
Last year I blogged with the HUB and tried on more than one occasion to highlight books by authors of color and about kids of color in my Books Outside The Box blogs. Unfortunately I was censored when it was found that several of the books I wanted to blog about were not traditionally published. As a result, I no longer blog here, but this issue remains at the top of my list. While I applaud the HUBs efforts at this time, I will tell them what I told a group of librarians last month, it may be time to go where the diverse authors are. Many have decided to stop trying to natter down walls built to hold them out and instead are looking at small presses and independent publishing. Especially because when we do see books from the large publishers all too many of them have white authors who add in a few minor, stereotype characters, designed to break up the whiteness and allow them to claim they are being diverse. Diverse books are being published, HUB. But you may have to stray outside your preset guidelines to find them.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Hub bloggers are welcome to discuss and analyze relevant teen materials from any source, including small and independent publishers, as long as blogger guidelines are followed. If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shannon Peterson, YALSA President
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