Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/opinion/sunday/the-apartheid-of-childrens-literature.html
Over the past few months there has been lots of talk about diversity in publishing. Readers, reviews, writers and even agents are calling for more diversity in books.
There is a call to stop “white washing” book covers, stop having the token diverse friends who bring nothing to the story, stop the stereotypes and most of all give us more. There are lots of kinds of diversity. It’s not just race. It’s sexual orientation, culture, religion, physical and mental disabilities etc. Anything that makes someone *different*
Now, even publishers are joining in on the call.
Here’s the problem. Publishing is a business and as much as publishers are hopeful that things will change, that there will be books that represent our world in a meaningful way, if the books don’t sell… they won’t be bought by publishers.
We need things to change.
So, there are two things we can do to help this problem.
1. Support the diverse kid lit already out there.
This week I found this post by MG author Shannon Messenger about a specific book coming out this month that she wants to see do well. It features a diverse set of characters including a black main character. I haven’t read this book, I don’t know how good it is or how well it represents diversity, but Shannon is on the right track here. We need to support the books we think deserve more attention. The more support give, the better the chances of that book doing what this industry desperately needs—selling!
So talk about the diverse books you come across. Buy them. Read them. Review them. Give them to kids. Give them to teachers. Support them.
2. Write great books with diverse characters.
If all the great books being written are about non-diverse characters than that is the kind of books that will gain the most interest and sell the most. Even if publishers *want* to find books that represent our diverse word, they won’t publish books of sub par quality. So it’s our duty to write incredible books that deserve to be published and represent our incredible diverse world, full of all kinds of people.
Writing diversity isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t fit the same demographic. So do your research. I suggest finding people who are like your characters. Writing with a Muslim character? Find a Muslim friend or fellow writer and ask questions. Let them read your book and see what they think. Writing about a blind character? Find someone to give you some advice.
You don’t have to build a plot around a diverse character, write your story but make sure you look at it with an open mind and look at it like the real world. The real world has people of all colors, backgrounds, and cultures so remember that when you’re writing.
Our world is beautifully diverse and our literature deserves to be the same.
And if you're on twitter, use the #WeneedDiverseBooks hashtag to get the word out even more. Why do you think we need diverse books? Tweet it!