I recently read a review of a young adult novel in which the reviewer criticized it for not having diverse characters. I re-read the review to try to figure out why the reviewer thought this particular novel needed more diversity.
But I came up empty, and much as I passionately embrace the need for more diversity in YA, I felt this reviewer was misunderstanding what this actually means. Novels should not have to pass a diversity litmus test. That would, in my opinion, be contrary to the inclusive spirit of diversity.
Rather, diversity in YA means that publishers need to be more open to novels that genuinely represent diverse voices. Authors who write diverse characters should be welcomed and encouraged to do so. And yes, writers should consider diversity more when coming up with the cast of characters for their novels, if it makes sense for the story they want to tell. And I’d argue that diversity extends beyond race, ethnicity, and gender to characters that break the mold of what we see in YA today. There has been progress regarding diversity in YA but we still have a ways to go. Here are some links that get diversity in YA right.
- This excellent piece calls on the media to take a look at 21 Diverse YA Books That Need To Be Movies.
- Read about how this Bookcon event in 2014 where there were “more cats than people of color scheduled” launched the We Need Diverse Books campaign.
- A year later, we are seeing these fantastic new releases that feature young adult books “starring people of color or written by people of color.”
- And here are YA Titles That Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
- We are thrilled to share the 2015 Rainbow List.