YA Wednesday: Diversity (Still) Needed!

I was fortunate to enjoy a young adult fiction double header a couple of weeks ago. It began on a Friday night with a panel of five YA authors at Wellesley Books, followed the next day by the 5th annual Boston Teen Author’s Festival, showcasing 35 authors. It’s always inspiring to hear other writers discuss their struggles, writing process, even the music they listen to while writing (seriously, that was one of the questions asked to all 35 panelists). Not surprisingly, the perennial issue of diversity in YA came up. Two of the authors at both events, I.W. Gregorio (None of the Above) and Nicola Yoon (Everything Everything), tackle subjects and feature protagonists rarely, if ever, seen in YA fiction. Yoon’s book is about a biracial girl with the ‘bubble boy’ disease who’s unable to leave her house. Gregorio’s book is about a girl who discovers she was born intersex. But these kinds of books are hardly the norm. There’s an increasing concern about the lack of and continued need for more diversity in YA, as the following links demonstrate.

• To help close the diversity gap in YA literature, the National Education Association Foundation, publishing house Lee & Low Books, and the nonprofit First Book will provide thousands of diverse books to schools and students in low-income communities.

• Here’s why we need diverse YA books more than ever.

• Apparently, YA skews way more toward female POVs. Here’s a case for why more boys’ POVs are needed.

• Controversy erupted when a Young Adult lit mag suggested a bisexual character in Run wasn’t okay for younger readers.

• And don’t forget other kinds of diversity. Not every kid likes to read novels. For some, a new YA comic will do the trick.

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