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#WeNeedDiverseBooks has been a rallying cry among readers and writers on social media, calling to attention the lack of diversity in books, particularly in children’s and young adult genres.
It’s great to see so much attention focused on this important issue. Reading was a big part of my life growing up, but I always wished for more black female heroines in the children’s section of the library. According to a University of Wisconsin study, less than 8% of children’s books were written by or about people of color in 2013. Books are powerful in shaping how children and young adults view themselves and the world. In this increasingly connected and diverse society, it’s important that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, class, or sexual orientation, are able to experience the joy of seeing their stories told on paper.
Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks Helps Writers
Writers play a key role in making sure the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is a success. Readers are more than ready for diverse characters and plots in books. This is a great time to look into writing about different cultures and people you haven’t considered before.
The myth that books featuring people of color as main characters are too “niche” and do not sell is false. #WeNeedDiverseBooks shows that there is a strong market for books that portray the diversity of our world.
What Writers Can Do
#WeNeedDiverseBooks challenges us to step away from our comfort zone and write about characters that may not look like us. Here are a few things writers can do:
Get acquainted with the wonderful writers, readers, and bloggers who are spearheading the campaign. A great place to start is the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter page.
Support books that depict diversity. Whether you read romance or science-fiction, show that books with diverse characters, cultures, and lifestyles are valued.
Commit to writing about a character with a different race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation than you. Just starting can open the door to new possibilities. The Summer Writers Club is a great avenue for this.
Leave a comment below telling us how you feel about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Also, drop by our discussion boards and share your plans or experiences writing the “other.”