Authors Lead the Charge for More Diversity in Children’s Literature
The 2014 BookExpo America convention was held this past weekend in New York City, and diversity in children and young adult fiction was the hot topic of discussion. The nationwide conversation was jumpstarted by the Twitter hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks, first coined by authors disappointed when BookCon released the names of highlighted speakers at this
year’s BookExpo, most of whom were white. The announcement came at a time of increased scrutiny upon the diversity of the book publishing industry, especially after a report released by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that less than 10% of the books received featured characters of color.
The hashtag campaign became quite large and attracted the attention of the BEA organizers. They responded by including a panel on the #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and the panel was so popular it quickly became a standing room only event. Topics included the need for more diverse literature, not only regarding people of color, but also LGBTQ characters and authors as well.
The Importance of Diversity in Children and Young Adult Literature
Encouraging the publication and marketing of diverse children and young adult fiction is vitally important not only to the book industry, but to the development of our society. The hashtag campaign highlights many of these reasons, and one of the most common themes has remarked on the importance of young readers of color to have access to books that reflect their own lives and experiences. Further, white children and adolescents broaden their worldviews when exposed to books that reflect the large and multicultural world around them.
Even though BEA is over for the year, there is no indication that the campaign for more diversity in children and young adult literature will slow down. If you want to become involved and contribute to the movement, you can find information and testimonials at The WeNeedDiverseBooks tumblr.