Something I’ve been working on, as an avid reader, is reading more diverse books. Some of you may have seen the hashtag above on social media. Some of you may have also wondered what this campaign is about. On their official website, weneeddiversebooks, the mission statement says:
We Need Diverse Books™ is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honours the lives of all young people.
How we define diversity:
We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of colour, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
We Need Diverse Books works “…to address the continuing lack of diversity in children’s literature…” (according to theGuardian).
Now, why do we need more diversity in books? Simple. Children are affected by everything around them. What they see and hear shape their ideas and perspective of the world. Children look for what they have in common with people. Therefore, if every book features a white, cisgendered, “normal” person, it’s hard for children to relate to the characters they read about. Furthermore, for white children in particular, being told a “single story” (this can be explained later on in this post) can distort their views of the world.
In a survey of 2,000 schools, 90 percent of the educators believed children would become more enthusiastic readers if they had books reflecting their lives.
So, what are the benefits are there to reading diverse books? (they=readers of diverse books)
They reflect the world and people of the world
They teach respect for all cultural groups
They serve as a window and a mirror and as an example of how to interact in the world
They show that despite differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations (Source here)
They can create a wider curiosity for the world
They prepare children for the real world
They enrich educational experiences (Source here)
If this interests you, here are a few things that you can do.
On their site, We Need Diverse Books states that they’ve launched an Indigogo fundraising campaign. When you donate, your money will be going towards: diversifying classrooms, supporting diverse authors, promoting diverse programming, developing educational kits and to hosting WNDB’s inaugural Kidlit Diversity Festival.
Show your support and spread the word
Create a card saying why you care about diverse books, post a picture on social media using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks and show your support!
Read diverse books
Of course, read what you want to read. But try and read different books, diverse books. Some examples are: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodsen, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez, The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and many, many more!
Now, to share a little bit of what I learned at ST. FX’s Me To We Leadership Camp. If you have the time, I urge you to watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s (an author and feminist) TedTalk called The Danger of a Single Story. As Chelsee Yee in her review puts:
“…[Adichie] reminds us that we must not only seek diverse perspectives, we must also tell our own stories, ones that only we can tell about our own personal experiences.”
Follow WeNeedDiverseBooks on Twitter here!