Saturday, May 3, 2014


We Need Diverse Books. Just four words that are filled with hope, longing and determination to ensure that books for kids and teens truly reflect the rich diversity of our nation. Today marks the end of what I hope is just the initial phase of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, and it's been incredibly inspiring to witness the outpouring of support from around the world for this effort. Blogger Joyce Valenza offers a good wrap-up of what's been happening so far, as does this L.A. Times article.

There have been some great "next steps" proposed, such as this "white paper" prepared by librarian Jamie Campbell Naidoo for the Association for Library Service to Children, the children's division of the American Library Association. And there's also been a sharing of the resources highlighting what books are currently available that reflect a diversity of characters and setting in children's and teen books.

More needs to be done, however. All of us need to make it clear to publishers that we DO want them to publish more children's and teen books featuring all kinds of diversity, including characters who are African-Americans, LBGT,  grappling with physical and mental challenges, etc., etc., etc. There are some publishers out there that already are doing this, publishers like Lee & Low, and we need to support them by buying their books for our collection and then USE them in Story Times, booktalks, displays, etc.  And we need to keep pushing awareness of why having diversity in children's and teen books is so important.

It's a tall order, and it won't be easy. Some people think the problem will once again fade away into the background, just as it has done in years past. But I'm betting that this time is different. This time, with the help of the Internet, we've had such a groundswell of support from all kinds of people from all around the world, that I think the issue CAN'T fade away.

 I'm already inspired to do more, and have begun searching even harder for books that can expand the diversity of our library's collection, and I'm also planning to do more to use these books in programs.

How about you? What are you doing to keep alive the message that #WeNeedDiverseBooks?

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