The We Need Diverse Books movement is important for so many reason. Yes, we need diverse books – diverse in representation, in authors, in editors, in illustrators.
We need these books for readers – for ALL readers. The other day I wrote about relatability. Books can be mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors. They need to be that for EVERY ONE. It is imperative that readers are able to find their identities in books. And not just find their identities – but find authentic representations of those identities. Complex and multilayered representations.
It is also crucial for readers to find identities in books that are not like there own. It is AS important – if not more – for these representations to be complex, multilayered, and authentic. As a straight person, I need to read books with representations of gay characters that are more than the persecuted or hated by their family. As a white person, I need to read stories of other races that are more than just what has historically been written.
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement is crucial because we need these books to be published and readily available. I was reminded of this when a friend shared an article titled 18 Books Every White Ally Should Read. I was excited about the list because I just finished listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and have been searching for something to read next. So I went to my local library’s website reserve some of them. For the titles my library did not have (over half of the 18), I searched the state wide inter-library loan system. This was even more interesting to see because I could identify which communities had which books as well as what types of libraries had some of the books. Often they were found in University Libraries but in fewer public libraries. When titles are available in public libraries, they are often either in Urban areas or University towns.
So what is my point? The point is that books that represent a variety of races and cultures need to be available to all readers in all communities. I know that it isn’t possible for libraries to have every book and it is fantastic that we have an interlibrary loan service. But we also need to work to make all readers aware of what is available.
Yes #WeNeedDiverseBooks. But also #WeNeedtoREADdiversebooks