Tuesday, January 17, 2017

5 Things To Remember When Looking For Diverse Books

One of the things I try to do in my reading is look for diverse books to read. I also like to read books that are less well known, or books that maybe not everyone is talking about. The problem with both of these kinds of books is they are hard to find. Here are some things that I tell myself when I am discouraged:

1. There are a ton of great resources already out there to use! While it is hard to find diverse or lesser known books, there are a lot of other people committed to these things. Here are just some of the resources I use (and let me know what you use!)
We Need Diverse Books has a great Resources page (you could probably just look there instead of my list)
Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low that publishes diverse YA & MG.
Cake Literary
YA Interrobang is great about posting inclusive lists and features on diverse books.
Disability in Kidlit
49th Shelf has a bunch of diverse book lists, and also features diverse books on their blog (see this post where Indigenous authors recommend their favourite books).
The FOLD
Rich in Color also has a great Resources page.
Diversity in YA
Debbie Reese's blog
#ownvoices hashtag
#diversebooks
#indigenousreads
#quietYA
#diversebookbloggers, where diverse book bloggers recommend books!

I also scour a lot of Goodreads lists (which isn't always the best, since a lot of the time you keep coming across the same books), as well as just plain Googling. 

2. You don't have to read every diverse book you come across

This has made it a lot easier for me to read diverse books. There are a lot of diverse books out now, so you can pick and choose. Sometimes I feel like I have to read all of them if I want to support diverse books at all. But diverse books are just books! You can choose to read the ones that interest you. And if you can't find a diverse book in a genre that you like, maybe ask yourself why that is.

3. Publishing is NOT diverse (there has been a lot of research) and you will have to do some work

The structures of publishing are white, which means that the books that you find the most easily - the ones on tables out front in the bookstore, the ones that win awards, the ones that people are talking about, are probably for the most part not going to be that diverse. But do the work! Prove to publishers and booksellers that actually, books about all kinds of people do sell!

4. Listen

Listen to people about books that represent their identities. There have been a lot of books that represent peoples negatively and not at all accurately. The resources above can help with that. Especially on the internet, people like to talk a lot, and sometimes we really just need to listen.

5. It's worth it

Finding diverse books may be harder, but you might end up reading a book about something or someone that you would never experience or learn about otherwise. And maybe, just a little bit, you can help shift the publishing industry to represent all kinds of people, and then everyone will be able to find themselves in the books they read.

"The right book can foster empathy, dispel stereotypes, prompt discussions about race and ethnicity, and inspire children to imagine not only a world that includes them but also a world where they are the heroes of their own stories. Our books serve as both mirrors and windows, enabling children to see themselves, one another, and the diversity of their world."  - Lee & Low website

For further reading: Why We Need Diverse Literature and How To Find It by Rich in Color

What are your favourite resources to use to find diverse books?

6 comments:

  1. I don't look specifically for diverse books. But I don't put them down for that reason - unless they feel stereotypical.

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  2. Nice list! :)

    With the publishing one, supporting indie is a good way to go to support writers. Some writers choose indie because of the problems with publishing, while there are also small presses (like Transgress Press) targeted specifically to publishing works by and about marginalized groups.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I completely agree! I love indie presses, they are some of my favourite. There is a lot of great, really Canadian (and also diverse) literature that has come out of super small indie presses.

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    2. Sweet! I'm glad you've found good books that way.

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  3. This is a great post - especially for those just starting out with finding diverse books! :)

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Hey there! I really treasure every comment... whether it just be a hello or a deeper thought. I love hearing your thoughts! :)

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