Well, when I was nine years old, Star Trek came on. I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, hum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t a maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.
Quote by Whoopi Goldberg.
I’m getting a bit personal here, but I have a panic disorder and some days I can’t even leave the house. I’m not saying this because I want you to pity me, but because I want to explain that sometimes I feel really alone. I know I’m not the only one going through this, but it does feel that way sometimes, and that’s where books can help me. It would be amazing to me to read a book about someone going through the exact same stuff, showing me that I’m not alone and giving me hope. I think that this is the same way other people feel. A book about someone like you can help you accept yourself, be proud of yourself and where you came from, and help you get through the struggles you’re facing right now. Besides that, by reading a book you can also see what another person is going through and can improve your empathy greatly. Friends of mine who read Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (a books about a girl with anxiety issues) now know what I’m feeling and what I’m going through, and know how they can help me. This is really amazing to me, and I want to do the same for other people.
“Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?”Quote by Walter Dean Meyers
Books are such a great teaching method. I get a lot of my ideas and opinions from reading about certain things in books, but how are we going to teach kids about the fact that everyone is equal and that everyone is important, when they only read about white kids in their books? Of course there are POC placed in the background-pictures, but that just isn’t enough. This is the root of a certain type of thinking. I remember seeing the video of two kids who had a black doll and a white doll in front of them and then they had to point to the ‘pretty one’ and to the ‘ugly one’. Both of these kids chose the white doll as the ‘pretty one’ and the black doll as the ‘ugly one’. These kids are so young and they do not get these opinions on their own. They do not wake up one day and decide that white people are prettier. I really believe that not representing everyone equally is one of the reasons why kids can start to think this way, and by representing everyone equally we can really change this.
The most simple reason why we need more diversity in books is probably this one. The reality is that there are POC, people with a disability and LGBTQIA+ people in this world, and to reflect what the real world is like we need to include them in the story. Period.
What can we do?
First of all, I want to point out that, in my opinion, we don’t have to ban all able bodied straight white authors. I, however, do want to make an effort to read more diverse authors and books, because there are many great ones that just aren’t on my radar right now. I also want to educate myself more on this topic. I already read a lot about this while doing my research, but there’s still a lot to learn.
Down below I have a few links that might help you if you’re interested in this topic.
Find out more about the topic
- Where to find diverse books
- Diversity in Young Adult and Middle Grade
- 2015 YA/MG Books With POC Leads
- 10 Recent Diverse* YA Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels
- Non-Caucasian Protagonists in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance
- 19 Unforgettable Children’s Books That Celebrate Diversity
- 34 Books By Indian Authors That Everyone Should Read
- Diverse voices: the 50 best culturally diverse children’s books
As I said, I still have a lot to learn about this topic. I am sorry about any mistakes that I might have made while writing this blogpost.