I was at KidLitCon last weekend, which was on the theme of ‘Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?’ Kelly Jensen, of Stacked and Book Riot, threw down the challenge to us all, to audit what we read and assess how diversely we are reading. I decided to have a look, with a sneaky feeling that the answer would be: not very. And, indeed it was.
It’s not a particularly scientific audit – I just went back through Goodreads for 2014 and tried to remember if a book had a main or support (but important, not just in the background) character that was ethnically or culturally diverse, in any way mentally or physically challenged or GLBQT. I realized that somehow I didn’t have any shelves that would highlight ethnic and cultural diversity – fixed that straight away. Because I’m a bit lazy, I did not check the diversity of authors as that involved me looking stuff up.
Of the 51 kid or YA books I’ve read so far this year, as far as I could remember there have been a total of 12 with diverse main characters (mostly ethnically or culturally diverse) and 16 with diverse support characters (pretty evenly spread across my three categories – well done, the gay best friend!).
So not as bad as I thought, but I definitely could do better; so I’m planning to actively look out for books with diverse characters in the future. (And also try and read a bit more – 51 was a lot lower than I thought!)