Without shame, I’m stealing from Aisha Saeed, who summed up the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign perfectly on her blog:
I’m honored to be part of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign. It begins tomorrow, May 1st and ends May 3rd but the conversations have already begun with an overwhelming outpouring of support from publishers, agents, and authors like Veronica Roth, Laurie Halse Andersen, LeVar Burton, John Green, and so many many more, but most importantly, an outpouring of support from the public who desperately wants more diverse books. It’s a reminder we need diverse books and that there is an audience for books like these.
Does diversity matter to you? Do you want to read about people that represent a myriad of viewpoints and perspectives and backgrounds? Then Please Join Us!
For a basic understanding of how this came to be and the important dates please read here.
To follow along on tumblr where we’re answering questions as they come up please check here.
To RSVP on FB for a reminder and to spread the word to your friends please do so here.
To join the conversation on twitter that started early and shows no sign of stopping check out the hashtag: #WeNeedDiverseBooks and follow the campaign at our twitter handle here.
Send in your pictures. Share your thoughts. Spread the word. Join the movement. We need diverse voices represented in our beautiful diverse nation and this campaign gives hope for exactly more of that.
More on why this campaign is necessary: Statistics show that the percentage of children’s books with multicultural content has remained disappointingly flat over the past twenty years, despite the fact that more than 50% of US children under the age of one are minorities.
Additionally, the faces that our children see on bestselling bookshelves are resoundingly white. In 2013, only 7% of young adult bestsellers are by authors of color, and only 12% had main characters of color.
What does this mean for our children? As Walter Dean Myers said in the New York Times, children “see books less as mirrors and more as maps,” showing them places they might go. When kids of color read books where they are only in the background – if they are there at all – it can limit their destination.
Diversity in children’s literature is important for all kids, however. Books teach about other cultures, provide windows into the lives of those of different socio-economic status, and are key to combating ignorance and intolerance of all types of diversity, including sexual diversity.
So what can we do to diversify our shelves? First, awareness through a visual social media campaign via Twitter and Tumblr. Second, action. Underlying the lack of publisher support for diverse books is the perception that “minorities don’t buy books.” Thus, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign includes an effort to Diversify Our Shelves, with handselling and active buying of diverse books. For more on this project, click here.