Monday, 12 October 2015

I Want More Diversity in YA Literature

To be honest I basically only read YA books apart from a couple of children's books and (rarely) adult books. I am trying to extend on the genres that I read but the thing is I really enjoy reading YA books. But when I read books from other genres I start to notice a problem with a lot of YA books that I've read. There are so few books that represent minorities and have diverse characters as the main protagonists.

If you look at the YA books that you own or have read how many have diverse characters (different nationalities, cultures, genders, LGBTQ+ or disabilities/illnesses) as an important part of the story? I think in general you might find that there is very little diversity in YA literature. (Unless you are very careful in researching and picking out books with diverse characters in which case, go you!)

Let me explain this, I don't mean to say that there aren't any diverse characters at all in YA but when there are they are a lot of the times only defined by their differences. I feel like almost all YA books with diversity are contemporary or realistic fiction books that deal solely with how the protagonist has a hard life and deals with their struggles. And while I appreciate these books because they are very important to help educate people and help them learn about another person's situations and perspectives I also think that there should be books involving diverse characters that don't focus on their issues only.

I want to be able to read more books where the main character (not only some random supporting characters) are diverse and it's part of the story but not the main plot. Not all young adults and teenagers reading books within this genre connect with the standard protagonists of YA books because we are all different in so many ways and somehow these differences aren't being portrayed as much in YA books.

Most of the popular books in the YA genre that are in bookstores are written by American and English authors and while there are a couple of books representing diverse characters within these books, it would also be a lot easier to find diversity in books written by authors from different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures. YA books written by diverse authors are definitely harder to find especially in physical bookstores since YA is such a new genre but there are still quite a lot of these books, you just have to look extra hard to find them. Some of my favourite places to find suggestions for diverse YA books are the tumblr pages Diversity in YA and We Need Diverse Books.

Here are also some books/ book series featuring diverse characters that I personally have really enjoyed reading:

Okay so to wrap this up, I'm not saying that we shouldn't read and enjoy all the YA books that already exist, I just think that we should have a wider range of books with diverse characters to choose from. I want contemporaries that focus on the main character being different as well as fantasy novels where the protagonist being diverse is acknowledged and just part of the story without being the main focus of the story. I want all the diversities in diverse YA books :) 

What do you think about diversity in YA books? Do you agree with me/disagree? Have you read any diverse YA books that you have enjoyed? Comment below so I can check them out :)


  1. I completely agree with you. I actually read very few books with diverse main characters.

    1. Rightt? I didn't really notice this that much before and I've only recently realized how little diversity there is!

  2. I've only thought about this a little bit before, but reading this really made me realize how many YA books I read that aren't diverse at all or very little. I agree with everything you've written here, diversity should really become more seen in YA books and not be such a rarity. The story is obviously very important in a book, but the characters really affect how well you relate to and see the story. Having more diversity in characters while keeping to the actual story (and not focusing solely on the characters' differences, like you said) is really important and I completely agree that there should be more of this in literature read by teenagers / young adults.

    P.S. A really good book that I read is 'This Song Will Save Your Life' by Leila Sales. It doesn't necessarily address diversity, but it shows a beautiful story about a girl coming to accept who she is. A quote that really stood out to me from the book is:
    "You think it's so easy to change yourself. You think it's so easy, but it's not. True, things don't stay the same forever: couches are replaced, boys leave, you discover a song, your body becomes forever scarred. And with each of these moments you change and change again, your true self spinning, shifting positions - but it always returns to you, like a dancer on the floor. Because throughout it all, you are still, always, you: beautiful and bruised, known and unknowable. And isn't that - just you - enough?"

    1. Yess I'm so glad you see it that way too! Also I've read "This Song Will Save Your Life" and I loved that book..I don't know how but I didn't notice this or I don't remember this quote but that is absolutely beautiful <3