The hashtag I am choosing to study is #WeNeedDiverseBooks.
The hashtag was first used about a year ago by librarians and authors throughout the country. Children’s and young adult literature is overpopulated by characters who are predominantly white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical, thin, and other things that many individuals consider to be the “norm.” As a result, books with characters outside of that norm are often ignored by publishers. While there’s nothing wrong with those books just because they aren’t diverse, they indirectly keep the publishing industry from changing. Since the world is changing and people are becoming more diverse, many people believe that children of diverse backgrounds aren’t being served by their literature. #WeNeedDiverseBooks is a cry for authors and publishers to write and publish books that portray more diverse worlds. It’s proven very successful; greater attention is being given to books that have characters from all backgrounds.
I’m interested in studying this hashtag because I am hoping to one day write for a young audience, and anything in the young adult literature community is a point of great interest to me. I also grew up with a disability, and suffer from depression and anxiety. Many people in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks community believe that more books need to talk about mental health and all sorts of disabilities. Many books that feature such conditions are riddled with stereotypes and offensive connotations. With the increased push for diversity, this is slowly changing. I want to study this hashtag because I’m interested in learning even more about the community. It’s very active, and full of very interesting stories to tell. Plus, it’s actually getting things to change (slowly, over time).
I have a lot of familiarity with books and texts relating to #WeNeedDiverseBooks. I try to read as many books about many different kinds of characters as I can. I follow the ALA Youth Media Awards every year, and this was a huge year for diversity in those awards. It was a very exciting thing to witness people excited about change, and what’s more, a lot of these new diverse books are really great stories. On social networks, I follow blogs such as Disability in Kidlit (which discusses portrayals of disabled characters in children’s and young adult books), and Gay YA (which discusses books about characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc.).
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag gets hundreds of tweets every day. These are generally by librarians, authors, and publishers. It’s been especially active lately as a result of the Youth Media Awards, and with other ongoing controversies in the publishing industry, it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon.