Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Diversity in Young Adult and Middle Grade books

I’ve been following along in Marieke Nijkamp’s blog event DiversfYA lately. It’s been extremely illuminating.  If you get a chance, you should hop on over there and check it out.  It’s about diversity, or the lack thereof, in fiction for young people. 
That’s not to say there are no diverse characters in fiction today, but there could certainly stand to be more.  The world and its people are a rich kaleidoscope of experiences and our stories are too. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the stories of minorities seem to be rather rare in traditional publishing. 
Those I’ve read seem to fall on the tragic end of the spectrum, but not always.  Marcello in the Real World by Francisco Stork is a beautiful story about a young savant learning to function in the harsh, reality of everyday life.  Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda is a brutal look at what happens to a bullied Asian teen who’s immigrated to America.  These stories are honest and truthful and need to be told, but I think there’s room for minority characters in science fiction and fantasy too.  In fact, librarians who work in schools with minority kids are begging and pleading for it. 
Why aren’t these characters being reflected in published fiction?  Are white authors afraid to write characters outside their own race?  Are there less authors of color for some reason?  Do publishers avoid buying multicultural fiction?  I’m sure I don’t know the answers to all these questions, but I’d like to know your thoughts.  What would you like to read about? What multicultural books have you read that we should know about?

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