YA Book Diversity


By Dale Spencer, @DaleSpencerwork

Over the past several years, there have been recent discussions on the lack of diversity in children’s books.

I find the topic to be interesting since most of the children being born in the U.S. today are minorities, including children born of mixed backgrounds. There’s a document that contains facts related to this trend called, Minority Population Growth— The New Boom, An Analysis of America’s Changing Demographics. It contains an abundance of charts, stats, and colorful pictures that ought to keep you entertained. I’ve listed some other resources below  that discuss how this trend is impacting the publishing industry where YA book diversity is in high demand.

The News Media Gives Insight on the Demand for Diversity
CNN released an article on April 4, 2014 titled, ‘Where’s the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss?’ I think the topic is self-explanatory, but I did want to share a couple of passages found in The Hunger Gamess book that are ambiguous to Katniss Everdeen’s heritage. While it’s clear that Harry Potter is European, Katniss’s character is open to interpretation.  On page eight, of the 2009 printed version of The Hunger Games, Katniss makes a comparison between herself and her friend Gale, mentioning,

“Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes. But we’re not related, at least not closely. Most of the families who work the mines resemble one another this way.” She then states, “That’s why my mother and Prim, with their light hair and blue eyes, always look out of place. They are. My mother’s parents were part of the small merchant class that caters to officials, Peacekeepers, and the occasional Seam customer.”

This passage may or may not suggest that Katniss and her litter sister, Prim, are of mixed heritage. One thing is certain though. Katniss’s mother’s family has fairer features who are a part of a wealthier class whereas her father’s family has darker features with lower income status. Even though the author Suzanne Collins doesn’t bluntly state Katniss’s true heritage in the book, I’m sure this description of Katniss is relatable to most teens and children of various backgrounds. I want to further note that there are other minority characters mentioned in the story that are unambiguous such as Thresh and Rue.

If your appetite is hungry for more articles on the same subject, try this one from Publishingperspectives.com. It provides additional discussion of the growing demand.

MTV Fans Rejoice: A Suggested List of Diverse Books
On May 14, 2014, MTV gave a diverse list of books it wanted to be made into movies in the article, Gay? Black? Latino? Here’s 21 Diverse YA Books That Need To Be Movies—Now, inspired by the popular trend on Tumblr and Twitter, #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Other Good Sites that Discuss YA Diversity along with Book Suggestions:

Diverse YA Titles Get Radar 

Does Diversity Make YA SFF Better? 

Heck YA Diversity Pro Tips Edition 

Embracing Diversity in YA Lit 

Are you looking for an awesome site that discusses new diverse YA books? Look no further. The website, www.diversityinya.com offers plenty of amazing titles that ought to satisfy your vivid imagination.

What are your thoughts on the subject?   

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One Response to “YA Book Diversity”

  1. more info Says:

    Excellent article. I am facing many of these issues as well..