It is not hard to find people like me in the pages of books. A white, blond-haired girl is quite often the protagonist of stories and it has never been hard for me to find a representation of myself since I was a child. For many people this isn’t the case however, and you really have to search for a character, even a smaller one to represent ones self.
But just because it isn’t a problem for me, doesn’t mean I get to ignore it however, it means it should matter more to me. Over the past year and a half I have made it one of my goals to read more diversely; whether that is in the characters of the stories, the authors who wrote them, or the settings that they take place in and I believe that it has made me both a better reader and a better person.
I was inspired to take this on by such organizations as “We Need Diverse Books” and a Reading Bingo I found at the end of 2016 entitled “Diverse Bingo.” Each square on this bingo sheet related to a different diverse topic and throughout the year I challenged myself to read something from every category. Some were a lot harder to find than others and you can check out the books I did read for this challenge here.
Not only did this challenge get me reading book that I never would have experience otherwise it also showed me how hard it is to find certain books and how that has never been something that was on my mind.
While this year the creators of Diversity Bingo didn’t create another one I still wanted to keep challenging myself to read more diversely so I found another one, this one with one book to read a month that is related to a celebrate of this month. You can read more about the categories and the books that I chose to read this year here.
Not every person in the world looks like me and as such not every book should have characters that are like me, from the earliest of picture books to both adult fiction and non-fiction alike. That is a change that can start from us, the readers, demanding more diverse books and writing from diverse authors. Seek these books out, don’t just read the books that are placed in front of you and promote these books that change the status quo.
To start you on your journey here a few of my favourite diverse books, that you can check out.
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
The story of a gender-fluid teen, this book is real and taught me a lot about what it is like to sometimes feel like a girl and sometimes feel like a boy.
- A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Based on a true story this book looks at life in Sudan and what it means to be a child in a place very different from our own.
- Lily and Dunkin by Donna GephartThis middle-grade novel deals with a transgender girl sensitively and wonderfully for the age range (and everyone else).
- You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
This book centers around a deaf student and her life of being the only non-hearing person at her new school, and also her secret night life of being a graffiti artist.
- The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland
Set in Sierra Leone, this book shows the horrors of child soldiers, a country destroyed by war, and a little girl who has the strength to carry on.
- The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
This graphic novel tenderly tells the tale of a Prince who sometimes wants to wear dresses and be a princess, and the one person who knows his secret.
- Homegoing by Yaa GyasiWhat happens when two half sisters are separated, one staying in Africa and one being sold into slavery and their lives are changed forever. Following many generations and how they eventually come back together.
So go off and read diversely and think about the characters in your books and who is writing these stories and don’t just look for yourself, but others as well.