Diversity in Children’s Books:
Why it is important for every kid to feel included in the stories they read
Diversity. It’s the in word, for TV shows and movies and definitely in children’s books. Our books must have diversity, so that all children can relate to the stories and the characters. They must be able to see themselves in the stories so that they can feel included. If they are, for example, Asian, and they read a book or see a show that has no Asian characters in it, they are seeing a world foreign to their own.
They are not represented.
This is absolutely correct and important and I have no argument with it. We do need to see more representation of different races and different cultures.
There are a couple of asides that I believe aren’t always looked at that are equally as important.
The first is this. If we just throw characters into our stories for the sole reason that we have diversity, we start to lose authenticity. We start to lose the truth of our story, and we are writing for a different reason. Diversity is important, yes, but not at the cost of truth.
The second thing is just as, if not more important, to me at least. Diversity, I believe, doesn’t just include race or religion or gender, it’s personality and interests as well. What’s the point in having someone of your race in a book you are reading if they are nothing like you? You won’t be able to relate to that anyway. We have kids who are shy and kids who are funny and kids who like sport and kids who hate sport and kids who are brave and kids who are scared and kids who do maths and kids who play the flute and kids who have goals and dreams and kids who like watching movies.
There needs to be diversity in this way as well, so that the children actually see themselves in a story, not just because of how they look or what church they go to, not just some generic representation, but actually who they are.
What they like and what they are like.
If we write honestly, if we write from our hearts, if we write from our experiences, then that will come through the story, there will be a range of characters and personalities and friends and enemies, from all races, religions and genders, all of whom exist not only in our worlds but in the worlds of the reader as well, and that is what the children will relate to.
That is where they will see themselves, as who they are or who they want to be.
So yes, have diversity in your stories but remember to be diverse in your diversity as well.
About the Author
A qualified Engineer and Primary School Teacher, Adam Wallace settled on writing books for children as his career of choice. With more than 20 published, including Better Out Than In and the How to Draw series, Adam is fast becoming a well-known name in the world of children’s books. You can find Adam's books at Adam Wallace Books and his Facebook author page here.
All you need to do, as a signed-up member of the Chapter Book Challenge, to enter into the drawing for "Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly" by Gail Carson Levine is to comment on this blog post. (If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to click on the link that will take you to the actual post and then comment.) Winners will be selected by a random number generator at noon on March 31st, 2018 and announced the same day.