Thursday, July 30, 2015

Today I am happy to announce that YA Diversity Book Club has been going strong for a whole year!

To celebrate, Teen Lit Rocks and the Reading Date are giving away a bunch of amazing books. DO NOT WALK RUN RUN RUN to their sites and enter for your chance to win!

And since you're already clicking around, please head on over to YADBC's new Tumblr and Twitter accounts too. That's where we'll be announcing each month's selection so that people can join the club and read along with us. We're also going to move from private discussions between the four of us to live Twitter chats (hashtag TBD) with anyone and everyone who wants to participate.

Here's to cultivating a more diverse readership of more diverse YA books!

In honor of YADBC's anniversary, I'd like to share a few things that I've learned from a year of consciously seeking out diverse YA.

- There are many kinds of diversity. 

Race, of course, is a big one. Sexuality, too. We've also read about religion (twice), class/poverty, and disability. Many of the books covered more than one type of diversity, too. Because people are beautifully multi-faceted.

All that in just one year -- 10 books -- and all that is just touching the surface.

- Not all diverse books are about diversity.

Sometimes the diverse elements are just inherent to the characters, not a Big Thing that the plot revolves around.

Sometimes a book's diversity comes directly from its author, because writers who are not part of the dominant culture inherently offer an Othered perspective or speak with an Othered voice.

- Diversity is a good thing, but a book that includes diversity is not automatically a good book.

Sometimes a diverse book just isn't very well-written. The characters are one-dimensional, or the plot moves slowly, or the language is dull. *shrug* It happens, and it has nothing to do with diversity.

When the problem is due to diversity, it's usually because of insufficient research, or research that has been poorly deployed -- i.e., misinformation and stereotyping.

Some people believe that bad representation is worse than no representation. Others believe that increased visibility is better than invisibility. Either way, I think the ideal we should be striving for is prominent AND accurate diversity.

Failing isn't fun, but what matters most is that we keep trying, and failing better, and trying again.

- Not everyone will agree on whether or not diversity has been portrayed appropriately.

One of the best things about reading is that it's largely about personal connection and interpretation. A story is written by an author, but it is brought to life by a reader and their imagination. Naturally, that means there will be differing opinions. For example, some people objected to ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell, whereas I found it to be a true-to-life and moving portrayal of mixed Asian heritage.

Debating right or wrong isn't the point; discussing is.

That's why we started this book club: to explore the rich world of diversity in YA literature, to spotlight it for the community, to learn from it. Contemporary, historical, romantic, adventurous, high fantasy, low sci-fi, mid paranormal, whatever! Diversity can be found in every genre. Diversity can entertain, challenge, and nourish all at the same time.

But as of right now, diversity is still underrepresented in YA literature. #WeNeedDiverseBooks

These are the things that I have learned during our first year of the YA Diversity Book Club. Here's to next year, and new lessons, and more great books! I hope you'll join us.


The Reading Date said...

I loved reading your first year reflections, Kristan! I enjoy hearing what you have to say in our monthly discussions. And this, yes: "Either way, I think the ideal we should be striving for is prominent AND accurate diversity." Cheers to more diverse reading!

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

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