Exactly Why We Need Diverse Books

by Morgan Ribera

For those who haven’t noticed over the course of their ritual afternoon Twitter perusal, #WeNeedDiverseBooks is trending. People are taking to Twitter to express their desire for diversity in lit: more young adult novels starring protagonists of color, more multicultural writers recognized for their work, more female superheroes in fantasy, fewer stereotypical portrayals of minority characters in fiction, fewer heterosexual couples dominating the romance genre — I don't have to keep going.

This latest viral hashtag is part of a larger campaign organized by Ellen Oh and several other civic literature devotees. In recent weeks, media outlets have incited a dialogue surrounding the lack of diversity in children's literature and the #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks campaign was spurred by the impassioned discussions that followed as well as the recent BEA BookCon fiasco in which an all-white male panel of "luminaries" in children's literature was recognized.

As their Tumblr page details, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is a three-day operation in which individuals will discuss the importance of diversity in literature across various social media platforms. The campaign will begin on May 1 with a call for readers to create promotional signs expressing their desire for diverse books and posting photos of their creations on social media. On May 2, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks crew will host a conversation on Twitter starting at 2 P.M. EST. The final day will feature a “Diversify Your Shelves” call to action, encouraging readers, teachers, and librarians to add color to their bookshelves and, of course, photograph the results to be shared online. Another virtual chat will also be hosted for readers to share reccomendations and reviews of their favorite diverse works.

The hope is that the hashtag and the events surrounding it will long outlive the three-day campaign and ignite some systematic changes within our literary world. So far, Twitter users like these are giving us reason to believe it will:

Mic drop, @rrrubenstein. Mic drop.