Diversity Writing Toolkit
There’s a diversity gap in the books being published, the films being made, and in other media. And that’s not OK, for many reasons. There’s been a continuing conversation among publishing professionals, readers, and writers about how to boost more diverse voices and have more accurate and inclusive representation of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability, socioeconomic status, and more, in books. Here at Swoon Reads, we always have an eye out for fabulous YA that represents a wide diversity of experience.
Here, I’ve collected just a few of many resources that might help when writing, thinking, and talking about diversity and representation in books and media.
A few disclaimers: Of course, we don’t control the content on any of these sites. And this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but I hope it’ll be a good jumping off point for writers who are seeking resources about diversity. This list is culled from a few of the sites and sources I’ve been bookmarking and perusing lately, but there are so many more. Also, I don’t have room in this post to talk about why diversity is so important, but you’ll find thoughtful writing about that in many of the sites linked below.
Resources for writers
Started last year, We Need Diverse Books is dedicated to boosting diversity in books and the book biz. They’ve been leading an important conversation about diversity, and offer resources for writers. Follow them on Twitter or Tumblr for updates.
This is a great resource for writing diverse characters. It’s full of information about writing books that feature people of color, with an incredibly valuable FAQ and posts ranging from common stereotypes and tropes, to words for skin tones, and a resource page of their own.
The Children’s Book Council is the national nonprofit trade organization for children’s book publishers, and they have an initiative that’s focused on increasing diversity in the publishing industry and in the authors and books who are published. They have tons of resources on their site, including a toolkit for writers.
You know Malinda Lo as the author of Ash, Huntress, and Adaptation. She also runs two fabulous diversity-focused blogs: Her personal blog has some great posts about topics like LGBTQIA+ books and characters and writing craft, while Diversity in YA (which she co-founded with author Cindy Pon) features new releases, diversity stats, book lists and more. They’re both worth perusing and bookmarking.
Mitali Perkins, author of Tiger Boy, Bamboo People, Rickshaw Girl, among others, maintains a blog that talks about multiculturalism, writing about topics such as race and ethnicity in children’s books, writing life, multicultural events and resources and more.
Talking and thinking about diversity in media
Twitter chats about diversity
You’re probably aware of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, but there are plenty of other great hashtags and Twitter chats to keep an eye out for as well. Twitter chats about reading, writing, and blogging diversity can introduce you to some amazing resources, book recommendations, and things to keep in mind as you write. For example, there is a monthly #WeNeedDiverseBlogs twitter chat (the most recent one is collected here), and you can follow @DiverseBooks to hear about any upcoming Twitter chats that they host (you can read a past #wndbchat here). Twitter is a great place to follow and join the conversation about diversity, where writers, bloggers, readers, and industry folk can all chime in.
Rainbow Boxes is an awesome initiative that purchases and donates books with QUILTBAG/LGBTQIA+ characters to shelters and libraries (and they have an Indiegogo campaign). Though they aren’t really focused on writing as a craft, they have a lot to say about YA with queer characters and the importance of representation. Follow them on Twitter for some great pearls of wisdom about writing queer characters, for reading suggestions, and information about why these books are important.
This is a series of videos offering a feminist critique of pop culture, especially video games. Though this isn’t technically about YA, writing, or diversity, it’s a smart look at how representation in the media affects readers/viewers/gamers, and it critically examines media to see what types of characters are present. And though this is a feminist critique, it’s intersectional, and gives viewers some useful tools to examine the books they read and write.
Reading and thinking about diverse books
As the name suggests, this is a great site for all things LGBTQIA+ in YA. They have a master list of queer YA, plus they talk about new releases, feature guest posts by authors, and talk about the representation of queer characters in YA.
[Updated] Thank you to our commenters for pointing out that we left off Disability in Kidlit, a blog that is really required reading for those seeking to read and/or write diverse books. From reviews and interviews to discussions about tropes and resources, this blog contains a wealth of valuable information about disability in childrens' books.
Bookriot is an awesome and smart site dedicated to books and reading, with a social justice angle. There’s lots of great posts about diversity in books. Plus you’ll find reading lists and thinkpieces that focus on diversity. (I’m also a fan of their Bookriot Podcast, which focuses on bookish news but calls out diversity news especially.)
YA Interrobang is a blog focused on all things YA—and they have a whole section devoted to diversity. Though the site is reader-focused rather than craft-focused, there are many articles and stories from YA authors about writing diverse characters.
The conversation about diversity in books is ongoing, and these are only a few of many resources out there about diversity and representation in media and books. What are your go-to resources for writing and thinking about diversity in books? What are some of your favorite books representing diverse voices or experiences?