What I've been struggling with since then is how I, as a southern white woman raised in a loving home, can do anything to help this movement. I do have diverse characters in the Cheyenne Lane trilogy (as you will come to see), but they are not the focus of the story. I don't feel that I have the right to tell the story of a black child experiencing racism, or a Muslim child experiencing persecution, or a gay child just realize who they are. It would be my worst nightmare to misrepresent someone's life and their story who might try to connect with these characters.
So what do I do? What do we as white readers and writers do to spur this movement forward? We be informed; WE read diverse and uplift the amazing diverse writers that have come into the YA sphere. We put these books in our bookstores and libraries so that they may fall into the hands of a child who needs to hear that story.
The job of YA authors has become so much more than just telling stories. With the digital age, the realm of connection, we know our readers. We hear their stories, and understand their pain. We feel an obligation not only to these readers, but to our culture, to represent it accurately. The world is not filled with white, middle-upper class girls and boys. We are a race of many colors, with many troubles that connect because we are humans. All of us.
I definitely didn't know this was going to be part of the job when I first had the dream of becoming an author, but I'm going to do my best to Listen, Learn, Read, and Write to the best of my ability.
If you're interested in learning more about the diversity in movement in YA and children's literature, please visit We Need Diverse Books and Multicultural Children's Book Day.
Here's a list of YA authors and books spreading diversity into our reading:
- Renee Ahdieh: The Wrath and the Dawn
- Leigh Bardugo: The Grisha Trilogy & The Six of Crows Duology
- Melissa de la Cruz: Something in Between
- David Leviathan: Boy Meets Boy
- Julie Murphy: Dumplin' and Ramona Blue (coming in 2017)
- Jason Reynolds: Ghost, As Brave as You, All American Boys, among others
- Gabby Rivera: Juliet Takes a Breath
- Adam Silvera: More Happy Than Not, History is All You Left Me, & They Both Die at the End
- Sabaa Tahir: Ember in the Ashes & A Torch Against the Night
- Nicola Yoon: Everything, Everything & The Sun is Also a Star
And this is just a few of many to start with. I haven't read every book on this list. But I have met all except one of these authors, and they are all fantastic, wonderful, caring people.
Keep reading, y'all!