There is a current national campaign, We Need Diverse Books, to promote diversity in publishing for children and teens. One of our librarians, Alicia, got the opportunity to see W.N.D.B. founding members speak earlier this summer. People of different races, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, mental and physical challenges exist in our society. Studies have shown that there are relatively few books being published that reflect this diversity of potential readers.
Three debut young adult novels Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Under A Painted Sky, and Far From You are great examples of books that reflect this diversity of potential readers. These books have nothing in common except for having well developed heroines with riveting narratives.
In Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero produced a powerful coming of age story about a likable, young, smart, resilient Latina, facing various challenges in her life. She finds courage and humor from her friends, family and creative writing. She has problems ranging from her father’s meth addiction and body image concerns. Read other coming of age stories that are touching, realistic, and hopeful with characters who are from diverse cultures and circumstances.
In Under A Painted Sky, Stacey Lee created an historical adventure story about two girls, one African American and one Chinese American, who escape harrowing circumstances in the pre-Civil War West. They disguise themselves as boys and runaway to freedom and the California Gold Rush. Here are some other wonderful books with historical adventures of teens on the run plus a few books to give historical background behind some of these stories.
In Far From You, Tess Sharpe tells a story of mystery and endurance of a bisexual, disabled teen girl recovering from trauma and substance abuse. Check out these books featuring diverse teens dealing with some dark events.
As part of Banned Book Week (September 27-October 3), Multnomah County Library is hosting a panel discussion featuring the authors of the above books, Isabel Quintero, Stacey Lee, and Tess Sharpe. The conversation will be moderated by local professor and author, Swati Avasthi. We are calling this event Censorship by Omission: The Diversity Deficit.
Please mark your calendars and join us for Censorship by Omission at Midland Library (805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97233) on Saturday, October 3rd, at 2-3:30 PM.