Seeing Yourself in What You Read: We Need Diverse (YA) Books

Robin Brenner | December 13, 2016

Today’s post comes from Maddi Ranieri at our Coolidge Corner library.

The great thing about books is getting to live vicariously through fictional characters as they fall in love, deal with their families, begrudgingly accept their role as the prophesied leader of the rebellion, discover magic is real (and so are their newfound powers), live through major historical events, or travel the world on summer vacation. But what if you don’t see yourself in the books you read? What if those worlds you’re reading about, even the original ones created in amazing detail by a sci-fi or fantasy author, mostly feature white, cisgendered, able-bodied, neurotypical, straight teens?

This “what if” is an unfortunate reality, but is something that many folks, especially librarians, readers, and activists, are trying to change. Our real world is not made up of only white, cis, straight people, so why should our books be? Using resources such as We Need Diverse BooksThe Gay YA, Rich in Color, and The Bookavid, I created a teen book display (across from my longstanding Black Lives Matter display) at the Coolidge Corner library that features books by folks who are everything but the above categories.

Now more than ever, it is important for libraries to be safe, welcoming places where teens can come and feel seen, heard, and respected. By featuring and talking up books by and about people of color, LGBTQ people, disabled people, and neurodivergent people, it is my hope that the teens who come here can see their voices being lifted up instead of silenced.

Stop by the Coolidge Corner library and grab something from the display, ask me about the display (or let me know if there are books you think I should add!), or check out the list below and reserve something new.

“In Our Own Words” book list:

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