Hi, I’m Danielle, and I’m a Reference Librarian in Medford. I’m really passionate about libraries, reading, and diversity and equity. If I can bring multiple of these passions together, even better! As a result, I spend a lot of time thinking about how books and libraries intersect with diversity and equity. From representation in library books to providing specialized databases and resources, there’s countless ways libraries can promote and provide services for the diverse needs of the community.
One particular intersection I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is representation in Young Adult fiction. I proudly read a lot of YA fiction as an adult, and I’ve been overjoyed to see a large increase in the last few years of diverse own voices books. The mainstream success of not only diverse characters but authors as well allows for authentic, well-rounded stories in genres from romance to science fiction. Historical fiction with pirates and LGBTQ+ romance? Consider The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. African American zombie fighters in Civil War era America? Consider Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. A coming of age story with a deaf graffiti artist? Consider You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner. It’s never been easier to find diverse books in YA fiction, and I have been a very happy (and busy!) reader as a result.
One of the reasons I love diverse books is because they act as both mirrors and windows for the reader. Mirrors so that we can see people like us in the books we read, gain validation, and connect with the characters that remind us of ourselves. Windows so that we can see the world from a perspective that is not our own, learn about other people and cultures, and hopefully know a little bit better what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. And while zombies and pirates probably aren’t mirrors or windows for most readers, the characters’ identities and behavior definitely can be.
On that note, I want to end by sharing a link to some YA books with diverse characters that acted as a mirror for me, taught me about others, or were just downright entertaining. These can be found here. I hope you’ll find your own mirrors and windows in their pages. YA fiction isn’t just for teenagers and young adults, and diverse books are for everyone.