14 readers tell us why diverse books are so important

Emily Morrow  //  Aug 20, 2018

14 readers tell us why diverse books are so important

Earlier this summer, we asked our readers to tell us why diversity in books mattered to them. The responses we received were beautiful, inspired, and heartwarming, and confirmed for us over and over again the importance of making sure that all kids can see themselves in the books they read.

Here is a selection of them:

Beatriz G.: I want a world where my kids can feel safe; a world where they would be able to choose who they love and not feel scared to express who they are.

Gina S.: Diverse books are important because they teach people about others. They help promote respect and empathy for all types of people.

Rachel M.: All students deserve to see themselves in books, to relate to the characters. I'm so excited we're finally coming into a time were we are seeing more and more diverse characters in that STARRING role! Students who aren't exposed to people different from them have the chance to learn through books and understand that while we may appear to have many differences, we still really truly do have much more in common. BOOKS can do this!!

Jennifer H.: Every student deserves to see themselves in the books they read. Books have the power to encourage students while at the same time enlighten other readers of the truths about lives they don’t live. And hopefully, that enlightenment will spur compassion, understanding, and change. George by Alex Gino was that book for me.

DeAnna S.: Growing up, I was the only mixed person in my school. I wasn't allowed to play princesses because there wasn't a dark princess. When I moved and went to a more diverse high school I was still alone because of my sexual orientation. Books allowed me to find people who are and were like me and in that never feel alone.

Amanda M.: Diversity matters because we need to see outside our own little world in order to make a difference in this life on a small and large scale.

Meghan B.: Diverse books are incredibly important, especially for children who are looking to see their own lives reflected in literature to know they are not alone, and also to introduce new thoughts and ideas so they know there is so much more to our beautiful world.

Nikolas A.: When you open a book and read of a character that thinks, feels, and loves the way that you do, you feel less alone. You feel more validated and confident in your identities to see a story map out your heart and soul. Kids need to feel confident in who they are from the earliest stages of development, and normalizing diversity is key to that goal.

Gwen J.: Diverse books are important for a way to walk in another's shoes, and learn about another's world and experiences. They are a chance to see things from a perspective you may never encounter, in a place you may never go, and live in a culture you may never experience. They help cultivate compassion, awareness, and understanding. Many of us find our best friends in books. They are a safe place to learn, love, and explore. We can find ourselves in books, learn more about ourselves, and find our better selves that we aspire to be, often reflected in a character we identify with. They teach us the kind of friends we want (and can be the link to finding them), good and bad ways of dealing with conflicts, and give us new things to think about in the way we view people and the world.

Mic K.: As a teacher, I’ve seen students struggling with their identities & accepting themselves. Books act as mirrors to reflect students in your classroom and windows into something new that students might not yet understand.

Matthew P.: As a teacher, I see many children who are confused about their identity or others. They don’t know how to understand it or how to ask questions. Reading a book about a character going through the same things would give them a place to run to and give them the start of a hard conversation. They may be able to better understand themselves or others around them. In this world anything that can help promote love instead of hate is a wonderful thing to give children.

Marissa A.: Diverse books matter because everyone deserves to feel accepted and loved.

Brittany G.: Inclusive books are the easiest way to foster empathy in children and adults. Humans are diverse beings with so many pieces that form an identity. All of those pieces (gender, ability, race, culture, language, family dynamics, beliefs, socioeconomics, etc) need to be represented in authentic, respectful ways for the world to move in a more peaceful era. I’m so happy that publishing companies are starting to finally be more conscious about the lack of representation of people that identify with something different than the historical status quo. 

Kelsey W.: Henry was in Kindergarten when he came home from school upset and told me “kids were saying diabetes and laughing at me.” 

We live in a small town, and kids are normally diagnosed with type-1 diabetes between ages 8-12. Henry was, quite literally, the only kid in his entire school with type-1 diabetes.

I asked Henry who was laughing at him, and it was his own FRIENDS; good, sweet kids, not bullies by any measure... 

And I told Henry that they weren’t laughing at him, that they were just laughing at the word “diabetes” because it wasn’t a word they were used to hearing. And then I sent Henry to school with a book- 

It was a Mickey Mouse book that included a character named “Coco,” and Coco had diabetes. Henry’s teacher read the book to the class, and in one simple book, diabetes became less foreign. These sweet, amazing little kids didn’t laugh at it anymore, and some of them even took on roles protecting and looking out for Henry. Parents told me their kids came home talking about diabetes and that they had conversations about it. 

That is the power of a diverse book: You change everything for one kid, and you create empathy in 100 more.