Why are diverse young adult books important?
Often students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ students, female students, and everyone who has intersecting identities within those groups, are not represented in the books that they are assigned in classes or offered at their school libraries. Finding stories that talk about what it truly feels like to be a person with disabilities, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, or a person within any number of different cultural communities, can be really hard, and also really magical in ways not usually represented in mainstream books and media. So many of the books assigned in so many of the schools across America are centered around white, straight, cisgendered people without disabilities. This is why it is so important to have diverse young adult books included within schools, libraries, classrooms, and curriculums! Teens need to see that there are books that talk about what it is like to live life like they do! They need to be able to see books that talk about what it is like to live a different life from the one that they lead.
When there is more representation in school libraries, classrooms, and curriculum, teens can see books with people who look like them on the covers. They can see books with people like their friends on the covers. They can see that their identity is valued by their school and that they are important enough to have books that tell stories like theirs. When teens are exposed to books about everybody, then they are able to imagine lives bigger than the small boxes that stereotypes put us all in. They can see themselves as scientists or doctors or inventors of new technology or as famous artists. They can see themselves as whoever they want to become!