TRENDING NOW: Diversity In YA Books | Thursday Ramblings

Trend Alert: Diversity in Young Adult Fiction!

Hello bookworms and welcome back to Thursday Ramblings, a weekly feature here at Josie’s Book Corner!

Thursday Ramblings is a casual feature/meme here on Josie’s Book Corner where I pick a topic and discuss it with you. This is a casual post, filled with rambling and chatting! So basically, we are simply having a conversation about the topic at hand! 

Yesterday I had a strange thought… I randomly thought: What if we are overdoing the new trend of diversity that’s beginning to make itself a trend in books today?” Personally, I am loving that authors and publishers alike are realizing that we need books that cater towards and include all the different types of people in our world.
And at the same time, I love how adding diversity to books helps us to realize and learn some of the issues plaguing our society today. But of course, while books are branching out with sexuality, culture and ethnicity diversity, I feel there are still parts of the world that are still being excluded from our beloved books. 

So let’s discuss, shall we?


What are the kids bookworms these days screaming? WE WANT DIVERSE BOOKS. That’s what they’re screaming. And I’m definitely one of them. The time is over for white, perfect-looking, straight characters and (in our best Gough Whitlam spirit) it’s time for a new band of characters to grace the pages of our books. Characters who are ethnically and culturally diverse (e.g. characters who are not all white), characters who are sexually diverse (e.g. bisexual, gender queer, lesbian, etc.) and characters who are not perfect and flawless (mentally flawed, physically flawed, such as those with disabilities or illnesses)And thank God, we are definitely getting the diversity we crave. It seemed like only at the beginning of this year, we were screaming for it and now, it’s coming to us in waves. It’s incredible! 

Sexual Diversity

Already we’ve got books starring gay characters such as Simon vs The Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli, lesbian, genderqueer and transgender characters such as What We Left Behind by Robin Talley. I’ve only mentioned two, but gosh, there’s so many books! There’s even an entire Goodreads list on the best YA fiction featuring LGBTQ+ themes and characters! 

I really cheer for authors featuring sexually diverse characters because it’s such a big issue in our society today. People all over the world are still fighting for gay marriage to become legal and there is still a bad stigma put upon those who are simply not straight. By including protagonists who are gay, lesbian, transgender, gender queer or other, it’s really helping to normalize the subject. We need to start accepting all people of all sexualities and by including them in books, we are one step to making these people part of our world instead of feeling alienated or separated from our society. 

Cultural/Ethnic Diversity

Equally, there is a rise in characters of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Although this may have been happening a bit earlier than the addition of sexually diverse characters in books, young adult fiction has been experiencing an influx in ethnically diverse characters. With books such as The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and more. Once again, there is an entire Goodreads list on the best YA books with diversity.

More books are introducing characters who are not from white countries, which I am loving. Not only because I crave to know more about all the cultures in our world, but it means books are spreading out and becoming an all-encompassing, accepting form of media that is starting to include more (and hopefully ALL) of the cultures that exist in our world.  

Other Forms of Diversity

One of the things we bookworms complain about is characters that are perfect and without any flaws whatsoever. Like, how dare you bring us perfect characters! Haven’t we seen enough of these beautiful specimens that we couldn’t even dream of matching up to, in magazines and television? Authors, please. But thank goodness we’re starting to receive more flawed characters. Flawed both physically and mentally. 

Books covering mental illness and protagonists with mental illnesses much more, especially this year. With books such as Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella and Made You Up by Francesca Zappia are some of the many that cover mental illnesses such as anxiety and schizophrenia. I personally love books that tackle characters and protagonists with mental illness because, mental illness is one of the biggest problems that face our society today. Just look up the stats. Books need to reflect these parts of our society and more. As much as we love our prospective novels (e.g. dystopians), we need to see more books that reflect problems and issues in our world today. Mental illness is a big one and thank you authors for seeing it and using it in your novels!

Additionally, we are slowly starting to see more physically diverse characters. Honestly I’m sick of seeing the skinny, perfect skinned flawless females and the well built, gorgeous males (okay no, please don’t take away my gorgeous men, oh gosh I’m so shallow. Just let me keep Rowan. And Aedion. And all the other gorgeous Fae men.)

But seriously. We see enough of these gorgeous people all over our other forms of media. In magazines, in televison and even on the internet! (I spend way too much time scrolling through Instagram accounts of gorgeous girls and boys alike, I know what I’m talking about!) And we definitely don’t need this reciprocated into our beautiful pages. Or at least, we need to challenge this assumption and promotion of skinny, tanned girls and muscled, tanned men. With books such as Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove by James Moloney, we’re given characters who are larger than what we see in the media. And we need this! I LOVE that books are slowly bringing this in an incorporating it. We need to include all those who do not fit in to the media’s expectation of beauty. 

But here comes the small question in the back of my head: Are we overdoing the idea of diversity in books

My answer? Heck no! All of these things need to be accepted as normal parts of our world and need to be further accepted as normal to portray in media and entertainment. I hate that media and entertainment end up excluding and even alienating certain people in society because they only focus and promote one certain representation of beauty or normality. This needs to change and it can start with books. IN FACT, IT’S ALREADY  BEGUN. YAY! 

What do you think? Is there enough, not enough or too much diversity in our books today?

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41 thoughts on “TRENDING NOW: Diversity In YA Books | Thursday Ramblings

  1. Such a fantastic indepth discussion Josie! I just linked it in my sunday post! I think more than ever, diversity in books is so important. It’s becoming so relevant now to raise awareness of so many mental health issues, differences in sexual orientation and cultural and subculture diversity. I do think we have a ways to go until it becomes the norm, but until then, we’re off to a great start!

    Liked by 1 person

    • JEANN, THANK YOU AGAIN! You are so sweet!
      It really is relevant now. I think it’s one of the most pressing things in our society today!
      Yes, despite being far off, we’ve kicked it off strong!

      Thank you for stopping by and bringing sunshine my way with your lovely comments!

      Like

  2. Great post Josie! You’re right; diversity is so important and it’s just ridiculous how people can think an all-white straight skinny cast without any disabilities is realistic. Are we living in a different world? 😛
    Also loved how serious this post was until gorgeous men were mentioned haha (we can keep the gorgeous men though, just add a few ones that are less gorgeous and more realistic! Problem solved haha)

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Omg Josie, I was scared for a moment when I read your question at the beginning: Are we overdoing diversity? And then I read your answer at the bottom of NO and I’m like “GO GIRL YOU TELL’EM!”
    I’m totally agreeing with Aentee’s above comment on adding more diversity to fantasy. You know how many times I imagine a girl with bipolar disorder saving the day, or a party of people of color going on an adventure, or two boys who were destined to go against each other save the magic in the world and fall in love? (The last one was reference to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell ❤ )

    Great discussion, and the books you included are all awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I love giving that sense of suspense and fright to my readers. 😉
      Oh. My. Gosh. Yes we need a bipolar protagonist, ASAP. And yes yes yes to everything you said!
      Ahhhh, I need to read Carry On soon 😭

      Like

  8. Love this post, Josie! I wish for the day when diversity stops becoming a genre or descriptor unto itself -and all books just featured the reality of life: with mixed race and gender identity and all kinds of love and bodies. I also hope that more diversity will spread through the fantasy fiction world! I feel like most diverse books are contemporary reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes yes! I’m so excited for that day to come too! When we don’t have to point out an authors inclusion of a “black character” or a “gay character”.
      I really want to see diversity in fantasy, we shall throw a party when that becomes a thing! 💃

      Like

  9. Love this post! ❤ We definitely need more diverse books and I am so glad that I have been able to read so many great ones this year. I am really excited to read so many others and to see what else gets put out!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this discussion post, once again! And yes to more diverse books. I’m really glad to see that it’s becoming such a big deal, because there need to be all kinds of people in stories, like there are in live, no matter what their religions, origins, sexual orientation, mental or physical issues… are! I find that really great and it really makes books more interesting to read.
    However, I really think that, even if it’s important to maintain diversity, I think it’s up to the authors to write what they want to write, whatever the message they want to give us is. Whether it’s with diverse characters, or not so much 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the topic, Marie! 😊 Diversity definitely makes a book interesting and captures your attention.
      It’s definitely a key that authors should write what they want and what they feel. No author should be forced to add in a different cultured protagonist or such just because it’s “the trend” today.
      xoxo 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think we are only scratching the surface right now. There will never be enough diversity in books if we keep getting books centered around perfect white characters and their beautiful white friends.
    Instead of a book about a white assassin, how about centering the book around her black warrior princess friend? Instead of a kingdom full of beautiful white royals, how about we get a story about their neighboring country of ethnic royals? Those are just some examples… and I still love the books don’t get me wrong!

    But that’s the main problem still. There’s a lot more to be done, and I know we’ll get there soon!

    Great discussion post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely. We are no where near where we should be with diversity, but we will get there!
      You’re so totally right! I’d love to see one of those conventional assassin novels switched around to other ethnic cultured people! How exciting.

      I’m glad you liked it Jesse! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. We need more diverse books! Keep them coming! I love that there’s so much emphasis on diversity in YA now and they’re some of my favourite books to read. I especially love books that aren’t about diversity/diverse issues but just include diverse main characters. Hopefully one day we can get to a point where they become so normalised that we don’t even need to call them ‘diverse’ books anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Even though we’ve seen great progress made over the past year, we still definitely don’t have enough diversity in books. And to be honest, I don’t think we can over do it because the world is an incredibly rich, diverse place and in more ways than one. I think there’s still a lot of ground to cover and fingers crossed we’ll start to see more being represented soon. I’d especially love to see OzYA hurry up and get it together. It’s really disappointing considering that lack of diversity and I especially hope that changes soon. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so right. And especially because most authors are from certain backgrounds (usually white, middle-class backgrounds) it’s going to be hard to really include all kinds of diversity into our books. Maybe with time, we’ll find that soon all out books will be full of variation!
      Thank you and I am glad you enjoyed it Rebecca!

      Like

  14. Lovely chat! Diversity in books is so crucial now. The world is changing, which means we have to change with it. Part of life is accepting what you don’t like and I love how authors are writing what is reflecting the world now. It’s important that we learn to appreciate each other and look at each other for what we are without an averse response. Thank you for addressing such an important topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re spot on! We need to bring that acceptance of all people into our books. We need that inclusion of everyone in books! Because it’s so important especially now. Thank you for your lovely comment Veda! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I love that people are talking about diversity in YA. I have a disorder and I am yet to find a YA novel with a character in it with my condition. But I know that there probably is one, I’m just not looking hard enough. I know reading books about LGBT, people of colour, people with mental and physical disabilities and of different religions really opens up my eyes to notice what is going on with other people other than myself. As an Indian female with a disability I know bits and pieces of different religions, races, disorders but there is so much more I still have to learn and I think with diversity in YA becoming more and more common it’ll not only inform me on other peoples situations but others as well

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes it’s great isn’t it? Would it be prying if I ask what kind of disorder you have? I’m curious!
      I totally know what you mean. I still have a much more to see and learn of diversity in books, I don’t think I’ve read enough yet and I definitely don’t think I’ve found them all! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

      • It definitely is. I have Narcolepsy, it’s a sleep disorder it causes people to sleep way to much and get sleep attacks where I could fall asleep randomly at any given time, also it sucks because I can sleep for over 12 hours and still be really sleepy.
        I haven’t read a lot, but I don’t know if I’ve read a diverse book and not realised it was, if you know what I mean.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree that it’s definitely not overdone! If I’m asked to give a couple of titles with diverse characters, I can name one or two immediately. And that’s it. Then I need to research further or someone needs to kick-start my brain so I can go “Oh yeah, I forgot about that!”
    What I’m trying to say is that the public’s awareness of diversity has begun. Awareness is important in any campaign, but it’s just the beginning. We need a more radical movement to change they way people treat and look at each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! We are only say the beginning stage of our awareness of diversity but I love that its been like an explosion type of movement so far in fiction. And what I love even more is that we are all feverishly promoting it as being a good thing. We bookworms are a huge influence when it comes to the content of books, and we need to continue screaming for it! Maybe we can all start a more big, tactics movement for diversity!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks for this great topic Josie! The subject of diversity has been on my mind for a while and I am glad to be able to talk about it with everyone here.
    I think that the insufficiency of diversity in books is indicative of a broader issue represented by the lack of education, availability and acceptance in and towards non-diverse areas of life. If a young gay kid is mocked in school and driven out by his insecurities, he won’t receive the education he needs and won’t grow up to write something as diverse as he is. A black Muslim girl taught to hide her differences wont feel as open to share them in writing when we need her too. I think that the attitude of our culture needs to change before we can see a true influx of diverse writing. Instead of making established authors feel bad about writing what they know, we should help bring in new authors who know different things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome Alicia, I’m glad I’m able to bring forth this discussion with you! It’s much needed!

      You’re so right. It’s horrible the discrimination some people, especially young children of different diversities get mocked or alienated or treated differently from the rest of society. It needs to change and a really great way to bring more education and acceptance to our generation and the next generations to come is through writing. If only it could gain momentum that quickly in the rest of out entertainment and media.

      Thank you for such an insightful and spot on comment! I love it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow, if it wasn’t already apparent, you really, really, really know your books.

    Agreed–let’s turn the status quo on its ear with lots of underrepresented characters. Though this is changing, i think heavyset heroes are still pretty underrepresented in fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Diverse books are coming in waves and it’s fine. But I think that overdoing it will make it become a trend and eventually authors will be forced to write diverse characters. I’m okay with the idea but I think authors should write the characters they want to write whether they are the normal stereotype or diverse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great perspective! A small part of me definitely thinks that we might be making diversity a trend which will catch unnecessary attention by authors and I hate the idea that the trend would force them to add diverse characters.
      But what I love about the fact that it’s becoming a trend is that it’s normalizing all the parts of our society and helping to accept all kinds of people as worthy of being written in books!

      Thank you for your comment Melanie, I love it!

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Really enjoyed reading this Josie! I think that books need to reflect the community in which they are written, rather than making the characters all white just because that is what the author wants to do (unless the author is writing about a predominantly white community). I live in a very diverse area, which diversity including race, religion, and sexuality. If I were to write about this area, I need to capture the spirit of the community. I think it is also important to recognize the small differences between characters. Understand what each character has experienced in their life. Even though I am a white female in America, I still have a diverse background from my peers that gives me a character that someone else may not have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you agree!
      OH MY GOSH I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT RELIGION. *hides in shame*
      Yes, books really need to capture this! Because our world is not made up of gorgeous people and white, straight people who believe in one religion (or none at all).

      Authors really need to do that too, show all the differences between characters a little more. I need to see more characters with different personalities and experiences and lives because I also want to experience more of the things people who are NOT me, experience.

      Thank you for your wonderful comment Sydney! I really appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • As a person of faith myself, I would love to see a better representation of religion in all novels. In your defense, it makes sense that you never mentioned it because it never gets mentioned in hardly any fiction, especially YA fiction. Religion is generally the most defining piece of a person’s life and so it is unusual that there are never people of faith in novels.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Another interesting point to bring up is YA fiction vs literary/adult fiction. Is the problem in YA specifically or more widespread?

        Liked by 1 person

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