In 2014, following the announcement of a panel of all-white, all-male children’s authors at BookCon, countless authors and publishing insiders took to Twitter. Using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks, they discussed and protested against the outstanding lack of diversity and diverse representation in YA and MG literature.
As the online discussion grew and the hashtag continued to trend, a core group of individuals — including authors Ellen Oh (The Dragon King Chronicles) and Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles) — banded together to formally create We Need Diverse Books in the US to continue to push the discussion and movement.
Now a non-profit and grassroots organisation, We Need Diverse Books advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honours the lives of all young people. Their mission statement? Putting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children. Their vision? A world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.
We Need Diverse Books features internship programmes in the US, bringing people to New York — the publishing hub of the US — to live with a stipend as they help them find jobs in the publishing industry (Angie Thomas, best-selling author of ‘The Hate U Give’, was the first recipient). They have mentorship programmes that pair new, marginalised writers with those with experience. The organisation also buys and distributes diverse books to schools. There’s no questioning the importance of the life-changing work We Need Diverse books has done and continues to do.
Since 2014, We Need Diverse Books has wracked up an impressive social media following of over 130,000. Now, they’re hoping to bring this brilliant and important movement to the UK. Hosting an event in London on July 29, Dhonielle Clayton sat down with editor and #BAMEinPublishing creator, Sarah Shaffi, and co-founder of children’s publisher Knights Of, Aimée Felone, to discuss how We Need Diverse Books operates and their plans for its future in both the UK and US.
If you weren’t able to make it to the Brixton event, the Knights Of twitter page live-tweeted the event, giving us an insight into what was discussed and what’s to come with We Need Diverse Books UK.
— Knights Of (@_KnightsOf) July 29, 2019
Make sure to follow @DiverseBooksUK for all updates on the UK branch of this incredible movement.