20 Jul

In 2015, Corinne Duyvis suggested on Twitter, “Glad important discussions are being had. Would love to be able to walk away with book recommendations. How about a hashtag? , to recommend kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group.”

This was the beginning of a new hashtag that has become quite popular in promoting not only diverse books, but as Corinne suggested choosing diverse books written by diverse authors. And if you’re looking for more information about the hashtag, check our Corinne’s website and her views on #ownvoices.

We are continually promoting diverse books, but there’s something to be said about an author who writes with the experience of their characters that creates an even more authentic voice. Does that mean authors can never write about characters that are different from themselves? Definitely not, but research needs to be extensive and having readers or mentors look at a manuscript with a different eye, is important.

For example, my parents work with people with disabilities and growing up, this was very much my life. I tend to know more and see more injustice for this marginalized group of people than most, because of my background. But, that doesn’t mean that I’ve lived anyone else’s experience or should assume that I can provide a true, realistic voice to a character with a disability. It’s the subtlety of every day life that I personally have never experienced. That being said, I think it’s important to create stories that are as diverse as the world we live in and with research it’s possible to write a character an author personally is not anything like.

Check out this great article written by Kayla Whaley on Brightly about her own experience as a author with a disability and how that has influenced her own writing. I think it’s so important as a white, female librarian to keep this in the forefront of my mind as I suggest titles for my very diverse community. I’m thinking about how I can incorporate this even more into the work I do – not only one-on-one with patrons, but by creating booklists and book displays to promote #ownvoices authors and book titles.

If you’re working on something in your library or at home, let me know what you’re doing, I’m always looking for new ideas!


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