The Thursday Book Beat: Diversity Matters, Meg Rosoff
I’ll make this quick. Through a Facebook post, librarian, Edith Campbell, was happy that the self pubbed book by Myles E Johnson and Kendrick Daye, Large Fears, was starring a queer black boy.
My daughter shared this with me earlier today. I’m so glad to my children support my efforts to get more diverse books out there for our children. And, I’m really glad to know about this book! I would say there are so few books for queer black boys, but there are just too few books for all our marginalized young people.
Seems like a controversy free comment, right? Well, author Meg Rosoff decided to comment on the post.
There are not too few books for marginalised young people. There are hundreds of them, thousands of them. You don’t have to read about a queer black boy to read a book about a marginalised child. The children’s book world is getting far too literal about what “needs” to be represented. You don’t read Crime and Punishment to find out about Russian criminals. Or Alice in Wonderland to know about rabbits. Good literature expands your mind. It doesn’t have the “job” of being a mirror.
I’m not sure why she used Russian criminals or rabbits to make this point but Rosoff is wrong. Art speaks to the people consuming it but if art was catered to a specific group of people, then you’re excluding others from participating. Great lit is something that speaks to people and not to some people. Why should we expect marginalized readers to read about those who are privileged but never about themselves? You expand your mind by exposing yourself to things outside of what you know which is also why diversity matters. It reminds the privileged of their privilege. Rosoff says that “books have one job and one job only, and that is to reflect the deepest thoughts of the writer” but there are all kinds of writers with all kinds of experiences who should have the opportunities to express their views and their “deepest thoughts”.
I highly suggest reading Kaye’s open letter which expresses the importance of diversity in media. Oh, Rosoff.
Speaking of diversity, Quvenzhané Wallis will have a three book series starring a third grader named Shai Williams – a”star in the making who has a flair for the dramatic…both onstage and off.” The first book will be released in the winter of 2017 with the sequels coming on the fall of 2017 and summer of 2018. She will also pen a picture book on her life.
The clothing company founded by Ashely Eckstein will expand into publishing with the announcement of the Her Universe Press imprint. You can check out the requirements/guidelines on the site.