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Friday
Jul252014

What Do We Mean When We Talk About "Diversity" ...

…and How Can YOU Contribute to the Conversation?

It’s the current trend; everyone’s talking about diversity. You know it’s hip, since CNN has reported on it, and celebrated actors and actresses have weighed in. Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers even took it to the pages of the New York Times. From The Atlantic to NPR to School Library Journal to The Guardian, diversity and children’s literature has become the theme of the day – as well as the theme of the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference

Sure, we’ve talked. And blogged. And tweeted. But, truthfully, some of us are probably still wondering what it is we’re all talking about, when we say “diversity.” 

It’s easier to talk blogging in general terms. Do you have tips about building community and finding your tribe, about working with ebook suppliers like Edelweiss and iBook, or turning a blog post into a publishable essay? GREAT. Your content is welcome at our Con. Maybe you want to talk about finding the best of indies and self-published books, have a clever PowerPoint about the evolution of your blog, or want to share with others the best coming of age books. That’s fine, too. Are you a former blogger who now podcasts or vlogs, or can you share something about how you’ve dealt successfully with internet trolls? Wonderful! All of this varied, unique  - dare we say DIVERSE - content is what make us, as bloggers, worth reading.

Difference. Unlikeness. Variety. Multiformity. Diversity. It’s not even really easy to define terms. When one person says “diverse” another person nervously hears race, or ethnicity, or gender. But diversity in children’s lit can be – and should be – all of those things, and more. 

Human beings are clearly diverse creatures – we’re from different socioeconomic groups, different cultures, and different faiths (or none at all). We are different ages, have different physical abilities, different family structures, and differing countries and languages. Every child or young adult should be able to use literature as both a window, to see how other people live – and a mirror, to identify themselves and say, “Yep, that’s me.” Despite the number of people who insist that they “don’t see color,” and wish everyone would just stop talking about race, we understand that not only seeing but acknowledging our diversity is vital to seeing the whole person.

So, what do we mean when we talk about blogging diversity in children’s literature? 

How about you tell us?  Do you think that bloggers can affect change in regard to diversity? Do you feel that tween lit is inundated by pink covers – and that there’s really no good reading for boys? Do you podcast children’s science books and hope to let queer kids know that science rocks? Are you drawn to reading and blogging books about a specific population? Have you turned blogging about children’s books containing older adults into a publishable article, and want to share how? Do you feel uncomfortable or awkward when talking about diversity, or confident in blogging diverse books, and feel like you can help others?

It’s easy to sit in the audience and nod when people talk about diversity. It’s easy to sign up to be a part of the crowd… but it takes trusting ourselves and trusting each other to set aside our preconceptions to speak up – and be prepared to listen and learn.

We blog, because blogging gives us a voice. We blog about diversity, because we’ve all got different voices. Use yours. Sign up to join a panel or a session or to pitch an idea for this year’s KidLitCon. You can be a part of a game-changing conversation.

This article was written by Tanita Davis, KidLitCon14 co-organizer. 

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