We Need Diverse Books!

Image created by:  Icey Design
Image created by: Icey Design

The past couple days, I have had the immense pleasure of helping organize #WeNeedDiverseBooks with some amazing people – (You may have seen me tweeting already from my @Latinaish account as well as my personal @TracyDeLopez account.) The campaign is described in detail below, but it is basically a call for more diversity in books – something many of us have been talking about for a long time. I remember when Latinas for Latino Lit launched with this same mission, and through that I had the opportunity to express my views on the topic, as well as host authors René Colato Laínez and Meg Medina here on my blog. So I am really excited to see so many people coming together, from la comunidad Latina and beyond – to hopefully bring about some real change in the publishing industry. I hope you’ll join us! – Tracy López

A Joint Message From The Organizers of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, And Details On How You Can Get Involved:

Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.

Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:

May 1st at 1pm (EST) – There will be a public call for action that will spread over 3 days. We’re starting with a visual social media campaign using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. [People are already using it, so join us!] We want people to use Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and post anywhere they can to help make the hashtag go viral.

You can also support #WeNeedDiverseBooks by taking a photo holding a sign that says:

“We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.

The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs. However you want to do it, we want to share it! We will host all the photos at WeNeedDiverseBooks.Tumblr, so please submit your photos by May 1st to weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.

At 1:00PM EST the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.

The intent is that from 1pm EST to 3pm EST, there will be a non-stop hashtag party to spread the word. We hope that we’ll get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.

The Tumblr will continue to be active throughout the length of the campaign, and for however long we need to keep this discussion going, so we welcome everyone to keep emailing or sending in submissions even after May 1st.

May 2nd – The second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm EST using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

May 3rd – At 2pm EST, the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them. Diversify Your Shelves is all about actively seeking out diverse literature in bookstores and libraries, and there will be some fantastic giveaways for people who participate in the campaign! (More details and giveaway entry HERE!)

We hope that you will take part in this in any way you can. We need to spread the word far and wide so that it will trend on Twitter. So that media outlets will pick it up as a news item. So that the organizers of BEA and every big conference and festival out there gets the message that diversity is important to everyone. We hope you will help us by being a part of this movement.


  1. One of the first books we were taught to read when I was in kindergarten was Tikki Tikki Tembo. In fact, I still remember about Tikki Tikki Tembo who fell down the well and his brother Chang nearly 20 years later. That book is by a Japanese woman about two Chinese children. I don’t think it gets any more diverse than that. There are many children’s books that are diverse. The Little Bill books are about a black family. Diversity is pretty mainstream. In fact, people are becoming quite oversensitive to race now. Latino children are portrayed in television now, with Dora and Diego, and I have seen plenty of books available for children featuring children of all races. Besides, younger kids tend to be oblivious to race. The point of books is to teach them to read, and to deliver a moral to the story, a lesson young kids should learn, and it really doesn’t matter if the characters of the book are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, or Lakota Sioux, the kids usually don’t notice that factor anyway.

    • Wow, much bravery to comment under anonymous. Please, next time, get your facts right. Tikki Tikki Tembo was not written by a Japanese woman. She was right. The entire story has been proven to be racist. There are never enough books for children, and yes, children do notice what they are reading. I hope you don’t have kids of your own you are misinforming.

    • Hi Anonymous – As a parent and a former pre-school volunteer, I have to say that it isn’t my experience at all that “kids usually don’t notice.” Kids notice EVERYTHING, whether they verbalize it or not, and are often more perceptive than adults. I spent most of my time creating a reading program for the children in the pre-school class, a large number of whom were Latino/a, and many whose parents didn’t speak/read English – So we made extra sure to provide books in Spanish for these children so the parents could read to them. When the characters in those Spanish-language and bilingual books reflected their family and a home life that felt familiar to them, they often told me very eagerly all about it, interrupting me in the middle of stories when I read to them one-on-one. Believe me, they notice.

      As for Tikki Tikki Tembo – It was not, in fact, written by a Japanese woman, and the story itself is completely inaccurate. You can read more about that here: http://www.gracelinblog.com/2012/04/rethinking-tikki-tikki-tembo.html

      I’m glad you mentioned Tikki Tikki Tembo, because it’s actually an excellent example of what can go wrong when people aren’t allowed to speak for themselves by telling their own stories… That’s why #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

  2. Hello, I shot you a tweet asking if it was alright to reblog this on our blog to publish tomorrow morning CST to help spread the word! We are all for having all people represented in books!

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