Right now on Twitter something pretty amazing is happening.

Writers, book bloggers, librarians, and everyday readers are coming together to highlight the importance of diversity in middle grade and young adult fiction. Minority representation in the industry has been getting better in more recent years but there is still a lot of work to be done. Kids deserve heroes who look like them, who act like them, and who believe like them. Too often, though, diversity is sacrificed in the name of marketability. Book conventions and industry events ignore the issue and don’t address the lack of minority authors. Publishers are still hesitant to take the plunge and far too often minority characters are pushed into secondary and tertiary roles – if they are included at all!

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign hopes to change that.

They’ve got a three day play running from May 1st to May 3rd to get the word out and support minority authors and books with diverse characters. Headed up by a fantastic group of people, they are hoping to flood Twitter feeds and Tumblr dashboards with posts explaining why the industry needs to embrace more diverse heroes and suggestions on how to make things better. Then, on the 3rd day, they hope to support those who are leading the charge in the industry by encouraging people to go out and buy diverse books. While the campaign really kicks into full gear in a few days the conversation has already started.

And the response has been incredible.

Folks on Twitter are posting up a storm and amazing comments are being posted regularly over on the campaign’s Tumblr. Diversity is an issue that people feel strongly about but so often feel like they aren’t in a position to change. The great thing about this grassroots campaign is that people are showing publishers just how much this matters by reaching out as a community.

I’m ridiculously happy about this effort. Diversity is important to me. I grew up on army bases which are extremely diverse places and growing up I never had any heroes or heroines in books to look up to who were disabled like me. I’ve been hearing impaired most of life and it wasn’t until The Collection – a horror film sequel – came out in 2012 that I ever once saw myself reflected in pop culture. I was twenty-four when that movie came out. As a kid I latched on to any book I could find about kids with disabilities and you know what? There aren’t a whole lot of them.

I deserved better. My friends deserved better. And kids today definitely deserve better.

Because kids aren’t all the same. They come from different backgrounds and circumstances. They have different interests and challenges. And they deserve to know that they can all be heroes – regardless of background, race, religion, sexuality, interest, or ability.

There’s no excuse for denying that any longer.

Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and be the change we need in the middle grade and young adult book industry.  The details can all be found here on the campaign Tumblr. Spread the word!

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