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Diversity in Young Adult Literature: Getting Started


Diverse = A book about a main character who is of color, disabled, and/or LGBTQ; or a book written by an author who is of color, disabled, and/or LGBTQ.

Diverse = Set in a non-Western world or inspired by a non-Western world

Defining Race/Ethnicity of Characters

One model (please note this is one definition it may not be universal)

  • White – Characters with European origins 
  • Asian – Characters with Asian origins including members of the Asian Diaspora and South Asians
  • Black – Characters with African origins including African Americans
  • Latino – Hispanic and Latino Americans; characters from Latin America 
  • Mixed Race – Characters of mixed race backgrounds
  • Indigenous – Including American Indians and Indigenous peoples from around the world
  • Middle Eastern – Characters from the Middle East, e.g., Iran
  • SF/F of color – Characters from a secondary or futuristic science fiction or fantasy world who have a race that does not precisely match our contemporary U.S. understandings, but which is situated as being nonwhite in that secondary or futuristic world

American Indians in Children's Literature

Disability in Kid Lit.

Social Justice and Children's Literature

Authors speak


Analysis of the most banned/challenged books in the U.S. shows that diverse books are disproportionately targeted for book challenges and censorship.



“Nearly 90% of the books reviewed by The New York Times are written by white writers. That is not even remotely reflective of the racial makeup of this country, where 72% of the population, according to the 2010 census, is white.”

(Roxanne Gay, writer for "The Rumpus" 2012)

Studies have shown that reading fiction leads to increased empathy, which suggests that it is more important than ever to make sure books with diverse perspectives are widely available. 

Rainbow book list“a bibliography of books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender content, and which are aimed at youth, birth through age 18.”

Library Media Specialist

Nancy Green's picture
Nancy Green
Timberlane Regional High School
36 Greenough Road
Plaistow, New Hampshire 03865


  • Non-White main and/or secondary characters
  • LGBTQ main and/or secondary characters
  • Disabled main and/or secondary characters
  • Issues about race or racism
  • LGBTQ issues
  • Issues about religion, which encompass in this situation the Holocaust and terrorism
  • Issues about disability and/or mental illness
  • Non-Western settings, in which the West is North America and Europe