Striving For “Diverse” Characters (And The Pitfalls)

Diversity in novels is both easy and hard. You want to include characters with different backgrounds, lifestyles, and points of view…. but at the same time, you want to resiste the stereotypes. I love this blogger’s examples, as they are definitely NOT stereotypical. And realistic!

R. J. Nello

We’ve all seen the Oscars’ debate about “diversity” in film. That led me over the last few days to thinking about books, including my own. Although not nearly as media-prominent, literature is seeing much the same discussion as film – especially children’s books:

Screen capture of the PBS web site. Screen capture of the PBS web site.

It is argued not unreasonably that children seeing characters “like themselves” is good for them. Beyond that:

….Dhonielle Clayton, vice president of We Need Diverse Books, stressed that good storytelling on a range of topics benefits all children and young adults, not just ones who belong to the communities they portray. “By having kids read cross-culturally, it really helps them have a common language of accepting and understanding,” Clayton said.

Writing for children is not my genre, of course. So I’ll leave children’s literature to children’s authors. Yet the matter is relevant in its own way for…

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I am an artist, accountant and author living in western New York, transplanted from Denmark, Michigan, Florida, West Virginia, Pennsylvania (in that order!) I love the beauty of the world and sharing it with others through jewelry, photography, digital painting and writing.

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