‘Diverse books’ is not a genre

We are asked a lot to provide ‘diverse books’. It’s one of the search terms people use to find us on Google and we use it in blogs and other information because generally, most people know what we’re talking about and we need people to find us. But if you’re here and reading this we might have actually got you here on false pretences…because ‘diverse books’ actually isn’t a genre…

Do people use dictionaries anymore? I don’t know but one definition of diverse I found is…

‘showing a great deal of variety’

So, one single book cannot possibly be a diverse book. It can demonstrate a diverse set of influences, it can have a diverse cast of characters but the definition of it is definitely not ‘diverse’.

Why ‘diverse books’?

Of course, we know why the term is used. It’s a shorthand way to help people to describe books that have characters of colour in them, it might be used to describe a book that has a character with disabilities. But with just a little examination you can probably see why, that, as a descriptor is problematic. The term diverse is describing something as other, as different, so is more often than not used from a white or able-ist viewpoint, not a universal viewpoint.

Diverse bookshelves

So, books can’t be diverse, but bookshelves definitely can and definitely should be. More on that in a bit.

We use the terms inclusive or representative and it’s why we say things like, “diverse cast of characters”. Clunky I know, but we’re just waiting until all we have to say is books. Any other terms we use are hopefully temporary and will disappear when we see more of our population fairly represented and more stories being told.

Reading for pleasure

If you ask a Primary School teacher what the best thing you can possibly do to support your child with their education, they will say read, read to them, read with them, provide them with books and make sure they have access to books they like. Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of future success in any child. There are lots of benefits described in this link.

So, we’ve established that diverse books aren’t a genre. So, that means you can get books in the genre they like and still have them reading books that feature a diverse cast of characters. Perfect.

To help you out, we’ve come up with a handy reading list of books to help you start if your child likes a certain genre of books.

Recommendations

If they like,

Graphic Novels:

Akissi, Tales of Mischief: Akissi is a mischievous girl who lives in a city in Ivory Coast, West Africa. Her escapades have kept my 6 year-old gripped for months

Hilda and the Mountain King: Features a strong girl fighting trolls and going on loads of adventures, always returning to her Mum, who’s a single parent and spends her life worrying what her daughter is getting up to. Also a brilliant Netflix series.

Comedy:

What do you do if your house is a Zoo? :Features a mixed-race family who have decided they want a pet but when they put out an advert, they are overwhelmed by ridiculous options.

The Prince, the witch, the thief and the bears: A dad and his son are making up a story together instead of reading a book. A hilarious book with two main characters of colour.

Mystery:

The clue is in the title, High Rise Mystery. This features the UK’s first black detective duo, solving mysteries and promising readers loads of suspenseful adventures.

Natural World:

Lily and the Polar Bears: sees Lily rescuing a group of polar bears whose homes have melted. As they drift into her life her and her family provide them with safe refugee. There are so many brilliant messages in this beautifully told story.

Adventure:

Suzy Orbit Astronaut needs to save the world from a meteoroid shower. A brilliant story with a main character of colour

Drama:

Company of Eight: All Cass wants to do is join the circus, but the obstacles she has to jump over to achieve her dream makes her question what she really wants. Features a lot of very strong, sword wielding women.

As usual, if you have any questions at all, please do get in touch. We are happy to recommend titles and send you off with ideas for single books, which we don’t sell. All we ask in return is that you mention us to your children’s primary school to help us get more inclusive and representative books in front of more children and that you think of us when buying gifts for friends and family members!

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