Thanks to movements such as We Need Diverse Books, #1000BlackGirlBooks, and vocal authors, writers, and readers, the conversation regarding diversity in children’s books has gained more traction. Studies such as the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s Publishing Statistics on Children’s Books and our Diversity Baseline Survey have helped to supplement these conversations, highlighting the need for more representation in children’s literature. We’re starting to see more stories that represent people from different backgrounds and different ways of life, and stories with protagonists and heroes that finally look like us. Here at LEE & LOW BOOKS, our mission is to publish children’s books about everyone and for everyone. So today, LEE & LOW staff share the impact and importance of diversity and what diversity truly means to them.
Diversity is very important to me, mainly because inclusiveness is still a major hurdle in society. If the default were diversity instead of white, so many systemic problems would cease to exist and we could shift our attention to tackling bigger issues. An acknowledgment of how our lack of diversity impacts community, government, and the economy is the first step to addressing an affliction that truly holds us back.
Louise May, Vice President/Editorial Director
On a personal level, diversity to me means that we all interact as humans and take pride in our similarities and differences, whether they be along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, ability, religion, or anything else. It means learning from others, having respect for and a healthy curiosity about others and the willingness to listen and learn from their experiences and points of view. It sometimes means going outside my comfort zone and being open to accepting what comes. The world is a fascinating, enriching place if you are willing to challenge yourself to listen, share, learn, and embrace that which is not like you.
Hsu Hnin, Operations Assistant
I would like to say it using my scientific knowledge; diversity is an advantage of our human species. The more diverse a species, the longer it will survive and evolve in the universe. Even mother nature loves diversity!
For me personally, diversity means a coming together of different cultures, backgrounds and experiences, whether it’s a city, a company, or even a fictional story. Ideally, everyone will be accepting of others’ differences, or at least try to understand these differences, although that’s not always the case. Diversity is what keeps things vibrant and I think it’s something that everyone should strive to incorporate into their life. Working at LEE & LOW, we always emphasize that we publish “diverse stories that are about everyone and for everyone,” and it’s true. Our books feature characters from all different backgrounds and people tell us all the time that they’re so happy to see someone who looks like them or is going through the same experiences; similarly, we also have readers who tell us that it’s been eye-opening to read about someone whose culture is different than their own.
Hannah Ehrlich, Director of Marketing & Publicity
Diversity may have become an overused word, but to me diversity just means reality. It is who we really are as a country. I think diversity includes many different identities: racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation. Our population contains variation in all these categories, and a diverse environment reflects that accurately and doesn’t hide, overlook, or exclude anyone based on those identities. I recently read an article by Marlon James where he said that diversity is “an outcome treated as a goal” and that seems right to me. Diversity is just a natural outcome when we work to remove the filters and systems that keep certain people out. Diversity alone will not stamp out racism, or sexism, or anything else. But it can be a natural outcome when we work to fix those things, within ourselves and in our environments.
Jalissa Corrie, Marketing & Publicity Assistant
Diversity has been (and still is at times) treated like some type of trend that will come and go, as if people’s very existence is a fad that will eventually disappear. What I hope others realize is that diversity is not a trend or some type of agenda, but that diversity is just the way the world simply is.
Stacy Whitman, Publisher, Tu Books
To me, diversity means inclusiveness—it means letting everyone know they are welcome and allowing everyone a voice.
Kandace Coston, Editorial Assistant
To me, diversity means that I can go to my local library and be just as likely to find a character that looks like me on the cover of a futuristic sci-fi novel as I am to find one on the cover of a Civil Rights Movement biography.
Share with us! What does diversity mean to you?