Diversity in Young Adult Literature Public Deposited
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The issue of diversity in literature is one of the utmost importance. However, it is only after recent developments that publishers and consumers are seeking fair representation in their books. The focus on diversity is a product of social equity -- or rather, a lack thereof -- around the world. Unjust practices against marginalized groups are not new but the hyper-awareness of these atrocities are. Social media platforms and other digital spaces allow people to post, share, and interact with other people they may not otherwise. In 2015, NCTE (The National Council of Teachers in English) called for the immediate expansion of diversity in children and young adult literature. The resolution followed an assessment of the Cooperative Children's Book Center and their 2014 statistics on diversity in literature: "The absence of human, cultural, linguistic, and family diversity in children's and young adult literature attests to the growing disparity and inequity in the publishing history in the United States... Lived experiences across human cultures including realities about appearance, behavior, economic circumstance, gender, national origin, social class, spiritual belief, weight, life, and thought matter," (NCTE, 2015). Despite the call to action, there are still less than 4,000 books by or about people of color on the market (Cooperative Children's Book Center, 2020). From the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2021, a series of surveys and interviews were conducted to measure the difference in character representation in Young Adult literature and how the formation of such characters impact readers when they are young. The surveys allowed the researcher to determine how frequently participants read as children, their favorite books, the types of books they read, what components of character relation resonate with the subjects the most, and what criteria must be considered for a novel and its protagonist to be considered "good." The results of the study demonstrated that YA fiction is based on predominantly white and heterosexual protagonists. There were moderate correlations between ethnicity and reading habits, the shared experiences of readers and their protagonists, and varying differences between older and young participants. The study concluded that there has been a significant development in diversification in young adult literature during the past ten years.
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