#WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel @ BookCon


There isn’t really a lot I can add to all the write-ups this panel has had:

Publisher’s Weekly, SLJ, Emily PanShelf Awareness and NPR’s Morning Edition (just to name a few) You can listen to the FULL unedited audio of the panel HERE or read the transcript HERE

The room wasn’t big enough, I turned up 20 minutes before the start thinking I was much too early and it was already half full. Fortunately there was a single seat in the second row with I snagged on the double quick but it wasn’t long after that that all the chairs were gone.

Caroline (Big Book Little Book) couldn’t get in, she texted me to say that there was a group outside the door being turned away 😦 People sat on the floor, stood at the back…

This panel wasn’t even on the list until a week before BookCon so what does that tell you? #WeNeedDiverseBooks that’s what.

I didn’t attend a lot of panels during BEA/BookCon, mostly they weren’t for me but I would have gone to this one even without the Marieke bonus. (I’ll be explaining that in a moment.) Because you can listen to the audio yourself (which I really think you should) I won’t go into the content of the panel.

I want to talk about the feeling in the room. I haven’t sat in such a pleasant, happy and supportive atmosphere for ages. I came out of there thinking how brilliant people are.

Marieke Nijkamp

So if you read my Top Ten Things to do in New York prior to BEA trip you will have seen the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel on there along with a picture of Marieke. Who probably right now wants to throw something at me but she’s my best friend and I’m really proud of her so I get to brag now and she can’t do anything about it. Ha! Maybe I should give her a cupcake…

I did resist showering her with glitter at BookCon mainly because I thought the organizers might kick me out.

Marieke was the second speaker during the panel and I did manage to film it, so you can watch her be brilliant. Well if you ignore my appalling filming skills, the off-sync audio and that I missed the beginning of her speech.*

Thankfully the #WeNeedDiverseBooks has a full transcript of the panel.


You may ask yourself why we need diverse books. Simply, because representation matters. As Aisha already mentioned, the make-up of our stories does not at all reflect the make-up of our society.

If we look at all the children born in the US in 2014, more than half of them will be non-white. Out of the books published in 2013, less than ten percent were about characters of color or were written by people of color.

About ten percent of children born in the US will identify as LGBTQ. In 2013, less than three percent of YA books featured LGBTQ main characters or LGBTQ issues.

One out of three children will be affected by mental illness, with one out of five teens suffering from a serious debilitating mental illness during their teenage years. Furthermore, one out of five will be disabled. And, again in 2013, somewhere between five and ten percent of YA books featured characters with disabilities or mental illnesses…



Working at the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Booth after the panel

Marieke will be visiting my blog on the 23 June for an interview,
make sure to come back for that….


*I rather epically failed on this didn’t I?

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