Seattle bookstores tackle the lack of diversity in literature

(Photo from Pixabay and republished under a Creative Commons CC0 license)

Ever since I was young, I have loved the written word — no surprise, considering what I do for a living.

But before deciding to be a writer when I grew up, I was an avid reader. Now I consider myslef a lifelong bookworm. I’ve read and enjoyed most genres: fantasy, general fiction, romance, mystery and the occasional sci-fi.

But as much as I enjoyed all of these books, there was something missing from my storied career as a bookworm: characters who looked like me.

It wasn’t that these characters didn’t exist, it was more that Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) and other characters of color were often relegated to minor characters. In many cases, they were portrayed as mostly one-dimensional, perpetuating stereotypes.

Challenging the lack of diversity in children’s books

And for someone like Lynnwood resident Susan Harewood, reading about characters who are supposed to represent her as simplified stereotypes can be annoying — especially when reading is an escape.

So to avoid getting too annoyed, Harewood often gravitates toward children’s fiction, specifically little boys’ fiction for the 7-11 age range.

Harewood, an immigrant from Barbados, said so little of a bookstore is directed toward her that she goes for books that are as far away from herself as possible, adding that she prefers literature geared toward boys because she finds girls’ stories too “proto-romantic,” meaning characters tend to focus on boys and romantic relationships.

In contrast, “the boys are doing stuff,” she said.

And if the girls were “doing stuff” in books, Reagan Jackson found it was usually the white girls. keep reading 


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