Thursday, May 5, 2016

Holy Balls! I Need More Diversity.

This post was supposed to be a list of all the great books I've read that prominently feature hispanic characters, in honor or Cinco de Mayo. I say supposed to be, because when I went to Goodreads to find all the books that fit that criteria from my read list, I came away with just 2 books. The last two years, I read 150 books each year, and yet my list of books with prominent hispanic characters stops at two. Here are my two books featuring prominent hispanic characters.

Synopsis: One of YouTube’s top beauty and fashion influencers offers her motivational manual on finding your passion, building confidence, and creating your own success story.
After emigrating from Mexico at six years old with her family, Dulce Candy Ruiz spent her formative years in a trailer park, watching her parents work in strawberry fields. After high school, Dulce joined the military as a mechanic and was soon deployed to Iraq, fixing generators in an environment that forced this bubbly girlie-girl to blend in. Tired of wearing fatigues and no makeup for weeks on end, Dulce started filming makeup tutorials and posting them to YouTube to reclaim her femininity—and have a little fun. In just a few years, Dulce has skyrocketed into superstardom with the creation of her YouTube channel, Dulce Candy—which now has more than two million subscribers—becoming one of the site’s top beauty and fashion influencers, transforming Dulce from a shy, self-doubting army specialist into a risk-taking businesswoman, confident role model, and beauty expert.
THE SWEET LIFE chronicles Dulce Candy’s inspiring story, sharing her hard-won wisdom about finding your passion, answering opportunity when it knocks on your door, and overcoming failure. She emphasizes the importance of inner and outer beauty and being true to yourself, embracing the things that make you unique and using them to live your dreams, including practical advice on building your career (“keep your role models close but your mentors closer”), staying focused when the going gets tough (“progress, not perfection”), and balancing the personal and professional (“don’t settle, settle down”).

This is a memoir and doesn't really focus on hispanic culture, but the author was an illegal immigrant (she was six when she crossed the border with her mother) who later joined the U.S. military. You can read my review here.

Synopsis: It's market day in Barra de Navidad. Izzy and Patti discover a beautiful glass dolphin that Izzy wants more than anything. Unfortunately, it disappears before she can buy it.

Even more unfortunate? It later reappears in Izzy's bag. Izzy can't believe the trouble she's in!

Pack-n-Go Girls® Take You There!
Designed by girls for girls who love to play and travel, Pack-N-Go Girls® engages the imagination of girls ages 6-9. Pack-n-Go Girls® introduces girls to different countries around the world through a series of books about Mexico, Thailand, and Austria. They’re packed with spooky mysteries, international friendships, and lots of fun and easy learning about another country. An added dimension is that the books are multicultural with characters from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Visit for FREE teaching resources, travel tips, and more.

This book is for children, but I won it through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway and knew it would be a quick read and review. You can read my review on Goodreads here.

So why is it that a person who has read 350 books since January 1st, 2014 has only read two books featuring hispanic characters in that time? I think probably the biggest reason is because I don't actively seek them out. I'm white. I can easily pick up books about people like me anywhere. But I don't actually seek out books about white people either; those are just a hell of a lot easier to come by. Another possible explanation is that I have mentally whitewashed books that were actually more diverse (I caught myself having done that once when I did a dream cast for a blog tour. I had pictured all the characters as essentially white, and they weren't.) 

But why? Why is it that I need to actively seek out more diverse books? This is easy. Because even though there are lots of diverse books out there, they are not necessarily representative of the diversity of society. And authors like Nicholas Sparks have shown the big publishers that white people almost kissing sells LOTS of books, so why diversify. Mixed couples almost kissing might not sell as well, and at the end of the day, publishers are concerned with their bottom dollar. But we need diverse books, and we need to seek out diverse books and buy diverse books to show the Big 5 that there IS a market for diverse books. 

And why is it so easy for me to mentally whitewash the diverse books I do read? This one requires a little more introspection. I think part of it is that diverse characters stand out more to me when they are more stereotypical or cliche. When those characters act like normal people (you know, because they are normal people, at least as normal as fictional people go), my mind fills in what it's familiar with, and I grew up in two small towns that were anything but diverse. And I'm fairly certain that most of the books I read growing up weren't very diverse. Maybe things would be different if the reading of my youth had featured more diversity, because then diversity would be my mental norm. Or maybe it wouldn't have made a difference at all. There's really no way to know for sure. 

But all of this is why we need diverse books. All of this is why I need diverse books. So hit me up with your recommendations. I'm particularly interested in diverse books for children, because I want a more diverse norm for my kids than I had. - Katie 

1 comment:

  1. The only diverse books I seek out are the M/M ones. Cause I'm a big horn dog. I feel you on this.