While hoards of Young Adult fans queued for free books at Book Expo America in New York, a smaller but equally as satisfying conference quietly took place in Melbourne, Australia.
The Australian Reading Matters conference put the focus on the flowing of ideas, rather than the accumulating of free books (as satisfying as that can admittedly be). The official hashtag made plain one of the purposes of the conference; to remind us all that #YAmatters. However, inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, this year’s hashtag could almost have been #RepresentationMatters.
The questions of diversity and representation were hot topics at this year’s conference. As with the discussion of gender at the last Reading Matters, held in 2013, this year wasn’t explicitly themed around diversity, but the program and list of panelists demonstrated that this was a key consideration for organizers.
More from Reading Matters: These Broken Stars author Amie Kaufman on the power of gender-flipping characters
Throughout the conference and no matter what the panel theme, panelists returned to the idea of diversity again and again. To keep this important discourse going, we asked some of the many authors in attendance to tell us why representation in Young Adult fiction matters so much to them.
We need diverse books because…
Ambelin Kwaymullina (‘The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf’)
Amie Kaufman (‘These Broken Stars’)
Ellie Marney (‘Every Breath’)
Fiona Wood (‘Six Impossible Things’)
Laurie Halse Anderson (‘The Impossible Knife of Memory ‘)
Sally Gardner (‘The Door That Led to Where’)
Simmone Howell (‘Girl Defective’)
Tom Taylor (‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’)
Will Kostakis (‘The First Third’)
Correction: The We Need Diverse Books campaign art originally included in this article has been removed at the request of the organization.