Hello, friends! This will be my second discussion post ever! Yay!!! I have so many things I want to talk about. But one of the topics that really came to mind today was diversity in YA fantasy.
What do I mean by diversity?
For me, diversity is not limited to gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. When I think of diversity, I also think of culture, language, mental health conditions, physical disabilities and unique capabilities, lifestyle, faith/religion, family dynamic, and a grand assortment of other identifiers. There is plenty of diversity found in YA nowadays (especially in contemporaries), but I personally believe that more diversity could be seen in particular genres, namely fantasy.
Fantasy is, without a doubt, my favorite genre. I spend the majority of my time reading a genre that has the power to transport me to a world I’ve never seen before, to a culture I’ve never witnessed before, to a people I’ve never met before. There is so much power in these worlds of fiction and depending on the author, this power is expertly wielded and fairly applied to many forms of cultural, social, and individual representation. But not always.
How much diversity is there in YA fantasy nowadays?
I’d have to say there’s quite a lot. I can’t say there isn’t any diversity in YA fantasy, because that would be an outright lie or denial of truth:
Each of these books has something to offer in terms of LGBTQ+ representation, mental health disorders, ethnic and cultural exploration, various family dynamics, and persons of color. These books weren’t hard to find and there are many more out there like them.
Of course, there are also some YA fantasy books that are clearly lacking in diversity but are still well-loved among the bookish community.
And that’s all right! Not every book needs to have a POC or LGBTQ+ representation. Not every book needs to emphasize family relationships or explore various faiths and cultures to be entertaining or to be deemed “a five-star read.”
But can there be more diversity in YA fantasy?
Of course! While diversity in YA has become more and more prominent, there is still room to grow. I’m insanely happy with the fantasy books I’ve picked up that explore various peoples and cultures, that detail sam-sex relationships and non-binary individual experiences, that introduce characters with mental health issues and physical disabilities, that include a variety of friendships and familial relationships rarely seen before today. I’ve run across more than a few of these types of YA books, and it’s safe to say that diversity in YA fantasy (and YA in general) has greatly improved over the past decade.
And even though not all of them have been the best of reads, I’m happy that at least we’ve taken a step in the right direction to acknowledge these diverse forms of representation. But as I said before, there are still so many more topics and issues that may be addressed to diversify a story’s plot and cast of characters.
Types of Diversity I’d Like to See More of in YA Fantasy
While I’m impressed with how far authors have come to include more diverse characters and situations, there are still a good number of things I would, one day, like to read more about! It’s a bit easier to find these types of characters and diverse representations in contemporary reads, but a bit more difficult to find in fantasy.
- A black hero or heroine who sports cornrows, braided extensions, a weave, or an afro
- More POCs (Latinx, Asian, Black, Middle Eastern, mixed race, etc.) that are main characters, not just side or secondary characters
- More characters (main and secondary) with social anxiety, bipolar disorder, autism, schizophrenia, clinical depression, PTSD, or any other mental health disorder not usually found in epic or high fantasies
- MCs or Chosen Ones with a physical disability (deaf, visually impaired, mute)
- More non-binary characters (i.e. androgynous, transgender, agender, bigender, trigender, pangender, demigender, amalgagender/intersex, gender fluid)
- Parents and siblings (and extended family) that are present and supportive
- Strong platonic female/male friendships
- Queer parents or guardians
There is a lot more I’d like to see, but those are some of the top representations I’d wish to read more of in my favorite YA genre!
Which types of diverse representation are you still looking for in YA Fantasy?
Are there any other genres in YA you believe need a bit more diversity?
Is diversity needed for a YA fantasy book to be a complete success or is it all right if the diversity is a bit lacking once in a while?
Do you have any recommendations for diverse YA fantasy reads?
Which are some of your favorite diverse reads in YA fantasy or in YA in general?
I hope you guys enjoyed this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. It was hard trying to figure out what I wanted to say, but I think I managed to say what was on my mind. There might be a secondary post in supplement to this one later, but for now, this is all I’ve got haha.
Thanks so much for stopping by! ❤