We dedicated our Fall 2017 special issue of The Scout Report to the topic of banned and challenged books, in honor of the American Library Association's 35th annual Banned Books Week. Our special issue was a reader favorite on social media and no website was more popular than the fabulous blog We Need Diverse Books. Why did we feature this resource in our Banned Books Week issue? As writer Malinda Lo noted in 2014, books that feature diverse characters and tackle issues such as disability, racism, and sexuality are more likely to be challenged than other fiction titles. We Need Diverse Books offers a wonderful way for readers to learn about new books for teen readers that address these issues.
In 2014, young adult fiction writer Malinda Lo penned an essay called "Book Challenges Suppress Diversity." Drawing on the ALA's annual list of the most frequently challenged books, Lo demonstrated that "over half of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009 addressed issues about race, sexuality and/or disability; or were about non-white, LGBTQ and/or disabled characters." We Need Diverse Books, part of the Banned Books Week Coalition, is a grassroots organization that aims to promote diversity and representation in young adult literature. The group defines diversity as "including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities." The organization's tumblr, which collects articles and reviews from around the web, provides an excellent way for readers, educators, librarians, youth workers, and caretakers to find books that are by diverse authors or feature diverse characters and topics. Recent posts include a profile of author Linda Sue Park for Kirkus Reviews; a story about the the first ever Well-Read Black Girl Festival that originally appeared in Electric Lit; and a story from Indian Country Today about Kinsale Hueston, a Navajo high school student who was recently named one of five National Student Poets.