Thursday 5 November 2015

We need diverse books

Recently, I read a blog post by Michelle Worthington talking about the need for diverse books. You can read the post here. Prior to this, I had seen a lot of posts talking about the need for diverse books. Most of those seemed to relate to race and sexual orientation. As they are not issues at the forefront of my mind, I hadn't paid too much attention - then I read Michelle's post.

Michelle says that "the modern child requires the connection of the story events to what has happened in their daily lives".

This is what connected with me.

Two years ago, my 11 year old was diagnosed with glandular fever, that has since developed into chronic fatigue. I've been hunting for books that has a child with CFS, and haven't been able to find any. In my search, I have connected with other families who have also been looking for books.

My 13 year old loves his Rubik's cube and is active in the cubing community. I have been looking for books for him with characters who also love cubing, but haven't been able to find any. I have discovered there is a huge community of teenage cubers around the World who would be interested in books that have characters who cube.
This is where Christian authors come in. From discussions I've seen in Facebook groups, readers are looking for a variety of stories that are told from a Christian perspective. My favourite Christian novels show normal people going about their daily lives and relying on their faith to help them through the difficult times. I know my 13 year old would like to hear some stories about teenagers dealing with issues such as bullying and growing up as a teenager of faith in Australia.
It can be challenging to find publishers for diverse books as they can be for a niche market, however there are some publishers who are willing to take to take a risk on diverse books.

Chances are, if you are looking for stories on a particular topic or that features a particular hobby or issue, there will be others out there looking too. So, keep writing those diverse stories and sharing life from a Christian perspective, whether you write for the Christian market or not.

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne and writes in between working as a bookkeeper and being the mother of two active boys. She is a blogger and author of flash fiction and children's books.She is currently crowdfunding her second book, Cubing for CFS.

Follow her writing journey at and


  1. Great post. Thanks Melissa. It's a pertinent point that we like to read about people like ourselves (as well as to read about people that are very different) and this is probably especially important for children. All the best with your next book Cubing for CFS.

  2. The eternal struggle to write books and stories that encompass difference yet are still 'mainstream' enough for the marketers. Very poignant post Melissa. Well said.

  3. Great post Melissa. It's so true that we tend to see diversity in terms of the big issues, like ethnicity, but forget that there are lots of different types of people who would appreciate books that feature issues of interest or concern to them. If these books can also tap into universal concerns (e.g. belonging, self-esteem), then there's no reason why they wouldn't be of interest to mainstream audiences too. For example, the children's book 'Marty's Nut-Free Party' by Katrina Roe focuses on a character with a peanut allergy, but it's a really fun book that would also entertain other kids. Christian suspense author Brandilyn Collins also tackled Lyme Disease in her novel 'Over the Edge'.

    Looking forward to seeing your books tackling CFS and cubing. I've never been able to solve a Rubik's Cube. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks Melissa. Great post. A good point there about the need for books about what modern day kids are struggling with. The world has changed a great deal in the last 10 - 20 years and the challenges are greater in many respects for children. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks Melissa - you have made a very good point.You are right in that we connect with the things that happen in our daily lives - and both cubing and CFS are things many of us have experienced. It's those 'little' things that make a difference to our day and how we live. To have support through a story of another person's experience can help us feel less isolated.
    I have been writing about an issue in my life (hearing loss) as it has made an impact on so many areas of my day to day living. I know many others also struggle with it, and I hope that this writing gives support to others.
    It would be great to see more children's books addressing or including such topical things as you have mentioned.
    Food for thought!