Disability and Diversity in Young Adult Fiction

A couple of things have caught my eye lately, so I thought I’d share!

Firstly, the Disability in Kidlit blog. This blog embraces a broad definition of disability, and discusses its representation in middle grade and YA literature from a wide variety of perspectives – and ALL the bloggers identify as disabled themselves. So you will read posts from such writers as Kody Keplinger, Stephanie Burgis, Sara Polsky, Corinne Duyvis, and many more.

Disability in Kidlit was initially run as a one-month event in July, but having had a fantastic reaction, it’s now an ongoing project. Yay!

colourful Kaleidoscope plaque next to the twelfth planet press logo

Secondly, on a more general theme of diversity in YA, check out the Kaleidoscope crowdfunding call at Pozible. Kaleidoscope is a proposed anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy.

Kaleidoscope is a project by Twelfth Planet Press, a Perth-based, small press owned by editor Alisa Krasnostein (of feminist SF podcast Galactic Suburbia fame), in conjunction with editor Julia Rios (of the LGBT SF Outer Alliance podcast).

As Alisa and Julia write:

Too often popular culture and media defaults to a very narrow cross section of the world’s populace. We believe that people of all kinds want to see themselves reflected in stories. We also believe that readers actively enjoy reading stories about people who aren’t exactly like them. We want see more stories featuring people who don’t always get the spotlight, so we’re gathering a wonderful variety of:

* YA fantasy stories
* Set in the modern world
* Featuring teen protagonists from diverse backgrounds

The main characters in Kaleidoscope stories will be part of the QUILTBAG, neuro-diverse, disabled, from non-Western cultures, people of color, or in some other way not the typical straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied characters we see all over the place.

That said, these aren’t going to be issue stories. The focus here is contemporary fantasy, and while the characters’ backgrounds will necessarily affect how they engage with the world, we’re not going to have a collection of “Very Special Episode” stories about kids coming to terms with their sexuality/disability/mental illness/cultural identity, etc. We want to see protagonists from all sorts of backgrounds being the heroes of their own journeys.

Kaleidoscope already has stories by Sofia Samatar, Ken Liu, Vylar Kaftan, and Jim Hines. They will open up to general submissions when the pledges reach $7 000, with a final funding target of $12 000. They’re currently at $4 120, so now’s the time to get in on the ground floor and help them reach their goals! There are a variety of pledge options, from $5 (and you get two novellas in ebook format for that) and $15 (receive the two novellas plus the ebook edition of Kaleidoscope), right through to $1500 (a heap of books, an editorial critique from your choice of the two editors, the book dedicated to you, and, if you’re at Worldcon, afternoon tea at the Ritz with the Kaleidoscope editors).

You can read more about the Kaleidoscope project at the official Kaleidoscope Blog. Spread the word!

Categories: arts & entertainment

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1 reply

  1. Done. Looking forward to reading the results.

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