AcademicsJun 18, 2022
— updated Nov 13, 2023
Passion Project — Diversity in Publishing
Rebecca ’22 and broadening representation in literature
Rebecca ’22 has always been a big reader. Early on, she noticed that many books she read, typically young adult, or “YA” novels, featured similar plots and characters. She also noticed a lack of diversity.
“The point of YA is to show teenagers that what they are experiencing is normal and to give them a place to escape,” Rebecca explains. “I grew up in a predominantly white area, and if I had books with more diversity, it would have given me a place to see myself.”
Rebecca decided to research the publishing industry and its lack of diversity for her Hallmark Humanities Seminar project. The full-year course allows students to dive deep into project-based research about a chosen topic. With an interest in entering publishing after college, Rebecca jumped into the project.
“I have learned a lot about how the publishing industry has affected and continues to affect what books are released to the public,” she explains. “About 85 percent of publishers identify as white, and publishers decide how authors are marketed, typically white authors to the general population and authors of color to a specific demographic. I also found that a lot of books with people of color focus on the negative aspects of identity — police brutality or racism — and not as much on celebrating the identity or sharing normal, everyday things.”
“I grew up in a predominantly white area, and if I had books with more diversity, it would have given me a place to see myself.”
The seminar culminates with students sharing their expertise with the MHS community in a public presentation.
“The end goal (of my project) is helping people learn and expand their list of books and authors they read,” Rebecca says, adding that tackling such a sizeable project — developing a thesis, taking effective notes, and organizing multiple sources, then making sense of them six months later — has her prepared for college and the publishing field. “It also made me more determined to get into the industry and make some type of change.”