The Importance of Literature Diversity in the American Education System


Keira Welch '25, Writer

Based on the reading lists of schools all over the country, it is blatantly obvious that the books students read and absorb knowledge from are mainly written by white male authors about white male characters. There is a terrible lack of books that are written by and centered around women and minorities being read in schools due to systemic oppression. This is an issue in the American education system because it provides a lack of representation and gives students a narrowed perspective. Schools need to make a better effort into creating diverse English curriculums and filling school libraries with books by a variety of different types of authors. Diversity in reading is so important for the formation of young students to be able to connect to English literature and adopt a more open-minded viewpoint.   

One of the most important reasons for the need for diverse literature in schools is that students should feel represented and that the books they are reading reflect themselves, their hardships, and their own life experiences. It is incredibly hard for students to connect to books and novels in their English class if they are unable to find characters that look like them. Books with representation heighten students of marginalized groups’ self-esteem, social-emotional functioning, and classroom attentiveness. Stories that remind children of themselves allow for better development and growth as students. Most importantly, it makes students feel validated. Even books that include characters from marginalized groups often do a poor job of properly representing them. It is common for female and minority side characters to be used only as help to move along a white male character’s story. Characters of marginalized groups are not represented well because they are written and designed by authors who don’t understand what being part of one of these groups mean, which can lead to poor representation and perpetuation of stereotypes. This brings forward another reason for the need for books written by female authors and authors of color. Literature that is not relevant and doesn’t reflect students’ cultures and experiences can have the negative effect of losing kids’ interest and interrelation with their books, while books with diversity can make a more positive impact in the classroom.   

Another important reason to include diverse books in the education system is to give students a more open-minded perspective as well as windows into other ways of life. Reading predominately white male perspectives can have negative effects on students. Reading books written by the same demographic of people who have all had similar experiences growing up, gives readers a narrowed perspective. The work and voices of female and minority authors need to be heard so students who relate to them can most connect to the literature they are reading in school, and so others can see windows into lives and hardships their peers may face. Books written by these authors can allow white students to better connect to and care about their classmates and the world. Being able to read about racism and other oppressions their peers may face, helps white students become more empathetic allies and be better at helping stop issues such as racism. Having a widened perspective and being empathetic are two of the most important qualities a person can hold and schools should use diverse books to teach students how to wield these traits.    

It is so important for students to be able to read diverse literature in school so minorities and women can be represented in English classrooms and students can experience new and different authors’ perspectives. Representation in English books is significant so people’s own experiences and selves can be reflected in what they are reading in class. Reading books written by varying authors is additionally important in order for students to become less narrow-minded and more empathetic. Some examples of books that would bring more diversity to the education system are The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston, It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, along with many more. There is a need for schools to implant books such as these into their curriculum to create more diversity and better the American education system.