If I could only give one piece of advice to give to writers who want to write more diversely it would be: read #ownvoices stories.
Own Voices are stories written by authors with marginalized identities with characters who share those same identities. The hashtag was started on Twitter in 2015 by author Corinne Duyvis. In an interview with the Corinne said:
I love the movement for more diverse books, but it was frustrating to see people occasionally shove aside the need for more diverse authors. If you only show marginalized experiences as filtered through the eyes of people who aren’t marginalized themselves, you end up with a skewed perspective, no matter how well-intentioned the authors are or how much research they do. One important aspect of not only improving the amount of representation, but also the quality of representation, is simply listening to the people whose experiences are depicted.
Reading "own voices" stories can give you an insight into a culture, language, and interactions you may not be familiar with and can learn from an author with that same identity. It's like being a fly on the wall of a conversation you'd probably not get to hear otherwise.
Sensitivity Readers from the Writing Diversely Directory shared their favorite #ownvoices books and why they love them.
Jessie Maimone's Picks
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal - YA fantasy
"A wonderful story full of monsters, culture, love, and incredible fight scenes. This is a book you won't be able to put down!"
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney - YA fantasy
"A retelling of Alice in Wonderland from a modern and Black perspective. It is imaginative and captures a whirlwind of emotions."
Tina Catania's Pick
Tender by Sofia Samatar - Sci-fi/Fantasy short stories
An "amazing collection of short stories one better than the last."
Georgina Kamsika's Picks
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee - Sci-Fi/Spec Fiction
"Ninefox Gambit is the start of the wonderful Machineries of Empire series of clever, inventive, and diverse sci-fi books. The worldbuilding is unique, depicting a compelling, vibrant, society populated with a hugely entertaining cast of rounded characters."
Anita and Me by Meera Syal - YA Contemporary
"A funny and touching story of Meena, a ten-year-old girl growing up brown in a very white country. The humour is both astute - an oven could be used for something other than storing pans?! - and touching - What do you want to be when you grow up? Blonde. It's a novel about race, heritage, and family."
Alechia Dow's Picks
Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar - YA Contemporary
"A beautiful sapphic love story that explores culture, family, and friendship!"
Renee Harleston's Picks
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan - Adult Contemporary
"A gorgeous lyrical family story that spans wars, generations, and nations. It will make you smile and break your heart."
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland - YA Fantasy
"It's got everything: zombies, history, revenge, and hand to hand combat!"