What is #ownvoices?

By Gwen Vanderhage, MLIS


As readers and librarians, we are finding that the publishing world is making an effort to seek out more diverse perspectives and voices and to honor stories about characters from groups that have previously been marginalized. These groups include ethnic minorities, different sexual orientations and identities, and those with disabilities. The We Need Diverse Books movement (WNDB) has really sparked conversations and moved the ball forward.

#ownvoices is a hashtag movement, started on Twitter, used to recommend books about diverse characters that have been written by authors from that same diverse group. In 2015, Young Adult author Corinne Duyvis posted on Twitter a suggestion that people use the #ownvoices hashtag to recommend books. Originally, the conversation stemmed from her frustration as a bisexual, disabled person that most emphasis was being placed on diverse books, rather than diverse authors. She wanted to highlight authentic voices. There is a great interview with Duyvis on the “Disability in Kidlit” blog. Much like the WNDB movement, #ownvoices grew out of the children’s and teen publishing world, though it has been used for adult work as well. Read more about Corinne Duyvis' #ownvoices FAQ here.

Now #ownvoices is used across the board in reviews, in editorial content, and in marketing materials to highlight when an author is writing from their personal experiences in a marginalized group.

On her own #ownvoices page, author Duyvis writes that she has intended to include the same groups that WNDB embraces. The WNDB definition of diversity states, “We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.” See more on WNDB's website.

Public libraries are increasingly seeking out and featuring #ownvoices books. Brodart has compiled lists of recommended #ownvoices books for young people, carefully vetted by our librarians.

#ownvoices Juvenile Fiction

#ownvoices Teen Fiction