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My New Rating Scale for Diversity in Books

The importance of diversity in books has been talked about many times and it is often seen as something “extra” in a book, while it should (according to me and many others) be considered as normal. When a book is not diverse, it should be the exception, instead of the rule. Therefore I have thought of something to rate every book I read, to see how diverse I actually read.

I will rate all the books I read on 5 different criteria, and each book can gain a maximum of 1 point per criteria. Half points can be given if the book for example only partly takes place in a non-western setting or a character is not openly LGTB+.

The 5 criteria are:

  • There is at least one POC (person of colour) / non-Caucasian (meaning: not white) character. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • Everything, Everything (has a black MC) would be given 1 point, as would Winter (The Lunar Chronicles; has a black MC) and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (has an Asian MC).
    • City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments) would not be given a point.
  • There is at least one LGTBQIAP (lesbian/gay/trans/bi/queer/intersex/ace/pan) character. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (has a gay character) would be given 1 point, as would Radio Silence (has an ace character).
    • A Court of Thorns and Roses would not be given a point.
  • There is at least one character with a disability/disorder/disease, this can be either mental or physical. Examples of mental disabilities/disorders are OCD, anxiety, amnesia, PTSD, examples of physical disabilities/diseases are paralysis, missing limbs, skin diseases, cancer. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • The Fault in Our Stars (MC has cancer) would be given 1 point, as would The One Memory of Flora Banks (MC has amnesia).
    • Shadow and Bone (the Grisha Trilogy) would not be given a point.
  • There is at least one character from an ethnic, cultural or religious minority. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • Examples are hard to find, but Everything is Illuminated would be given 1 point.
    • Since You’ve Been Gone would not be given a point.
  • The story takes place in a non-western setting. Only main characters and important side characters count.
    • The Wrath & The Dawn would be given 1 point,
    • Fantasy settings that are based on western societies such as inย The Hunger Games would not be given any points.

I will do a complete example of the book that is probably the most widely read: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which would get 0 points (sadly). Another example is Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles), this would be given 3 points (POC: Cinder & her family are Asian, disability: cyborg arm (I would consider this a disability because it is considered a disability in the books), non-western setting: Eastern Commonwealth which is based on China).

I have made myself an Excel file of all the books I have read and will update this throughout the year so I can see how diverse the books are that I read and to keep actively busy with diversity in books, because only now that I am filling it in I realize how little diversity there is in many of the books I read.

I will from now on add a diversity rating to every review and will add the info as described above to the review policy tab in my header with so I can refer to it and people know what I am talking about.

Do you think this is a good system? Have I made any mistakes inย the way I assigned the points? How do you keep track of how diverse the books you read are? Do you keep track?

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36 thoughts on “My New Rating Scale for Diversity in Books

  1. I really like this idea! I think it’s a great way to take note of the diversity we are reading in books nowadays. I think older YA books won’t have as much diversity as we are seeing in more books today. I think it’s nice to keep track of the books that have some great diverse elements to it. I’m excited to see how this works out for you! I think I may end up using this as a personal rating system to help me diversify my reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah that’s probably right, the rise of diversity (sounds like a cool article/blog post title haha) started not that long ago and I don’t think any of the books that I read a few years ago were diverse in any way.. I hope it works out for you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is actually a really cool idea! I just have a question. You put The Mortal Instruments as not getting a point in the POC category, so would that mean that Magnus wouldn’t count?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dammit I forgot about Magnus… I don’t remember how big of a role he had in the first book. The movie, the tv series and the book all seem to melt together in my brain and I can’t remember what happened in the series and what in the books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then I guess I would not give City of Bones a point, but maybe half? idk It’s been a while since I read it so maybe it’s not that accurate

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this system. Diversity is a huge topic that needs to be confronted, but you’ve broken it down into categories that really make it clear to see exactly how diverse the books we read are. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I’m reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i love this idea! my book rating system includes diversity as one of the stars you must qualify for to get a 5/5 star rating on my account, but i like this idea too. i do it my way because i think a book not having diversity in it and therefore getting a lower score might help encourage authors and writers to include diversity in order to get a higher score, but i think your way works just as well. i love that book reviewers and the community are starting to recognize diversity as incredibly important, so i this is wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re idea is also good, I had thought about that too but then you don’t differentiate between different levels or something like that. Some books are more diverse than others. It’s still a great idea, because it shows the importance of diversity and it makes you realize this, which is amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I noticed when I made the scale, that when a book is not diverse, you don’t actually notice it, only when you think about it. So I hope this will help me ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this idea! I like that you’re also keeping a spreadsheet so you can look at it at the end of the year to determine how diverse everything was. It would be interesting to see those end results! Would you mind if I did something similar? I would ABSOLUTELY credit you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope it will be interesting, I’ll probably post something about it at the end of the year.
      Of course that’s okay! I’m curious what you’ll do with it ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  6. This is an interesting rating system Lia. I would not keep track of such things because as an African American, i have read many books and series with African Americans as main and supporting characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Lia,
    I think this is a great system. I’m going to try applying this to the mainstream fiction I read. I’ve got a question though, and I’d love to know your thoughts. Does it matter to you if the diversity in question is a plot point? For example. . .
    I’m self-publishing my first novel in a couple months. It’s an LGBT New Adult coming-of-age story, so most of my characters are gay. However, the book is almost completely devoid of homophobia, struggles coming out, or any of the sexuality-related adversity typical of the genre. This is by intention; I wanted to write a story where the characters’ struggles with their sexuality were in the past so they could focus on their interpersonal relationships and other things like grief and a wider self-identity.
    So I guess I’m wondering. . . is it enough for you as a reader to glimpse inside the culture of a minority group, or are you looking for the struggles that group faces as well? Thanks for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! That is a very important question and I’ve thought about it for a while (also before you asked) but I think it’s all up to you, if you want it to be a plot point for it to be diverse then yes. I think however that for me the simple presence of diversity in any way is good, of course struggles of these diverse characters are important but I don’t that you must include that to have a book be considered diverse. Also if you would make that distinction, where would you put the line, when is something enough of a plot point to be considered diverse? I will be continuing like I am right now, simply looking at the presence of these diverse characteristics but if you think differently and and want to apply this scale yourself, do it your way! Thanks for commenting and for asking!

      Liked by 1 person

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