There’s No Good Reason Not to Represent Characters of Faith

Discussion Post Stars

In May 2016, I asked why we aren’t talking more about the need for religious diversity in books.  Because the focus of our blog is primarily YA and MG (along with some classics) and because the book blogosphere seems to be composed primarily of YA and some MG reviewers, I assumed that readers would understand that my concern was with these categories and that I was not overlooking the existence of such categories as Christian fiction.  Some commentors, however, suggested that my desire to see representation of different faiths is not altogether warranted.   Here, I break down some of the responses and explain why these answers aren’t good enough

Objection 1: We don’t need religious diversity because publishing houses have religious imprints/faiths publish their own books.

Response: I think we need religious representation for two reasons–firstly, so readers can see themselves reflected in art but secondly so that readers can learn, as Atticus Finch says, to walk in one another’s shoes.  This isn’t going to happen through some small press printing their stuff somewhere and marketing it to a niche audience like Catholic homeschoolers, or even through a major publisher’s imprint, the selections of which only certain people are going to read.  I want to see characters of faith in mainstream books so that people can access them easily.

After all, maybe someone somewhere is printing Buddist or Muslim or Jewish fiction–but I’ve never heard of it or seen a section for it at the bookstore.  I’ve only ever heard of Christian fiction.  And I’m not reading Christian fiction because it has a reputation for 1) being of questionable quality depending on the publisher, 2) featuring mostly (historical/Western/Amish) romances, 3) generally having a sermon inserted in the middle.  Romance isn’t my genre.  I prefer to read YA and MG rather than adult.  I just want to see characters of faith going about their lives in the genres and age ranges I enjoy.  Why should I be shunted off to a special section of the bookstore if I want to see a character of faith?  I mean…a Christian character.  Because, again, I’ve never seen Barnes and Noble’s Jewish fiction section, have you?

We wouldn’t tell other people who want to see representation that they can kindly take themselves off to the [specific category of people] section, thank you very much.  Why would we do that to people who want to see characters of faith?

Objection 2: Historical fiction features religion.

Response: It’s true that some genres feature religion more than others, but we should think about why this might be so.  Historical fiction removes the reality of religion–you can, for example, read a book set in Renaissance Italy and enjoy the Catholicism as a quaint historical flavor, much like the dresses and art.  You can read a book set in medieval Europe and dismiss anything unsavory as something those “unenlightened” Catholic people did back in the Dark Ages.  Historical fiction essentially allows readers to say “we know better now” and not engage with it or be made to feel uncomfortable.

Objection 3: Fantasy features religion.

Response: It’s true that fantasy seems to contain more religion than many other genres.  Again, we must ask ourselves why. I suspect this is because fantasy again allows us to think of religion as safe or distant.  Things in fantasy, after all, are not true.  Relegating religion to fantasy can be almost like saying religion is like a unicorn–a nice thought maybe, but you’d be mad to believe in one.

However, I think representing religion in books has a two-fold purpose: to give readers relatable characters and to broaden our understanding of others.  Fantasy religions tend to be made up.  That means no Buddist or Hindu or Jewish reader is likely to read a book with a fantasy religion and think “Hey!  They’re just like me!” or, as Matilda puts it so eloquently, “I am not alone.”  Telling a Christian reader that they can find relatable religion in something like Tamora Pierce is ridiculous.  Would you tell a young reader who loved to dance that there aren’t many dance books, but, hey there’s one about basketball they could have?  Because all sports are the same, right?  Or perhaps a more apt comparison is offering someone who wants to read about a football player Harry Potter instead–flying on brooms is relatable, right?  Quidditch is a sport.

And how can we learn about others and  how to be tolerant and empathetic and understanding when we’re looking at fantasy religions?  When I listen to the political rhetoric being thrown around about banning certain religions from the U.S., when I think about hate crimes, I think we need to learn about each other and maybe that help us create a better society.  Again, Tamora Pierce’s gods aren’t really going to help us fight Islamophobia.

Finally, the idea that we should be content with religion being represented in select genres illustrates that we do have a problem with religion being represented.  Why are we relegating characters of faith to fantasy and historical fiction?

What would you think if someone said “We don’t need more Black characters–they’re in science fiction”?  What would you think if someone said “Oh don’t worry about representing overweight characters–there are a few in some contemporary novels so we don’t need them in romances”?  What would you think if someone said “You’re overreacting about the representation of LGBTQ characters–I saw some in a few contemporaries.  It doesn’t matter if you like adventure or fantasy, you have to go where the representation is.”  If you would not be content with relegating certain groups to certain genres, you should not be content with relegating religious characters to historical fiction and fantasy.

Objection 4: We don’t need religious diversity because readers don’t want to be preached at.

Response: Learning about someone’s religion isn’t the same as being preached at.  No one is asking the characters to give monologues about why readers should convert to their religion.  If the fact that someone has a religion makes readers uncomfortable, perhaps that is a reason for us all to learn more about each other.

Objection 5: Characters shouldn’t go around talking about their faith because people in real life don’t do that.

Response: I’m confused by the assumption that “character of faith” means someone who goes around all day talking about their religion or perhaps trying to convert others.  A character of faith could be literally anyone (because no person of faith fits a pattern) and they could be represented subtly if that’s what the author wants.  Just a mention of a character attending a religious service or saying they will pray could be enough.  Or maybe the author could mention that a character is wearing clothing specific to a religion or that they’re going to celebrate a religious holiday.  It’s that simple if the author wants.

However, I don’t think talking about religion is necessarily taboo in a story.  Talking about religion does not have to be preaching.  I know many people who talk about their religion and it’s usually not preachy.  I’ve found the trick is to indicate that I am comfortable talking about religion, that I am open to hearing what the other person has to say, and that I am trying to approach with understanding and not judgment.  A lot of religious people do seem to have a horror of anyone in the public discovering they are religious and so they’re obviously not going to walk up and announce “Hey!!!  I’m a [whatever]” and give you a run-down of their religious musings that morning.  But I’ve found that if I am the first to say it’s all right, the other person will open up.

And this way you can hear all sorts of interesting philosophical ponderings, thoughts about morality, questions about the afterlife or fate or providence.  Many people seem to hear the word “religion” or “God” and think preaching is imminent, but I cannot stress enough that talking about one’s beliefs is not the same as trying to convert someone or impose the same beliefs on them.  I happen to think chocolate is a great gift to the world–my saying so doesn’t mean I think my auditors all have to love chocolate, too.

Objection 6: Religion might not be the point of the story.

Response: And the point of the story might not be that a character has a disability, comes from a mixed family, or is overweight, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t represent those people in our stories.  In fact, most people would never suggest that a character with a disability should only feature in a story about that disability.  Maybe people with disabilities would like to see similar characters seeing unicorns, travelling to different planets, engaging in espionage, or falling in love.  Maybe all kinds of people can be in all kinds of stories.


The fact that it’s so easy for us to dismiss this topic by saying “Don’t worry about representing religion–it’s in fantasy or over in the Christian fiction section” suggests to me that we truly do have a problem.  Readers seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of seeing characters of faith portrayed, as if somehow learning that a character believes in God or goes to Mass or wears the hijab is going to have an unexplained negative impact on them or ruin the book.  But consider the following books that feature characters of faith:

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok

All of these books have been beloved over the years, even though their characters are religious!  Have you ever heard anyone say “Oh, Anne Shirley is a great character.  I just wish she’d stop preaching”?  Probably not.

As readers, we meet all types of characters from goblins, wolves, and hockey players to murderers , prostitutes, and gang leaders.  We may or may not agree with their philosophies, beliefs, or lifestyle choices.  In the end it doesn’t usually matter.  A good story is a good story.  So why not broaden our representation of characters of faith and, maybe, in the process, learn to stop making assumptions about what it means to have a religion?

Krysta 64


42 thoughts on “There’s No Good Reason Not to Represent Characters of Faith

  1. Briana says:

    Thoughtful post!

    I think you’re right that there is often something distancing about putting religion in historical fiction or fantasy. In historical fiction, we kind of just go “Well, that’s what people thought in the 1500s because they were sort of unenlightened, but it’s ok because we know better now.” And I think you’re right about the approach to it as “historical flavor” in many instances. Not necessarily because the author has any kind of agenda, but because people seem to instinctively think of religion as flat or uniform. Even in someplace like medieval England where “everyone” was Catholic, there happened to be a wide variety of interpretations of what being Catholic meant to people. They weren’t all doing the same things or following some pattern of orthodox Catholicism.

    In fantasy, I think I’ve said before, we have two comforting thoughts. The first is, “This is fine because it’s obviously made up and of course Tamora Pierce isn’t trying to make me worship Mithros.” The second is, “Oh, look, the religion is totally real within the fantasy world. We can see the gods. Thank goodness these characters aren’t crazy for believing in this stuff. They’d be stupid not to!”

    Which is not to say I have a problem with religion in either of these genres, but it’s definitely not the same as trying to accurately represent religion playing a role in someone’s daily life.

    And I frankly am concerned by some of the people trying to shut the conversation down by saying they don’t want to read or hear or know about religion because it makes them uncomfortable–their implications that religion can exist as long as they aren’t reminded of it and can pretend it doesn’t exist. I think we would not accept “Oh, I don’t want to read about [insert group of people] because I don’t relate to it/it makes me uncomfortable” in most other circumstances, so why does it apply to religion? As you say, mentioning religion is not the same as trying to force a specific belief system down someone’s throat.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, or perhaps historical fiction is unique in that it almost forces you to talk about religion? You can’t really have a novel in medieval Europe and NOT mention it–it would be glaringly obvious that something was missing. So I’m not too impressed by authors daring to mention it, you know?

      And this type of inclusion of historical religion or made-up religion does not, I think, help us grapple with the issues we’re facing today like our politicians calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country, or anti-Semitism, or where the lines for freedom of religion are drawn. When I think about ways to create understanding, Percy Jackson’s gods, for example, don’t seem to be particularly helpful in that regard seeing as no one believes that Percy Jackson exists.

      That’s quite true. Usually we look to literature to expand our horizons. I’m not sure why, when it comes to religion, there seems to be a bit of backlash over the mere suggestion that a character might have a religion. I didn’t suggest that the characters were going to write pages of sermons and yet the mere idea that the reader might have a faith at all was apparently an uncomfortable notion.


      • Briana says:

        On a completely different note, I wonder how much representation of religion can run into the area of people thinking it’s not done “correctly.” I guess Christian fiction doesn’t have this problem (but from what little I know of it, the specifics of the religion there are not very relevant, just a general belief in God). But, since people experience the same religion different ways, would people be mad if the character weren’t entirely orthodox, for instance? If say, a Catholic character supported abortion, would readers be upset she wasn’t “really” Catholic, even though many people who identify as Catholic do support legal abortion?


        • Krysta says:

          This is true, but perhaps the best way to address this would be to have an abundance of characters who represent different ways real people might live out their faiths? That way one character wouldn’t have to bear the burden of being the “correct” Catholic.


  2. mez_blume says:

    An excellent & courageous post. Although it’s a discussion piece, you’ve said everything I would like to & better than I could, so thank you! Hopefully pointing out the fallacies in relegating ‘faith’ characters to specialized indy printers will give that boost of courage to represent non-materialist characters.
    As writers, we’ve got to write from what we know. I cannot separate my experience or perspective of life from the fact that I am a Christian. It informs everything, & I would be a disingenuous writer if I tried to dust that under the rug when I write for others.
    As C.S. Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” There is a rich & wonderful world of perspectives, traditions and ideas waiting to be explored in literature through characters of non-materials faith!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      You bring up a good point. I don’t think any author can fully separate their writing from their philosophy and religion is going to play a big part of that. That’s why you have books like The Lord of the Rings or even Divergent that read as very Christian even if the characters are not explicitly Christian or even religious. I think this kind of approach can be valuable as a more subtle way for us to gain an understanding of another person’s faith or philosophy–I can read Tolkien and understand that he understood Catholicism as something very beautiful, something based in love. I can understand that he saw each person as having an individual destiny to fulfill, that he believed God would help those who called on them, that he thought that self-sacrifice was a noble thing. And none of the characters had to make a sermon about it.

      I still think there’s something valuable about seeing contemporary characters talking or living out real faiths, but I also think each author has to do what they think is right for their story. We can share ourselves in many different ways!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mez_blume says:

    P.s. — have you come across Patricia M. St. John’s books? She’s a British writer from the 70s whose books always feature a discussion of faith & are often based on a biblical theme (ie. grace or forgiveness or unconditional love.. you get the picture). Her writing is phenomenal & kids LOVE her stories because they can relate to them on so many levels. She is but one example of an author I wish were in mainstream print, but alas! You have to go rummaging through the amish romance rubbish in your local Christian book store to find her…. but she is on Amazon!


    • Krysta says:

      I’ve never heard of her, but I guess that brings us back to the problem of being published by a specifically Christian or religious publisher. I looked her up and I see her being published by Moody Publishers, which I’ve never heard of.


  4. Carlisa says:

    Yes! I loved your original post on this topic, and I love this one just as much. Religious diversity is just as important as other types of diversity. I think people are afraid of offending others by including religion in their stories, but so many people are openly religious. It needs to be talked about and shown and represented. Thank you for this post!


    • Krysta says:

      This is why I am confused, though. I don’t find it offensive when other people tell me what they believe, just like I don’t find it offensive when they tell me other things they do or like or think. I can’t figure out why merely knowing that someone is religious makes other people so deeply uncomfortable, especially when in the U.S. an overwhelming majority of people identify as religious. (I know this is different in other countries and some I think have a population where the majority identify as atheist.) That means that unless you are hanging out in an usual location (like the academy, for example) most people you know are probably religious–and you have apparently already decided they are not totally insane or you wouldn’t be hanging out with them. But apparently this is okay so long as you NEVER KNOW about it. I don’t get it. I think other people’s philosophies and beliefs are interesting and I like hearing new perspectives. I don’t feel compelled to run out and convert every time someone says the name of their deity.


  5. Lunch-Time Librarian says:

    This is a great post and definitely something good to bring up. Especially in the context of objections that have been brought up. I was thinking of my own novel which also includes a fantasy religion, but in the vein of religion IRL really only makes a brief reference to the MC’s father’s Catholicism.

    But it’s true that we don’t often see existing religions in YA. I’m thinking of The Mortal Instruments in which the fact that Simon is jewish was often referenced. And even myself as an atheist, found it really interesting to learn about the religious practices he brought up. I don’t think people, including myself, often think of religion when they think of diversity. But it’s certainly something I’ll think about more now when I write. And when I read even. I’m one of those that when I do see religion in a book immediately become worried about being preached at, as a symptom of having poor experiences with religion in my own life, and I think putting it more in reading and really showing that most people who are religious aren’t like that would help with that stigma as well.


    • Krysta says:

      I admit I have been preached at in real life and that people I have known have gone to great pains (not very polite, often invasive or aggressive) to attempt to convert me, and that I thus feel a little tense whenever I meet a person of that particular sect. I have also seen books that are, shall we say, heavy-handed with the religion. But I think we shouldn’t let such experiences deter us from learning about each other or from thinking about ways we can represent different types of people in our stories. It is possible to talk about religion without being preachy–and I think more diverse books could show that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lunch-Time Librarian says:

        Well said! I think we’ve all had that moment of being preached to. I mean, everyone has had that experience of someone coming to the door and asking if they want to hear the good word. Which I suspect are the sorts of experiences that sour people to religion. But I agree with you, that it’s possible to talk about it without being preachy. And that we need more of those experiences to help people learn more

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Molly's Book Nook says:

    I don’t mean to insult anyone here, but people actually said those things regarding religion in YA? Some of those arguments were just….questionable.

    I’m not a religious person, but I understand the importance of representing it (just like everyone wants to represent basically everything else that sets people apart). I’ve noticed that almost no YA titles even mention religion as if it’s a taboo subject. I would love to read about a young girl who is Christian. It doesn’t even have to be the focus of her character or the story, even just a mention of it is also important.

    Lovely post!

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook


    • Briana says:

      Yep. This is a reply to some of the comments Krysta got on the first post she did on religious diversity. Most people were pretty supportive. I assume some people who weren’t just didn’t comment. But there were comments that said things like “This problem doesn’t exist. Religious publishers publish books about religion.”

      I also read this post in the past, and a lot of the comments similarly mention that the people are uncomfortable with religion and essentially regard any mention of religion as preachy. The phrase “shoved down your throat” was used a lot. People also said they are much more comfortable with fake religions because “no one actually believes in it.”


  7. Sierra (@bookishpeach) says:

    This was such a wonderful discussion post! I honestly have never thought much of religious diversity within YA. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to being bombarded with mainstream religion (mainly Christianity) in my everyday life. And that can be frustrating as a cultural Hindu, though religiously I’m atheist/agnostic.
    But you are right, that shouldn’t stop an author from being able to include religion/spirituality in a character’s background. I took many religion courses in college and over my lifetime visited many different places of worship. It would be interesting to see some of those topics come up in YA fiction.


    • Krysta says:

      Yes, the irony is that at least in the U.S. Christianity is so prevalent that I think in many cases it’s easy to overlook and yet religion of all types tend to be missing from YA and MG–though, of course, when religion is feature, it tends to be Christianity. I would love to learn more about other religions, however, not just Christianity, and I think our literature could expose us to more of them!


  8. Trisarey says:

    Powerful argument. Eloquently expressed.

    I did notice the lack of religious diversity/representation in YA and MG…and more. And I hope that changes. Stories like Rebel of the Sands, The Lie Tree, and Ink and Bone are all the better for their authors incorporating the religious beliefs of their characters in their stories. Elements like that helped me relate better to their characters, understand why they made certain decisions, took certain actions, had certain world views, etc. Stories like this encouraged more to look up more information about the faiths mentioned or hinted at in these and books, broadening my awareness and understanding of them.

    Religion explains why the circumstances of the death of Faith’s father is so important to her and her family’s future, and why his life ended to begin with (The Lie Tree). Why the djinn even factor into Amani’s life or her story at all, without which (religion) the notion of them wouldn’t exist (Rebel of the Sands). Why Jess makes the decisions he does like writing so much in his “journal” which leads to some devastating consequences (Ink and Bone).

    Religion is present in these stories and characters. And it didn’t feel preachy. Nor did it take away from my reading experience. However, it did help me to empathize with these and other characters–and, by extension, real people–better. But then I’ve always been curious about other cultures, histories, philosophies, backgrounds, and generally what makes people who they are. Which is why I often search for diverse reads (diverse on multiple dimensions) and why they stay with me longer.


    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I think religion can add another dimension to a character and help readers understand their motivations or worries, and their philosophies. We read about a lot of characters with beliefs or philosophies we might not agree with, but that’s okay! I don’t need to agree with a character all the time to understand or empathize with them!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Greg says:

    I agree, we hear about the need for diversity but when it comes to religion that somehow doesn’t count. Religion is seen as too divisive or intolerant to some, but if we’re going to be truly tolerant don’t we need that perspective also? Not all religion is like that. And it doesn’t have to be banging people over the head w/ it, as you mention- just a mention that character is praying or something like that I appreciate seeing, it tells me something about that character without making it a huge issue.

    I think people reading YA or MG might want to see faith represented just like we want to see LGBTQ or overweight people or mental illness or whatever represented. Sure not everyone will like it but not everyone is going to like everything- some people may not like some of the other stuff we’re told we “have” to see more of but them’s the breaks- as the world gets more diverse it’s going to be out there. I think religion can be a part of it as well. Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I think it’s unfortunate that religions is considered too controversial or intolerant to include in literature, but that seems like precisely a reason why we should depict it more. Shockingly, it might become apparent that people of faith are normal people! It just seems odd that we’re more comfortable watching crime dramas with gruesome and violent deaths depicted, or killers depicted empathetically, than we are with reading something like “and then she prayed.”


  10. Bailey @ Fictional Fox says:

    I love this so much! I agree with you 100%. Question number five was interesting to me. Even if I don’t talk about my faith every day, it still influences my daily choices, and it is a huge part of my real life. Most religious people, I think, would agree with me. Why shouldn’t we see that aspect in characters when that is true for so many people?


    • Krysta says:

      Yes, the last information I found from the Pew Research Group (2013 I think) indicated 80% of Americans identify with some sort of religion. So why not reflect that in our stories?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lara @ Another Teen Reader says:

    I scrolled down, all ready to make a comment, and suddenly realised that you’ve pretty much already said everything I want to say. Especially when it comes to religious books being in different “sections” – I’ve always found that a bit stupid, really, since people aren’t necessarily going to seek out a book that helps them experience a certain religion if they haven’t seen it in the mainstream, even if they experience that religion day-to-day or a a part of it. I mean, as a disabled person, I never really used to look for books containing disabled characters because, having never seen one, I kind of assumed they didn’t exist. (Thank goodness for being proved wrong when I started blogging!) And while I have nothing against books with able-bodied characters, I think my reading experience, especially as a younger child, would have been enhanced if I could have read books I related to more.

    I really, really loved this post, Krysta. Are there any books you can recommend that have a good portrayal / interpretation of different faiths?


    • Krysta says:

      Yes, things like Christian fiction tend to be marketed towards just Christians. Christian fiction is also more of a genre than it is a section of stories with people who happen to be Christians. I know people who read it and they seem to be mostly historical, Western, or Amish romances. If you don’t like romances, well…

      I suppose the distinction could help if you were looking for a specific type of book. I’m wondering how one would, for example, go in a bookstore and find a book with characters who have disabilities before the advent of the Internet. But it still seems to set these books apart, which makes it feel as if these books are not for everyone.

      I actually can’t think of many modern YA or MG that feature religious characters. I like Chaim Potok’s work (Jewish characters), but he isn’t contemporary. Marissa Moss has a MG time travel series where the protoganist is Jewish–Mira’s daughter. I like Ms. Marvel. Randa Abdel-Fattah wrote Does My Head Look Big in This? about an Australian Muslim teen who decides to wear the hijab. I haven’t read it, though, so I can’t tell you much more than that. Maybe other readers have suggestions?


  12. Erin (@Readingwithwrin) says:

    I loved this post. Not only have I always wanted more religious representation to happen, the lack of it made me question my religion a lot when I was younger because it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the books I was reading. Which lead me to amish fiction which was mostly romance and I’m not a big fan of romance so then I just stopped reading for a few years because I just couldn’t find any books that filled the gap that I was needing. Thankfully I’ve returned back to reading and realized that that gap might not be filled for quite some time, and instead to just look for books that briefly mention it and look into other cultures and religions as well through books published in those countries.
    I do think it will be awhile before religion is more accepted in books, but I hope it happens in my lifetime.



    • Krysta says:

      I hadn’t considered that not having representation could make readers question their faith, but I think you’re right. The lack of representation makes it seem as if no one is religious, which could make a reader feel like an outcast or at least like they are alone. And it can be difficult to stay true to beliefs when you’re not getting any support–why make the hard choice and do the right think or act sacrificially if no one else is and they seem to think that’s fine?

      There are some books that I think do read as religious, like LotR, Divergent, and some of N. D. Wilson’s works, but it’s not quite the same as seeing a character live out their faith.


  13. gotmybook2 says:

    I am religious and I don’t hide it, but neither do I try to push it on people who aren’t interested. Sometimes I feel like the only religious people in the (non-fantasy) books & tv shows I encounter are crazy ones who totally brainwash or oppress their children and turn them into psychopaths.

    My Most Recent Discussion: Make New Friends, but Keep the Old: ReReading


    • Krysta says:

      Too true. Or sometimes in YA you have the crazy girl who is waiting for marriage. The author makes sure to let you know that said character must have something deeply wrong with them.


  14. Melanie Noell Bernard says:

    Oh! Now this is a discussion I haven’t seen. I think it’s important to have religious diversity in YA/MG literature as well, but from the stand point of beliefs and morals. So many people act and react based on their teachings. And the reasons behind why a character acts the way they do is key to writing a good story because no one does something for no reason (usually.)

    For example, certain religions refuse to eat certain foods because of the teachings of their faith. This would be VITAL to certain characters depending on their circumstances: such as a food shortage. Others may have rituals that are vital to their daily lives and is something they do everyday: this may have a great effect on plot depending on if an event crosses at the same time as the religious ritual. It’s vital because religion can be a huge plot element that authors are not utilizing to their fullest.

    Now, at the same time, I want to say that the likely one of the biggest reasons we don’t see faith in YA/MG literature has a lot to do with the background of the authors. Many authors (not all), but many at the moment in those particular groupings are Caucasians who likely practice some form of Catholicism or are non-religious. It’s for that reason that we don’t see religions.

    It’s the same with having diverse characters: the best people to write about another religion/race/sexuality is a person of that religion/race/sexuality because they’re the ones who understand it best. For a Catholic to write about a Muslim character… Well, let’s just say I can see the headlines spewing backlash already. Studying a religion and actually practicing and believing in it, are two different subjects. I hate to say it, but (at the moment) I think it’s better to have a lack of representation of the religions than an overabundance of misrespresentation because that won’t do the world any good.


    • Krysta says:

      Yes, that happens to me often, as well. I like to think that if we represented more people in literature, we’d all be a little more understanding.


  15. Anna @ bookcritter says:

    Thank for this post and being open about this discussion. This is not an easy topic to discus. There needs to be more diversity of all types. How else are we going to understand people with different views from ours.

    I would like to recommend a MG book series called The Ancestors by Jeff Stone
    It about these young Buddhist warrior monks who escape when their temple after it been destroyed. Now they has to find out about their past and retrieve some secret scrolls.
    There are seven book in the series each following a different character.


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