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Balance the Books

Balance the Books is a new project by New Writing North Young Writers that invites you to discover brilliant new books by authors from underrepresented backgrounds. Come and read some amazing books with us!

If you’ve ever felt stuck in a rut reading the same kinds of books, or tired of not finding characters you can identify with in fiction, then Balance the Books is for you! 

Did you know that in the UK 90% of the best-selling YA titles from 2006 to 2016 featured white, able-bodied, cis-gender, and heterosexual main characters?  

Yet, we know that representation matters!  

We know that the best books act as both a mirror and a window: reflecting back to us our own experiences and feelings, while also revealing a wider view on the world, so that we can understand and empathise with others.  

What should I expect from the Balance the Books list? 

Balance the Books is all about celebrating diverse literature. You’ll find amazing books by authors from a wide range of underrepresented backgrounds, including but not limited to:  

  • people of colour 
  • disabled people 
  • LGBTQIA+ people 
  • working class people 
  • care experienced people 

There are twenty titles on our list, so we hope everyone will find something they enjoy. We also encourage you to read widely and try out books you might not normally go for. Balance the Books is all about discovery! 

How do I get involved?  

From January 2022 we will be working with our partner schools in North East England, who will each receive their own Balance the Books shelf of 100 books, as well as book groups and reading guides. This is a pilot project and we are hoping to roll it out further in the future, so if your school is not already taking part, you can ask a teacher or librarian to .

Whether your school gets involved or not, we hope you read along and tell us which books you enjoyed by adding notes to our pin board below; using #BalancetheBooks on Instagram, Twitter; and discovering the Balance the Books shelf on Good Reads.

Along the way, we’re sure you’ll find authors you love and want to read everything else they’ve written! Not to mention other books you think are missing from our Balance the Books shelf. We hope you’ll share your recommendations in the school library or online, for other people to discover great books too.

Community Pinboard

Share your thoughts on the #BalanceTheBooks titles on our pinboard!

“I never sat down to write a diverse book. I wrote a book about the world I know. The world I know has ethnic diversity, has working class and middle class people in the same family, has many kinds of family, has many sexualities and gender expressions. The world I know may not be like the world you know but now it sits proudly on a bookshelf for you to pick it up.”

Dean Atta, author of The Black Flamingo

“I’m thrilled that A Kind of Spark has been chosen for Balance the Books. It’s so important that neurodiversity has a place in conversations about representation, and that ND authors are at the forefront. Underrepresented authors are writing the most exciting stories so it is wonderful New Writing North is championing this.”

Elle McNicoll, author of A Kind of Spark

How did you choose the books?

Following a shortlisting process by a panel of young people (including Durham Youth Council), teachers, librarians and expert readers, the final selection of twenty Balance the Books titles was chosen by participants of the Young Writers programme.

Meet our expert readers

New Writing North logo monogram

Jake Hope

New Writing North logo monogram

Christopher Moore

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