Monday, June 16, 2014
We Need Diverse Books
Did you ever play Authors? This was one of my mom's favorite games when I was a kid, and I remembered it fondly. When I recently ordered a set for my family to try out, however, I had one of those uncomfortable moments when you see a childhood thing and realize how biased it was.
The authors are all white, and there is only one woman author. My kids noticed it at once, and I'm proud of them for that. But darn - I really liked this game when I was a kid, and it actually greatly influenced my reading list.
And that means that I missed out on a lot of good books that would have broadened my horizons. Reading is the closest I can come to understanding a world, a place, a time, or a life that I can't actually live. A good book gives the reader a chance to step into other shoes in a way that nothing else does.
The We Need Diverse Books campaign has made waves recently, and it is bringing much needed attention to the issue. Not only do we need diverse books because everyone should be able to see themselves represented somewhere in the library shelves or the bookstore, but we also all need to explore beyond our own lives and beyond people who look or live just like we do.
As a teacher, it is my job to surround the children I am educating (my own and the children at church) with books that celebrate diversity, promote acceptance and compassion, and open their minds to a larger vision of the possibilities of life. All teachers should be curating the books they surround their students with, and there are helpful guides out there that can point us in the right direction.
(I also have a recommended reading list on my other blog right now, reflecting some of the good books I've found recently.)
Is it a lot of work to re-sort and re-evaluate your collection? Yes. But this is important, incredibly important, work that we all need to do. And, it is also a joyful and fun task! Goodness, there are some amazingly good books out there that are both representative of diversity and just lovely books in their own right. If you love books, then realizing that you've only been getting just a slice of the them by reading your standards means that now you have a whole new world to explore.
But we only have them to explore if they get published, and so seek them out, buy them, and demand that publishers give us diverse books!