Diversity in young adult literature, and all literature, is important as a society and for individual readers. As was discussed last week, diverse individuals need to be able to see a mirror in the books they read. In addition to individual readers, our society needs to recognize and read diverse books because it is the reality of our culture. Only reading one area of literature can lead to some pretty extreme confirmation bias which is a deadly enemy of social progress. Diversity in reading can mean different things for different people but I think we can all agree that it is inclusive reading. By reading diverse authors and books with diverse characters we are including everyone in the indelible practice of reading and writing. Of course everyone has their favorite authors and perhaps they wouldn’t be categorized as “diverse,” but anyone can have go-to authors and still practice diverse reading.
Up to this point in this course I have read a fair amount of diverse works. I’ve read a Hispanic verse novel, a Native American novel, and a few European authors. This is a start, but I will have to boost my intake of diverse works in the second half of the semester. Our book bingo guide is a great tool for this and I look forward to the opportunity to read diverse works. There are a few goals I have set after reading the blogs that are centered on diversity. Without question I will be reading a book centered around a character with a disability. Also I have some Walter Dean Meyers coming my way as I will check out some of his books from the library after reading a few of his fantastic blogs on the importance of the “mirror” effect in reading.
All of this talk about reading diverse works is not just a procedure that people need to do. It really should become a reading habit, because the benefits are paramount. It is one of the easiest ways to connect with the “entire” world around you. Someone might ask the question of how does a reader connect? The clear answer is the author. More often than not authors of all different genres will write what they know about, and that knowledge will be reflected in their writing. Regardless if the work is fiction, any author will probably tell you fiction is still based in truth. So, reading diverse works connects you to the world of an author, a world the author probably has lived. This is all about perspective, and authors have the gift of giving a tasty reading perspective of where they think importance lies. The more a reader soaks in this importance in diverse works, the better reader and person they will become. On top of all of this it is important for diverse people to publish diverse books because they in most cases will be able to reflect the diverse culture they have experienced better than someone who hasn’t, but is still writing about it.
In closing, how can teachers implore students to read diversely? The first solution is to put diverse books on the shelf, an easy action. The other way to get students to read diverse books is to have students complete various assignments and passion based projects based on three different diverse works (three is an example). Another way can be to assign diverse books, but this may take away from the students desire to read. Students could be assigned a rotation of free will too. Meaning they would float from genre to genre with an assigned amount of included diversity within those genres. The best way to get students to read diversely is to have a teaching philosophy that promotes diversity and to have fun, diverse reads on the shelves.
I’ll leave you with this video of young adult author John Green who delivers a great summary of all the things we have been discussing when it comes to diverse reading.