Diversity in reading is an important issue, one in which more people need to be aware, myself included. As I have previously stated in blogs and tweets, I had not really thought a lot about diversity when it came to reading. Now that it has come to my attention, I actually feel bad that it wasn’t an issue I was keeping in the forefront of my mind.
I think when you talk about diversity, you have to look at all the issues that surround it. If you want to truly get a diversified look at cultures, you need to take into consideration not only the topics that are in books, but also the authors and genre. As stated in the Ellen Oh’s blog “Hello Ello Blog“, “Diversity is important because racism still exists in the world. And racism comes from ignorance.” If we want to help to put a stop to racism, we need to surround our students will material from diverse authors and books dealing with diverse topics. I really liked another quote that I read from her blog in which she stated, “Literature is one of the best ways to reach out to all children, to teach someone to care about and love a character regardless of their skin color or hair type or religious beliefs”. What a powerful tool Literature is in regards to that! I believe this just goes to show how important it is to us, as teachers, to make sure that we are aware of the need to diversify our libraries and to recommend that our students read as much diverse literature as we can possibly get them to!
I have now given myself a goal to try to read much more diversely. Not only for myself, but for my students as well. I want this to come not only in the form of the subject matter but also in the authors I choose. I want to be able to have as much knowledge about books, genre, and authors from other cultures in order to help lead my students to become more diversely read readers too. If I’m not knowledgeable enough to help lead my students to wonderful diverse authors and books, I’m doing a huge disservice to them! One thing that I’ve started to do now is to blog about the books that I have been reading on my teacher’s blog for my students. The first thing that the students have to be aware of is the multitude of books that are out there. I have noticed with my students, if you share and discuss books, they are more apt to become interested in reading them. Therefore I’ve been blogging about the books I’m reading, and adding book trailers when they are found (as we all know, videos really grab their attention). Another thing that I”m in the process of doing is to have more diverse literature in my classroom library. With this, I will be able to make more personal recommendations for the students.
I realize that for some, it will be an uphill battle to get them to read diversely, whether that is caused by personal preferences or by their own (or others) prejudices. In that case, we are going to have to become cheerleaders that make diverse reading appealing to them. If you can find at least one book that they can connect to, the possibilities will be endless. I believe especially in the world today, anything that we can do to help bring down the amount of hate, we need to do it. Books are a wonderful tool to use in bringing about such a change.