Why do you read? For companionship? for inspiration? to stimulate your imagination? for growth? We all have different reasons why we read. Some enjoy one specific genre: romance, suspense, fantasy, self-help; others thrive on variety. One might prefer first person narratives while others like to get into the minds of all the characters. Some visualize the characters and setting; others do not. We are quite a kaleidoscope when it comes down to our individual preferences.
Let me ask you this: Do you ever read with diversity in mind? Diversity, for most of us, brings to mind different races but that is just a part of diversity. Diversity can be a different culture, a different lifestyle, a different religion, etc. Reading a novel about New York City is diversity if you live in small-town America, because everyday life can be quite different for a big-city dweller versus one in a small town. Picking up a novel with characters of another race is diversity. Some books are culturally generic. They might have a cast of diverse characters, but the plot does not differ regardless of who the characters may be. Other books are culturally specific and the plot reflects diversity.
It is a challenge to me at times to read a culturally specific book because I don’t see myself in the story; however, I read on outside my comfort zone because I know these books expose me to a larger world and open my mind. I see that people that are different than me have many of the same thoughts and feelings I do but also it fosters understanding for our differences. For this reason, I push on and try new titles. In the past few years, reading The Hate U Give provided many insights into concerns African American mothers have for their teenage sons that I never had for my two boys when they were teens and Every Falling Star opened my heart to the plight of the average citizen in North Korea. Recently, I watched a TED Talk entitled “The Danger of a Single Story.” The speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is less than 20 minutes and I would encourage you to watch it if you are on the fence about diversity in literature.
Give it a try. Find a novel by a foreign author or with a plot that is different than your world. Encourage your children to read about different cultures and races. Acceptance comes with understanding and what a better place we would live in if we viewed our differences with an open mind.