Monday, May 11

Read Outside Your Comfort Zone

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.

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