We have focused on issues of diversity in YA Lit the past couple of weeks. We have learned about the need for diverse characters and diverse authors. We’ve looked into some amazing resources on the web for reviews and news about diverse YA Lit (see Rich in Color, Diversity in YA, and Disability in Kidlit).
Tonight, I am pondering what it means to me to be a diverse reader. My diverse reading life would be one that sees me reading widely, not deeply. This means I will read books written by many authors – authors who look like me and those who do not look like me. I will also read from many different genres – both my favorites and my non-favorites.
The Road to Reading Widely
How will I get there? First, I want to continue to give myself reading challenges. This semester we are working towards a Book Bingo – forcing us to read widely. There are other challenges though, too – Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge has 24 tasks to complete.
There will, of course, be challenges to reading widely. The first is the challenge of access. I can’t afford to buy every diverse book out there. I can’t even afford to buy every book that I read. Living in small town Wyoming can also contribute to the access challenges. While we have an amazing public and school library, we do not always have funds to supply them with the latest books. Finally, I need to be held accountable. Whether it is through blogging, challenges/book clubs with friends and colleagues, or some other method, having someone keeping me reading widely will be necessary.
The Importance of Reading Widely
I’ve laid out the numerous reasons why it is personally important to read widely. But, it is also important for our young people to read widely and diversely.
Diversity in the reading lives of teens is imperative! There are many worlds and viewpoints that students may not have been exposed to before. There will be situations that students will encounter that are different from their own. One way that we can prepare students for encountering these situations is by encouraging to read widely. It will prepare them for real life.
I want to also have a plan for helping my students read widely and diversely. First, I will do my best to have a diverse and wide classroom library. I want to have book talks (by myself or by students) about a diverse array of authors and characters. I will create classroom display that rotates and features different genres, authors, characters, and recommendations.
The final thing I will do is something that I have been thinking about and beginning to do already. I will gather a list of my students’ favorite books. Then, I will do my best to read their favorites. I want to model reading widely. I will share my reading with my students. I will keep a running list of their suggestions and a tally of my reads.
It is my honest hope that I can lead by example and teach my students to read widely.
What does diverse reading mean to you? What books should I include in my wide library? Let’s talk below….