For a long time I have been tossing up whether or not to write about the importance of reading diverse stories. I’m taking the leap because this is something that I am very passionate about and I think needs discussing. I will contain my focus for this post specifically on books and stories.
Without getting political, there has been an increase in awareness around the importance of engaging with stories written by diverse authors. The black out movement on social media during the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests in the USA earlier this year caused users to question the diversity of their feeds. The goal was for users, particularly white users, to suspend posting their own content for a week and amplify black voices instead. This was done to varying degrees of success depending on the commitment of the user. For myself, I spent time sharing the experiences and information from black content creators in my stories. I took the time to think about my own experiences and privilege. During this time I felt discomfort, shame, anger, and shock – I had to constantly remind myself that this learning was not about me and what I was feeling, but rather about unlearning and relearning. I came out the other side of this week with a better understanding and more empathy.
The following week I came across a challenge put forth by a fellow white bookstagram content creator on Instagram. She was challenging users to shelve their privilege, meaning users were challenged to look at their shelves and identify the number of books on their shelves written by black or indigenous persons of colour (BIPOC). I took the challenge and realised that I had a small number of books by BIPOC authors. Since participating in this challenge I have purchased my books with more intent. I have purposefully sought out authors from diverse backgrounds. I have increased the number of books I’ve read that have BIPOC authors, authors with disability, or authors from the LQGTQIA+ community. I’m happy to report that all books I’ve read since making this decision have been highly enjoyable and I’ve learned a few things along the way. It is one of the small steps that I am making to continue to unlearn and relearn.
And so, diversity matters. It matters because without actively pursuing and engaging with diverse content we will never experience anything beyond our own lives. Diversity matters because the world is so much bigger than ourselves. Diversity matters because sharing stories is important. Diversity matters and I challenge you to shelve your privilege and continue to unlearn and relearn. Build your empathy, consider different experiences, learn beyond your world. Diversity matters.
3 Comments Add yours
I am currently pursuing education to become a teacher librarian and this post really resonated with me. I share books daily with my current grade 3 class and I have been striving over the last couple years to increase the diversity and representation of BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ characters and authors. This post has challenged me to actually count how many diverse reads I am sharing with my students and find areas where I can improve. I believe that the more we expose children to stories from and about people with different lived experiences than them, the more likely we are to foster a generation of tolerant, accepting people. Thank you for your valuable insights.
Hi Katie, thank you so much for sharing. I completely agree with your statement about exposure and empathy. I’d love to hear about some of the books you’re recommending in your school!