Reading diversely, to me, means reading books I may not initially be drawn to that pull me out of my comfort zone. For many, reading diversely, is difficult because they don’t know what to read, therefore, once they find either an author or a specific type of book, they stick to that because it’s just easier than trying to search out literature that is different. For me personally, I relish a trip to the bookstore. I look for recommendations on the shelves and look for books that have achieved some award or status. This is how I used to search for books at least. Now, I still look at book lists, but it’s not just bestseller lists, it’s a ton of different lists supporting a ton of different books written by a variety of authors about a variety of topics. I’ve found many books on this current reading journey that I have recommended to students and passed on. To me, that is the ultimate purpose as a teacher, to pass the information on and get others interested in good literature. The book bingo challenge has encouraged me to search for diverse authors, diverse topics, and look at diverse genres. Recently, I read Crank, by Ellen Hopkins. That book was mesmerizing! I’ve recommended it to a number of students who I think will enjoy the language and style of the book, while being exposed to difficult topics and themes.
Reading goals can be so personal, but for me, my goal is to read widely. While I love reading diversely, my ultimate goal is to teach more diverse books, as well. All schools are challenged to teach “multicultural units.” I’d like it to be more of a norm than an exception in my classroom. Currently, I teach Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper to my freshman. We live in a small, rural area in Central Nebraska. Diversity in our community is pretty limited, but I’d like to open our student’s eyes to society outside of our small town. My hope is that it will ease their transition as take the next steps in their journey in life to larger cities, universities, etc.
In addition to adding diverse materials for exploration in the classroom, I hope to have a more diverse selection of books in my classroom library. According to Ellen Oh in her blog, A Diversity Reading List from Ellen Oh, “All people need to be exposed to other races and other cultures in a positive way.” I wholeheartedly agree! I was impressed also by her the fact that she couldn’t find what she was looking for, so she wrote. What a great role-model for people from other races and cultures. My hope is that as more people write great, diverse literature it can serve as a source to help promote tolerance and acceptance.