Friday, June 10, 2016

Discussion: Diverse Books and Why White Children Should Read Them

This is another discussion post topic for the Hype or Like Friday meme! Check it out here!

When I first saw the discussion prompt for this week, I didn't know what to write about. I don't really think that much about diverse books because while I do believe that the world needs diverse books, I didn't really think that *I* did. Being my cisgendered, white, and straight self, I can see myself in most of the books that I read. Which is obviously wonderful for me.

So while trying to come up with something to write about, I looked up a lot of stuff about diverse books and saw several posts about why white children should read diverse books. But really, these are lessons that everyone could benefit from, not just children.

Diverse books serve as windows to white children, helping them to understand that diversity exists in our society. Books showing characters of different races, cultures, and ethnicities can give children a more realistic picture of what society actually looks like. Seeing only their own reflections in the books they read can give them an exaggerated sense of importance.

Diverse books can also help white children create more meaningful relationships with their peers. They can learn from these books things that they might have in common with children from diverse backgrounds. Perhaps the same things make them happy or sad. Or maybe they enjoy the same activities or have the same sense of humor. In this way, diverse books can help children create friendships.

Children who are exposed to diversity, who lack ignorance and prejudices, can be more open to exploring new possibilities. Whether it be in their leadership roles, in their jobs, in their relationships, or in their parenting, they will be more prepared for anything life throws at them.

Diverse books can teach children to respect all cultures, prepare them for the real world, and heighten their global awareness. They can eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes about different cultures and generally teach children to be better people.

Sources:

Ten Reasons Parents Should Read Multicultural Books to Kids by Meera Sriram
Diversity in Children's Books: A White Author's Quandry (Part I) by Claudia Mills
3 Reasons White Children Need Diverse Children's Books by Dr. Jozie Scott

Doing research for this post was really eye-opening for me. When I see talk of diverse books on twitter and such, it's mostly commenting on how great it is for others to be able to see themselves in the books they read. So I didn't think they were that important for me because I see myself in basically all the books I read already.

But they can be such valuable tools to teach children early on to be tolerant of others who are different than they are. To respect others and see the world for what it really is, which is incredibly diverse!

I think that I might be more apt to pick up a diverse book after giving this topic so much thought. I think my list of diverse books that I've actually read is pretty pitiful, but I will share with you some of my favorites.

Here are some of my favorite diverse books:

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Legend by Marie Lu
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

What do you think of this topic? Do you think you need diverse books? Is there anything else diverse books can teach children? Do you have any excellent diverse recommendations for me?



4 comments:

  1. So much yes to this. This is one big way we will someday have world peace. Kids who have been exposed to all kinds of cultures in a positive way will not have fear of those groups. That is why I loved my son's school, we have a lot of immigrants in our city from all over the world and seeing them all treat each other as just another student because they are used to being around each other all the time, and it is all just a normal every day thing to them. The gender thing doesn't seem to mean much around here either. I don't know if it is because this is a college town, but whatever the reasons for the local open-mindedness, I'll take it because I have been happy to raise my son here. Diverse books will help in areas where the population isn't as diverse, and as you say will give kida a window on other cultures. They say knowledge is power, but I say it is also peace. My favorite diverse YA is Orleans by Sherri L. Smith. Wonderful post.

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    1. I think that diverse books would help where I'm from. I'm from an itty bitty town in South Dakota and it is basically all white. There are some Mexicans that live around there, but beyond that, not diverse at all. And I think that most of the people there are really intolerant and generally icky. I don't think that where I live now is better, but I think it's slightly more diverse because I live on an Indian Reservation. I will have to check out your diverse suggestion! Thanks so much for checking out my post!

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    2. You live on a reservation? Sometime when you have extra time I would love to email you with some questions!

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    3. I would be totally fine with that! If I can't answer the questions, I'll have the BF help me! :)

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