As is usual with all new year tasks, I’m a bit behind on reading resolutions for 2015. Crazy as it seems, it’s almost halfway through January! I’ve been thinking about this due to some great reading resolution posts from around the internet. Book Riot has some especially great posts about how trying to read as many books as possible isn’t always the greatest and some suggestions for “reading harder.” Pop Sugar also has an interesting list of ideas to spur your reading habits.
Of course there are also the excellent and fun reading challenges that we do here on the Hub like the Morris/Nonfiction challenge and the Hub challenge. There’s still time to get in on the Morris/Nonfiction challenge and then get ready for the Hub challenge after the Youth Media Awards are announced! Full disclosure: I didn’t quite finish the Hub challenge last year but may give it another go this year!
In addition to these reading challenges and resolutions, I loved following all of the updates and news about the We Need Diverse Books campaign and thought that I was doing well reading diversely. But then I took a look at all of the books that I read last year and so many of the authors were white, straight, and featured characters who were the same, and a lot like me. In the library where I work, most of the teens that I see all day are minority students. And most of them are boys. My reading – about a lot of white girls in science fiction or fantasy settings – may not be necessarily speaking to their experiences. It’s actually pretty embarrassing; I should be doing better! I try my best to be an advocate for LGBTQ students and our populations of color. I buy a lot of diverse books for my library’s teen collection. I guess I just don’t read as many as I should.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read the final Raven Boys book coming out this year because oh my goodness the Raven Boys! I’m definitely going to be reading that. But I’m also going to make an effort to read books that feature characters of all different races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and characters with disabilities and issues that I necessarily haven’t faced in my life. I thought that I was making an effort to do this all along but I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I will do better this year.
I firmly believe that you should be able to read what you want, but I also acknowledge that our world is diverse and beautiful and I need more of those stories in my life. I have experienced plenty of stories where the characters are like me; now is the time for me to broaden my mind even more. I’m not going to treat this year as a checklist of diversity that I need to hit but rather a reminder to myself that my experiences of reading are better when I’m learning new and challenging things.
I’m also going to try and read books that would help me recommend books better to teens and this means reading more genres that I don’t generally like, like romance or mystery. Nothing strikes more fear into my heart then when a teen asks for more books like Sarah Dessen’s. I can recommend other titles based on articles from here on the Hub but not because I’ve actually read them.
I’m going to change that. These are just a few of the books I’m planning to read this year to increase diversity in my reading:
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Endangered by Lamar Giles (out April 2015)
Girls like Us by Gail Giles
How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (This title, a 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, is less about diversity in the greater world of YA books and more about the fact that I have to force myself to read contemporary romance books….)
What about you? Will you be trying to read more diversely or participating in the Hub Challenge? Or do you have any other reading resolutions you’d like to share?
-Anna Tschetter, currently reading Prophecy by Ellen Oh