Read Different Challenge
Diversity in reading has always been important to me and it’s something I have tracked in my own reading for several years. So I’d like to propose a challenge to our readers and hope you all join me in tacking our latest informal challenge.
A few weeks ago while I was at BEA, I attended a panel titled “we need diverse books” that was based on the grassroots campaign of the same name. The panel discussed issues of diversity in publishing and the appalling lack of diversity in what actually gets published (although this has improved over the years). One of publishers on the panel was from Little Bear and she mentioned the “Read Different” program created by Hachette.
Why is reading diversely important? There are so many reasons why diversity in books is important. You can check out some of those reasons in the slide show on the We need diverse books page. For me it’s about expanding my knowledge base, supporting authors who don’t fit the traditional “white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied” mold, and developing a stronger sense of empathy.
I will be taking the challenge to read different this year. I am a white, mixed ethnicity, heterosexual, able-bodied woman. I try my hardest to read a wide array of books by different authors and about different types of characters but the truth is that the majority of books I read are written by white, male, heterosexual authors from either the U.S. or the U.K. Furthermore, I read mostly literary fiction and rarely explore books outside of literary fiction. So I want to make a conscious effort to do more to support diverse authors and books. I hope you join me.
The challenge: To join me in reading different!
What does this mean? It means to make a conscious effort to read outside your normal areas and to expand your reading horizons. The meaning of “read different” will be unique to each person. It could mean reading a genre that you don’t typically read, reading a book about a gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, that is different from your own, or reading a book by an author from an underrepresented group in publishing.
The rules: Think outside the box and incorporate some different sorts of books into your reading this year. Some of you are probably already doing some form of this in your own reading so you can simply join us be increasing your involvement. You set the limit on how involved you want to be in the project. It could be 10% of your books, one book a month, 50% of your books, 100% of your books. You decide. This is an informal challenge with no rigid rules or concrete prizes (the prize is to expand your reading horizon).
Once a month (toward the end of the month), we’ll be asking those of you participating to share your experiences (which books you chose, the reasons for picking them, and what you thought about the experience). If you would like to share your experiences in the challenge, post pictures of your books, or post updates, make sure to tag us so we can see them (twitter, instagram, or Facebook).
So who’s with me? If you would like to join us in this challenge, start off by letting us know what reading different means to you, what goal you’d like to set for yourself, and why you think diversity in books is important.