Multiculturalism in Literature

It is important to have books with diverse characters, settings, etc. because there should be a book for every person out there. Everyone should be able to find something they can relate to and have a character that mirrors them so they feel represented and “normal.” This week I read Ms. Marvel No Normal, Last Stop on Market Street as well as articles by Berlatsky, Gangi and Warsinske. Each of these readings gave me greater insight into the importance of diversity in literature. It is typical to read what we know so it is important to have books that relate to everyone. Each year I like to join one of the book challenges that ask you to read outside of your box which are a lot of fun and gives you the opportunity to try new books from across the genres. I felt like this week’s readings and assignments made me want to delve into more books with multiculturalism and I added quite a few to my TBR wishlist. I would like my professional library, when I get to that point, to reflect a diverse population of books to mirror the diverse population of people that are out there.

Ms. Marvel was a wonderful comic book, I want to get the rest of the series in and see how Kamala/Ms. Marvel’s story continues. It was so cool to Kamala grow into her own superhero and to grow into her beliefs. So many teenagers feel out of place and different add to that her Muslim religion and “weird” foods for lunch it is basically wearing a target in high school these days. The creators of this novel balanced the school, family, superhero life so realistically. Kamala was struggling with her beliefs and finding where she fit into those beliefs that she thought being someone else would help. As so often happens the grass was not greener on the other side and she quickly found her rhythm in a superhero version of herself rather than the superheroes she read about. I think that is an important message in itself, that you are enough and the exploration of who you are is normal.

Last Stop on Market Street was adorable and really covered a large spectrum of diversity in the illustrations and the story. This is a great picture book for elementary students and older about the people you come across on a daily basis and not drawing conclusions based on their appearance. This was just beautifully illustrated and written, it is a very quick read but the message is lasting.

Gangi makes so many good points throughout “The Unbearable Whiteness of Literacy Instruction: Realizing the Implications of the Proficient Reader Research.” Mirror books or books in which the reader can see themselves are so important to have in a collection because while it is a mirror book to one group it is a window to others. It is important not only to see ourselves in the books we read but to see other cultures and backgrounds so we may better understand them as well. I also agree that it is important to find diverse books that are well received by diverse groups rather than by a group that has no skin in the game for lack of better description. We can say there are diverse characters but if it is not well received by the group in which is depicted than it really is not a fair assessment. Warsinske’s article touched on keeping diverse books just to be diverse and I would say that would not be the ultimate goal. It is important to have books within your collection that are well received all around but if you have a book that is not being checked out and promotions are not helping that factor, I think it would be beneficial to look up popular books with diversity and add them to the collection while weeding the ones that are not resonating with your patrons. Berlatsky really touches on how awesome Ms. Marvel is because she is so normal while noting that it is rare to have a female superhero of color headlining a comic book. His article was so spot on because there are so few characters of color or different ethnic backgrounds that are featured as lead superheroes and yet Kamala/Ms.Marvel is so similar to all the other stories.

 

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