Delving into Diversity

by Jessica Shelleman

Two years ago, a colleague and I decided we wanted to form a book club that would focus on titles and discussions surrounding the ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our world is beautiful and diverse, filled with a variety of people, each with their own story. We wanted to discover those stories through books and talk about them with others. Thus, Delving into Diversity was born.

We often use the term “windows and mirrors” when discussing diversity in children’s literature, but it’s just as important when it comes to adult books as well. The term “windows and mirrors” was first used by educator Emily Styles in 1988. Put simply, a “mirror” book is one in which you can see yourself, whereas a “window” book allows you to see into the lives of those who are different from you. It’s so important for both children and adults to have access to both window and mirror books, to see and appreciate the lives of others, and to see themselves and know that they aren’t alone.

For our diversity book club, we made it our goal to choose diverse topics in a variety of genres. Some of the topics we’ve read about include race, ethnicity, culture, LGBTQIA+, physical disabilities, immigrant stories, ageism, HIV/AIDS, and religion. We read all different types of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, graphic novels, poetry, essays, young adults, and even a children’s book.

For November, we’ll be reading and discussing American Sunrise, a book of poetry by Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation who has won many awards for her writing and was the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States. If you’re interested in discussing this title, sign up online at https://www.adamslibrary.org/event/delving-diversity-15. The group meets virtually via Zoom on the second Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m.

While I haven’t yet revealed my upcoming book club selections, I’ll include below a list of many of the books the group has read and discussed over the past two years. If you’re interested in any of these titles, feel free to check with your local branch library.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

If at Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner

Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Once a Girl, Always a Boy by Jo Ivester

Taking Turns: Stories from AIDS / HIV Care Unit 371 by MK Czerwiec

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Yes, I’m Hot in This by Huda Fahmy

Maus by Art Spiegelman

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

The Stonewall Reader, edited by the New York Public Library

Jessica Shelleman is the Littlestown Library Branch Manager, ACLS

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