On the importance of diverse books

Ever since I have memory, I have loved books. I can’t remember which was the first book I read, or which was my favourite book when I was 6. But I do remember libraries. Like the one in my Primary school. It was colourful and warm and full of books. I remember spending many afternoons in the library of the village where I grew up. I am pretty sure I ended up reading all the books from the children’s section.

I loved to read about different places, other cultures –either fantastic or real ones, but always different, unknown. I was fascinated with anthropology and sociology; ultimately psychology also caught my attention. I wanted to know the limits of the human species and I was eager to learn everything I could about what was out there, waiting for me.

It wasn’t until much later that I started traveling but I was an explorer way before that, and books were my passport. I loved fiction books (magical stories, adventures in faraway places, other worlds…) but reading also developed in me the desire to learn. I got obsessed with the Egyptian civilisation so I just wanted to read about the Rosetta stone (which I got to see in the British Museum last year and almost made my cry) and Tutankhamun and decipher the hieroglyphs. I was also very much into Astronomy and the stories around the stars so I soon gave into Greek mythology.  I was amazed by words and languages.

I know that all those interests that I developed thanks to books have defined the way I am today and I couldn’t be more grateful. I am grateful to the authors who wrote those books and to the translators who made it possible for me to read them in my native language. I have always admired them so much and I that’s probably the reason why I decided to become a translator. I want to help spread the awesomeness of books so that other children can also be amazed by them.

And that is exactly why we need more diverse books – that is a must! We need books set in Africa, Asia, Oceania, etc. We need books with disabled kids too. The bigger the scope, the better our understanding of the world will be. If we only read books that were written in our country, how can we learn about other cultures? How can children discover what’s out there in the world if they just have access to a very narrow selection of books? Not to mention that a better understanding of the cultures promotes tolerance and reduces prejudices.

Reading is the cheapest way to travel, and we are denying this simple pleasure to our children by offering them thousands of titles with similar backgrounds.

Let’s work to promote diversity in books so our children’s ideas can also be more diverse.

2 Comment

  1. Herod says: Reply

    Thanks for sharing your memories. It’s funny you don’t mention your family environment. Most of the good readers I know -including myself- started loving books because their parents (at least one of them) loved reading, too. In my case, my father’s library -which was always at my disposal- still treasures my first reading memories and surely was the starting point to become a book lover.

  2. Luisa says: Reply

    Hi Herod (interesting nickname choice…),

    My family’s environment has certainly helped to shape my passion for books, I remember the day my father brought me the first Harry Potter book (back when no one knew about it) and thinking that it’s “just another book” (although I found that dark cover with the kid flying on a broom really exciting) before I could even imagine that it would turn out to be my favourite saga of all times. Not every child is lucky enough to have a house stacked with books and comics. I don’t always agree with my father’s taste in literature (or music, especially) but he has influenced me enourmously – no doubt about that.

    That’s why it’s so important to instill the passion for reading at early as possible.

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