Read Woke - The Importance of Literary Diversity

Posted On Thursday April 15, 2021

Representation matters. Telling our own story matters. And having your voice heard when it has not always been included in the wider acceptance of what counts as literature is powerful.

Reading brings us closer together. It helps to forge bonds of empathy and understanding for one another, even when we do not share the same experiences as another group of people. Throughout history, the general acceptance of “good literature” has been solely within the bounds of white, male, cisgender, heteronormative, western literature (for a start). When we exclude anyone who doesn’t fit into those categories, we are actually ignoring the majority of experiences worldwide that would add value, richness, knowledge, and understanding not only to our personal lives, but to the pool of what we consider to be good literature.

With the rise of #OwnVoices literature and a call for more diversity in what we are publishing and reading, people who have been excluded from “good literature” now have greater opportunities to tell their stories. When we listen to them, we gain perspective on our own privilege and a greater understanding of experiences different from our own, which in turn helps us to act on what we’ve learned and work toward creating a more equitable society for everyone.

There are so many wonderful voices in the vast categories of diverse literature. Whether you’d like to read fantasy or mythology from a culture you don’t know much about, 2SLGBTQ+ romance, essays on the Black Lives Matter movement, or a memoir on the topic of immigration, you are guaranteed to learn something new and broaden your perspective on the world. For me, one of the books that woke me up was Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, a brilliant exploration on the effects of colonization and western industrialism not only on Indigenous peoples, but on nature and the world at large. Through aspects of Cherokee mythology, King explores the relationship between human and nature, and it’s been a book that has stayed with me for years.

Literary Diversity enriches all of our lives, and we encourage you to diversify your reading with the Read Woke movement!

          - Written by Tasha Longtin, Halton Hills Public Library Associate


To learn more about Read Woke and the Read Woke Challenge, please visit our website page.