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Spotlighting the Disability Representation Within the 2016 Diverse Reads Book Challenge!

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The new year sparks new challenges we make plans to start and conquer, and one of the challenges that I aim to complete is a book challenge.  As an avid reader, I have noticed that I do not make as much time for reading as I should, and I want to change that in 2016.  The hardest decision for any bibliophile to make is selecting the right book that will expand your worldview, and pique your literary hunger at the same time.

One thing that I am adamant about is diversity and representation within literature, something that I have covered on the blog since its establishment.  There has been an incredible push within the last few years in demanding that diversity be present and supported within all facets of literature, from spotlighting stories with diverse characters, supporting authors of diverse backgrounds who write stories about marginalized groups and lifestyles that are grossly underrepresented, and pushing for the publishing industry to make these diverse voices and stories widely available to readers young and old.  Sadly, the books with diverse storylines and/or by diverse authors are not widely known, and I was lucky to find a book challenge that aims to right that literary wrong.  

The 2016 Diverse Reads Book Challenge by Read.Sleep.Repeat  

Read.Sleep.Repeat has created the 2016 Diverse Reads Book Challenge that I found via the BlogHer newsletter I received last week.  What makes this book list so great is that there is a different book theme every season, with an amazing list of books to chose from within each theme.  

Here are the four themes from the book challenge list:  

  • January – March:  Ethnic diversity.
  • April – June:  LGBTQIA+ diversity.
  • July – September:  Religious diversity.
  • October – December:  Mental and physical health and disabilities.    

Of course, the last reading list theme caught my eye, and I was pleased with how many books were listed.  I am not familiar with many of the books within this particular theme, so I figured that these books may be ones that my readers and fellow advocates could add to their “to read” lists.  

What Are the Disability-Themed Books on the Book Challenge?:  

Listed below are the disability-themed books on the Read.Sleep.Repeat’s book challenge:  

Mental Health

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven
MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES by Jasmine Warga
EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone
MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia
WHEN REASON BREAKS by Cindy L. Rodriguez*
FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella
CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman
DON’T TOUCH by Rachel M. Wilson*
THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness*
THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B by Teresa Toten
PAPERWEIGHT by Meg Haston
IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini
WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Alderson
OCD LOVE STORY by Corey Ann Haydu

 

Disabilities

SAY WHAT YOU WILL by Cammie McGovern
WONDER by R.J.Palacio
RUN by Kody Keplinger*
THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider
SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore
I’LL MEET YOU THERE by Heather Demetrios
WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME by Josh Sundquist*
ONE by Sarah Crossan
ON THE EDGE OF GONE by Corinne Duyvis*
THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS by Sarah Ockler
A TIME TO DANCE by Padma Venkatraman*

(* = Books that qualify as #OwnVoices.  Read.Sleep.Repeat highlights these books as stories about marginalized groups written by a member of that marginalized group.)

How I Plan to Tackle the 2016 Diverse Reads Book Challenge

Personally, I plan to mix it up a bit by selecting a book within the current book “season” list, and a book within the disabilities list.  I want to read at least two books a month, so I figured I would use this strategy to pick the books that have captured my interest to achieve this goal.  

For January – mid-February, I plan to read the following:

“The Summer of Chasing Mermaids” by Sarah Ockler (this has been a book I have had my eye on since it was released last year).
“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini (this book has been in my Nook app for awhile).
“Big Small World” by Rachel DeWoskin (another book that I have to read and review this quarter.  It is not on the reading list, but it is one that may be worthy of being added one day).  

Final Thoughts

Reading is something that I am very passionate about, especially allowing all of us the opportunity to read stories and tales about worlds and experiences that are outside of our own.  Book challenges like this one forces us to get out of our comfort zones, and learn about each other and understand that each plight is valid and worthy.  

What is on your reading list for 2016?  Are there any books within the seasonal themes that you have read and liked?  Are there books you feel should be added to the list?  Share your thoughts with me, and let’s make this year the one when literature diversity and representation matters!  

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of StockSnap.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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