The Power of Diversity
Recent months have seen an increase in bullying and racism in schools. Children, of course, reflect what they see in the world around them. We can mourn what’s happening, and we can fight it in a variety of ways, through civic action, leading by example, discussing issues with our own children and students, instituting anti-bullying policies at local schools, and so forth.
Writers, teachers, and librarians also have a special tool in books.
Books of all types, from contemporary realistic stories to science fiction and fantasy, can present diverse characters and inspire kind and generous behavior. Historical fiction also has a place in showing kids the wonderful diversity of our world, and in encouraging them to practice everyday heroism.
My novel The Well of Sacrifice brings the world of the pre-Columbian Maya to life, challenging the idea that only white Europeans developed advanced civilizations. Young Eveningstar makes friends with a foreigner, learns to question authority gone bad, and stands up for her beliefs against great threats. In addition, the book touches on environmental issues that remain relevant today.
The Genie’s Gift, inspired by the mythology of The Arabian Nights, introduces the culture of the Ottoman Empire. The heroine, Anise, wants to change her future but suffers from extreme shyness. While young readers may not face her specific challenges – ghouls, monsters, and a solo journey across a vast desert – they may see themselves in her social anxiety and desire to break away from the path the patriarchy has set for her.
My upcoming historical mystery, The Eyes of Pharaoh, shows kids today the differences – and similarities – of young people 5000 years ago. I hope readers will not only learn about a remarkable culture, but also be touched by the friendships shown, and understand that the same humanity exists in all of us. My current my work in progress, The Guardians of Truth, is also set in ancient Egypt. In this young adult adventure with paranormal elements, fierce brown and black girls in ancient Egypt fight against injustice. (Read a sample here.)
Many people have been feeling anxious and depressed in a time where our society seems to be breaking apart. Teachers, librarians, parents, and writers can make a difference in the future by supporting and inspiring young people today. That isn’t always easy, but presenting great books and reading and discussing them together can be a step in the right direction.
Chris Eboch is the author of over 40 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Chris Eboch’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.