Let’s make the #OwnVoices louder
You must have come across the hashtag somewhere by now, or even the words themselves. It’s a matter of interest on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram … etc. all the social media platforms. A hashtag that has become a voice on its own, a train of thoughts calling out for more people to hop on board.
#OwnVoices is a movement kicked off on Twitter by Corinne Duyvis – cofounder and editor of Disability in Kidlit (http://disabilityinkidlit.com/), a website that purely aims to illustrate and portray disability in children’s literature whether it’s through book reviews, articles, discussions. When you look at the publishing world, we see a singular line of thought; diversity was a foreign concept lost on the world of literature and reading. And if not lost, it was very rare.
It wasn’t common to find books and stories tackling diverse issues, race, class, society, politics, gender-equality and more social matters in a constructive, rich and democratic manner. It was not easy to come across a read where you feel yourself diving into something new, learning something different and not mundane from what you’re used to be exposed to.
Corinne started the hashtag #ownvoices with all the children’s publishing in mind. Yet, the hashtag took a life on its own and expanded to a wider range. It became a pillar under which was structured an encouragement of diversity and a push towards the fact that we need to tell our different stories as they are.
Authors and publishers have higher powers when it comes to influence, leaving a mark on the world and calling out for a cause. Picking up a book, living through the story and connecting with a character is influential in a way you see years later when you’re in a situation where you find yourself withdrawing strength from that character you love. Authors create that for us, and publishers support it by getting it out to the world for it to reach your end. Diversity is a concept that will take time for the world to accept and practice, sure but it starts with #ownvoices and people who yearns for their voices to be heard.
The hashtag now is a category of published works where you’ll find yourself exposed to diverse range of notion folding around more diverse, authentic and rich representation of world-wide nations. You’re exposed to different culture from across the world, different traditions, social-classes, social-struggles, race, religion, believes and ethnicity. In a #ownvoices published work, the authors tell their story and they take us into their world, into their lives and history. Not necessarily to be a work on non-fiction, sometimes it’s a world of fantasy and magic but the message is yet the same, loud and clear and shouted out to the world.
Here are some of the #ownvoices novels you should give a try:
City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
This book is all a Muslim looks for in a fantasy novel. It’s novel where history is told, mythology is weaved in a way we never saw before and our heroes are as brave as ever, yet we’re exposed to a religious history, manners, traditions and attitudes. It portrays Muslim heroes as they were in history, as we want the world to see them, yet all the characters and the entire plot is the works of the author’s imagination yet the facts, experiences and messages is loud and true. The story comes out right of the author’s heart to show the world the beauty of the religion, history and culture she herself lives.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
“Courage does not always roar. Valor does not always shine.”
Based on west-African mythology – something that we don’t find in fantasy books that much – COBAB is an all-black cast novel, it was heartwarming to see this brought to life, published, widely hyped and loved. The author’s passion about the story seeped out from between the lines, her true heart showed how she really feels about it, how much she cares for it, love it and how loud the message she wants delivered is. The story was brought to life from her watching every day’s news, watching injustice brought upon people of different race and color, the inequalities and the political struggles, she put all her heart into bringing our realities into a story of a rich, magical world and a fantastic plot.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
“You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”
I think that quote is an enough encouragement to dive right into the story. Wonder is a world-wide loved contemporary novel and the movie surprisingly took many in an ocean-wave-like feels. A book about a young boy, born with a facial difference that has prevented him from going to mainstream school. Until 5th grade, starting at Beecher Prep is a challenge and all August wants is to be treated as a normal kid, however his classmates cannot get over his extraordinary difference.
“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”
And there are many, many more, but we thought we start easy on you. But, we’ll be waiting for you suggestions of novels you read that goes under the hashtag and let’s promote diversity.