Today, on April 30th, DIA will be celebrated by the American Library Association. DIA is about rejoicing in diversity in children and in the books they are offered to read.
Diversity is such a very broad topic that it’s hard for any of us to get our heads around all of it. When folks throw in the word diverse, they might be talking about race or ethnicity, language or lifestyle, physical and/or mental exceptionalities, and so on.
If we only consider those few topics, we can come up not just with multiple manifestations of diversity in each of those subgroupings, but also an almost limitless variety in the myriad combinations of reading subjects across those groups.
DIA stands for Diversity in Action. If you are not a Spanish speaker dia also translates as “day.” So, DIA, Diversity in Action Day, means a lot. What is key here is the possibility of diverse kids reading diverse books. It’s really a potent combination for enhancing the smaller and smaller world in which we live. Today (and hopefully every day), children from every possible background and personal situation will be reading books that are rich in language and focused upon the universe of lives from whom theirs differ in fundamental ways.
Now consider the diversity of books, the richest and most enduring resource for personal language development and the foundation of a comprehensive education. We’re talking about all of the diverse stories, novels, picture books, nonfiction treatises, poetry, drama, biographies, essays, coffee table books, board books, plastic and cloth books, humor, religion, business, science, engineering, art, technology…it goes on and on.
While homogeneity creates predictability and sameness within any context, it also brings a built-in vulnerability to focused threats. Diversity brings with it a complexity that is not only fascinating to behold, but is invigorating to whoever engages it. In diverse contexts, when weakness is found in one place, it is complemented by compensatory strength in another.
So let us join our hands, of all colors, shapes and sizes, in celebration of the never ending, eye-opening surprises of this dia. Libraries and the books they freely offer can bring each of us a means for learning about and more fully understanding a dizzying complexity of others whom we can encounter each day and in amazingly intertwined, differing ways.
Unique individuals embracing diversity provides the chemistry from which unpredictable and fulfilling lives for us all can be concocted.
Oh, Happy DIA!