Have you ever read a book and the characters just won’t leave you, even when the pages of the book are closed? I’ve been fortunate to read a few books like that this summer: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is one.
Reading this book has changed my thinking. I have a new appreciation and understanding for those who have lived the migrant journey. I was taken outside of my own privileged, protected background. I walked with the characters as they experienced unimaginable fear and incomprehensible grief. I began to understand the enormity of the challenges others face daily, some repetitively. I began to consider the journey of my own ancestors, too.
Imagine a child who is never exposed to the stories of others. A child who does not have the opportunity to walk alongside a character in a book. Will that child develop the same compassion for others as the children who are exposed to a myriad of stories and experiences? Will that child be able to think about a situation from the perspective of another, to empathize with situations other than their own? To some extent, probably; to the same extent, I reckon not.
The reminder is this: parents, bring story into your children’s lives, and teachers, into your students’ lives. Diverse stories. Stories of struggle, stories of hope. Stories of those like us, stories of those unlike us. Immerse them in the lives of fictional characters and see what transpires.
And now for me… back to American Dirt. I’m nearing the end…