I read so they can be loved.
This is a thought that resonated with several people in one of my previous posts. The concept expressed in the quote drove me to make a decision that I do not often make in my reading life: stepping out of my comfort zone.
I am a conservative, Protestant Christian. Part of my beliefs is to abstain from certain practices and beliefs that I see as harmful or that go against the laws of God. There are a lot of books that I typically stay away from because I seek to honor my God through the literature that I read.
This can be very tricky sometimes. Especially in the world of Young Adult Literature. It has also built up a pretty focused and sometimes narrow comfort zone in my reading tastes. I have been known to put down books if they contain graphic sex scenes or brutal accounts of violence.
But as we all know, there are some pretty brutal subjects discussed in the world of YA Lit. And some of it is pretty graphic and portrayed head on. I think we all know what I am talking about here. When I am reading a book that contains these, I often skip these sections or even stop reading the book because I do not have the emotional capacity to endure these.
However, one of my biggest philosophies for teaching is to love my students as the human beings they are. After having two international roommates this year with completely different religions and worldviews than me, I have found it necessary to attempt to understand the perspective of others.
Reading is an effective way to understand differing perspectives.
I can love someone better by reading, and I can love someone better by understanding their perspective better. In order to better prepare myself for the classroom, I decided to on occasion read something brutally honest about someone else’s worldview and perspective.
While this is extremely brutal and makes me doubt my intentions a lot, I think this endeavor is worthwhile. That is why, recently, I read Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. It is not because this centrals around a group of homosexual teens that makes this a brutal read. Someone is kicked out of their house for being who they are, a gay boy uses a sex app to try to find happiness, people are hit by thrown bottles, eggs, and harsh insults, and someone tries committing suicide. Not to mention some very intense kissing and other love making scenes.
I found myself overwhelmed by the book.
At the same time, I found the experience beneficial. It taught me to be more compassionate toward my students, no matter what their beliefs or their backgrounds. It taught me some of the thought processes that homosexual students go through, and it showed me some of the experiences that homosexual teens have happen to them.
All of these will help me better understand my students. And if I can help a student better because of reading outside my comfort zone, then it was well worth it.