Thursday, April 24, 2014

Social Issues as Literary Citizenship

For many people, books aren’t a top priority.  Not even close.  Reading, really, especially for fun, is a privilege.  I think that’s something that many of us don’t consider.  But books can be an important forum for discussing social issues and talking about difficult topics. 

As a literary citizen, engaging in these social discussions can be an effective way to not only better the literary world but the non-literary world as well.  By talking about social issues, literary citizens can involve people who might not otherwise be interested in literature. 

For example, on the topic of discussing domestic violence, I recently wrote a blog post talking about domestic violence in the literary world and a couple of books that I feel approached the subject very well.  Reading these books can be a good start to facilitating understanding and compassion between readers.

Which is something Brittany Means talks about in this blog post.  So much of literary citizenship focuses on making the world a better place for books and writers, but it should also be about making the world better for readers.  She talks about how books shape us and help us understand the world, and how good books can teach important lessons and encourage respect.

Books can provide opportunities for discussing difficult topics, but so can comics, as Elisabeth Wilkes discusses in this post.  Comics and books can make issues more approachable and help people understand things that may be uncomfortable to talk about.

Books have long been a place for writers to discuss social issues often addressing political changes and satirizing reality, as Eric Long mentions in his blog post on dystopian fiction.  He talks about why we like dystopian fiction so much, and why it makes such a good format for discussion political issues.

Literary citizenship isn’t just about engaging people who already love to read or write and talk about books, but also about expanding the literary world.  Books can change lives, and influence attitudes for good or ill.  

Literary citizenship should also be about making the world better for readers, and making books more appealing and accessible to those who don’t already read.  Teaching literacy is vital to a society, but so is finding books that appeal to young and old people who haven’t had an interest in reading or haven’t had access to books.  
The world of literature shouldn’t be an elitist one, in which literary citizens look down on those who don’t read.  We should be thinking of ways to include them, to engage them, and to get books in as many hands as possible.

If you're interested in getting involved, check out places like these near you:

No comments:

Post a Comment