Have you heard about the Reading Without Walls Challenge? National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author Gene Luen Yang wants you to expand your reading horizons, and get out of your comfort zone. Here is Gene to tell you more:
Reading outside your own experience gives you a better understanding of other people and the world, making you more empathetic and compassionate. Need some ideas of books to try? Some of our Sno-Isle Teen Ambassadors have books that expanded their horizons:
Anna – Camano Island
The best book that I read which opened my eyes a little more was called The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It’s an autobiography, telling her story growing up with mentally ill parents without many funds. I started reading it because my step-mom told me that the girl underwent some struggles similar to my own when I was little, but as I read, I realized that Jeannette and her siblings were in such a worse situation. They were all but homeless, and her father spent all of their money on gambling or drinks. I realized that not everyone who is homeless is so because they don’t have a choice, and that you shouldn’t judge a person by what’s happened to them. Jeannette Walls went to college in New York City and became a successful author. She didn’t let her challenges get in the way of doing what she wanted in life, and that inspired me.
Dani – Lynnwood
When I was around 11 or 12, I read a book called Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It’s about a brilliant girl named Melody with cerebral palsy who is often just defined by the label of being “mentally challenged” despite her being incredibly smart. This book made my younger self realize how the social bias I had and made me rethink the way I had shallowly looked at students who were different.
Vaishu – Mill Creek
The best book that was “out of my walls” would be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. We’ve all heard the stories of a black man or a white man during the racial segregation times, but have we ever heard the story of a young girl. This novel not only gave an insight to the culture of the world, but also how to cope with them. The sacrifices and the ‘coming of age’ the protagonist experiences led me to open my perspectives and also face the world.
Jonathan – Lynnwood
In 1984, the people were under constant surveillance. Much like 1984, our modern society has a lot more cameras ranging from security cameras to street cameras to our phone cameras. Reading this book has made me realize that even though we live in a “free” world, our actions can be easily monitored and traced through the internet.
Helen – Edmonds
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of my favorite books that is “outside of my walls.” This coming of age novel, set in the South antebellum society, opened my eyes to the harsh reality of slavery and racism back then. Furthermore, an important theme (especially in the ending) of the novel reminds us that change for the better is difficult – particularly regarding racism – which is unfortunately relevant to our world today.
Daniela – Camano Island
Prior to reading Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang, I had very little knowledge of Chinese culture and history but I was fascinated by the story of China’s Cultural Revolution and the policies meant to inspire patriotism that gradually created turmoil and unrest as well as political brainwashing. This book was one of, if not the first, books to show me the many shades of gray in the political world. Despite the seemingly good intentions of the Cultural Revolution to advance China, many deeply negative consequences emerge for the cause of the greater good.
Caroline – Mukilteo
My favorite book I’ve read that was “outside my walls” is Half the Sky by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof. This nonfiction text opened my eyes to the injustices targeting women around the world, and I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a powerful call to action. The authors present the stories of these oppressed women in such a compelling way that I couldn’t put it down.
What is your favorite book outside your walls? Or, what book are you reading to meet this challenge?