Changing Your Mind, One Book at a Time

Months ago, I came across an article talking about a study of Harry Potter, and how those that read it tended to have increased levels of acceptance towards people with different backgrounds from their own, as well as a lower inclination for notions of violence.

While books are pretty magical on their own, I’m not saying that people who have read Harry Potter are instantly better human beings than those who have not. While the study is conducted by reputable people, it is also inconclusive because there are about a billion variables at play that could skew results.

But if reading can change a young person’s perspective for the better, wouldn’t reading diverse books be a good way to do it?

At the moment, the issue of ISIS is huge and complicated. While I’m not clear on all the details, I am aware of how society is responding.

Their response is valid of course – the problem is real. But innocent Muslims are getting the short end of the stick when society (not everybody, obviously) starts lumping them all together in a group and then pointing fingers while saying awful things that shall not be repeated here on this blog.

The kind of hate I’ve seen reported of the offenders in the Australian media at the moment makes me mad. Stories of people ripping off Muslim women’s hijabs and getting spat on in public is despicable and it really makes me wonder why they think it’s okay to behave in such a way. I even saw a story the other week about how a school kid asked a classmate if their family were terrorists.

On the grand list of a billion things that are not alright, this is definitely one of them. A kid saying that when they’re young cannot be justified by touting the line: “He’s just a child”. An adult doing these things is even worse because you would assume that they know better.

So how do books come into play?

Education. Information. And just a better understanding of other people instead of alienating them.

People need to step outside their bubble and realise that we’re all human beings. Yes, there are extremists who do the wrong thing, but there’s no need to generalise. For people like me (22-year-old Australian Chinese Girl with a penchant for nachos), I admit to not knowing too much about Muslim culture beyond what the media feed me and through some friends. However, I feel that if more people took the effort to learn about others, they wouldn’t be so quick to judge and that maybe they’ll have a think before spouting off some racist BS.

Especially for children and young adults, this is important. Learning things whether it be from the influence of your friends, family, context, culture or books; they have an effect on you. I know younger people aren’t sponges and that they’re selective and capable of rejecting ideas but also remember that they can also accept them and it’s probably pretty important to foster ideas that are not going to cause awful and negative things like racism.

So after a lot of talking, here’s a short roundup of links that can recommend you some YA books that feature Muslim characters:

Till next time,

Not Another Mary Sue

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What book had a lasting effect on you for the better when you were younger?

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