Hi friends, teachers, and book lovers! I am Shannon, the face behind Literally Cultured. I can’t remember a time when I did not love reading. My mother is a teacher, and as a child, she also happened to not allow any sort of video gaming in the house, and restricted TV to an hour or less a day. What does this add up to?! A LOT of trips to the library! The library to me was the most magical place on Earth. Shelves and shelves and shelves of never-ending books about anything you could possibly imagine– and it was FREE (well except if you have issues with returning books on time like myself, and happen to accrue some late fines…)! I have memories of lying in the aisles reading a book, finishing it, putting it back, and pulling out another. And when it was time for our visit to end, and I was pulled out of my book and into reality, you better believe I had a stack of books too large to carry that would tide me over until our next visit.
Books have the power to take us to places beyond our wildest imaginations, introduce us to people we may never meet, and immerse us into stories of joy, heartache, and pain through experiences and interactions that we may not have ever understood or considered otherwise. To quote James Baldwin,
“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive or who had ever been alive.”
Now more than ever, it is crucial for us to step into the stories of others. From children to adults, books force us to become active and invested listeners. We aren’t in a position to disagree or agree with an opinion, share our own experiences that we feel might be similar, provide “facts” on why your feelings/opinions aren’t merited, or thinking of a rebuttal…instead we are listening. And when we truly listen, we practice empathy. With these beliefs and ideas in mind, I was very strategic and purposeful in defining what I wanted Literally Cultured to be.
What better way to model inclusiveness than to show our peers, our students, and our own children that we value and celebrate differences through the books that we read, the voices that we choose to listen to.Shannon Griffin