No matter what age or level you’re teaching, you must incorporate diverse types of books into your required reading for your class. Classical literature is great; there’s much we can learn from it and it should by no means be discounted or ignored. However, as educators, we must also incorporate diverse literature; it’s the best for students and our world. Here are some of the top reasons why you should be incorporating diverse the literature you have students read in your class.

It prepares them for the real world

Students who read a wide variety of literature are more prepared for the world at large. While reading any kind of fiction has been shown to increase empathy and other abilities, reading diverse types of literature give students an insight into the diversity of the world at large. For many students, reading about an event or experience in a book is the first encounter they’ll have with it. Once they get outside of the classroom, they’ll be more likely to encounter different events and may be better prepared for these after reading about them.

It presents other experiences and cultures

All people have different lives and it’s important for young people to recognize this fact and realize their life is likely completely different from the person next to them. By reading books that feature different perspectives and cultures, students can have a greater understanding of the world at large and the variety of people in it. It’s known that the more someone is exposed to a person different from them, the more accepting they become of that person. Literature is a great way to cultivate this open-mindedness.

More students can relate to it

In her TedTalk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses how revolutionary it was for her to read books that featured people like her. No matter what background your students may come from, they’ll find it hard to relate to people who lived decades or centuries ago and led lives completely removed from their own. Including more recent and varied literature helps students relate to authors who may have had experiences like their own or come from a similar cultural background.

It’s often easier to understand

Literature written in the 18th, 19th, or 20th centuries is going to be drastically different from something written in the last few decades. Incorporate some more recent literature into your reading lists in order to make it easier for your students to comprehend. Reading difficult literature can be enriching and a positive experience, but it gets a bit stale if those are the only options for students to read.

You’re supporting new writers

Even if the author of a work is no longer alive, you’re still supporting lesser known writers. Whether it’s financial support or simply spreading around knowledge of an author’s name, having students read lesser known writers helps support these authors and get their work more exposure.